Ford Explorer 2021
- FUEL TYPEPetrol
- MILEAGE27 MPG City / 29 MPG Highway
- ENGINE2956 cc
- CAR TYPESUV
If you're shopping for a new mid-size SUV for 2021, Ford is hoping that its Explorer will make its way to your driveway. It offers three rows of seats and plentiful room for hauling cargo, and it comes equipped with much of the connectivity and safety features that are on most buyers wish lists. The base and XLT models come standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is optional. Optional is a hybrid powertrain, and the top-spec Platinum and sporty ST models come with a twin-turbo V-6. Overall, the Explorer is a decent choice, but rivals such as the Kia Telluride, the Hyundai Palisade, and the Mazda CX-9 offer more polish.
What's New for 2021?
Ford has made a few tweaks to its mid-size crossover for 2021, such as making heated seats standard on the XLT, offering a heated steering wheel as an optional feature on that model, and including an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat on the Limited, ST, and Platinum models. A Sport Appearance package is now available on the XLT trim, and it includes 20-inch aluminum wheels that are coated in Carbonized Gray paint. In addition to the upgraded wheels, the package also brings a mesh grille with Carbonized Gray accents as well as unique lower-body cladding, dual exhaust outlets, Light Slate–colored interior upholstery, faux skid plates, and more. A new cargo organizer is optional on XLT, Limited, and ST models; the Platinum trim receives this feature as standard. A high-end King Ranch trim joins the lineup and features unique mahogany-colored leather upholstery; a sporty Enthusiast ST trim is also new for 2021 and provides the performance of the more expensive ST trim with less features and a lower price. Off-road enthusiasts may find the new Timberline trim interesting; it features a lifted suspension, all-terrain tires, and more rugged exterior styling cues. The hybrid powertrain is now available on the Platinum trim and, speaking of Platinum, buyers can now order a rear-wheel drive version of the Explorer's top trim. Ford also says an all-electric variant of the Explorer is on the way, but we don't expect to see that until at least the 2022 model year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Base - $35,040
- XLT - $38,540
- ST-Line - $46,540
- Limited - $47,290
- Timberline - $48,040
- ST - $49,040
- Limited hybrid - $51,000 (est)
- Platinum - $53,890
- Platinum hybrid - $55,000 (est)
King Ranch - $55,290
We think the mid-level Limited model is the best Explorer for the money. While the hybrid makes sense for people who can take advantage of its lofty EPA-rated city mpg, we found the standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine to be sufficiently potent and more efficient on the highway. It can tow a sizeable 5300 pounds when equipped with the towing package. We'd also add all-wheel drive for $1920. Apart from that, we think the Limited trim's desirable standard features should suffice. These include a 12-speaker B&O audio system, 20-inch wheels, a heated and power-adjustable steering wheel, leather upholstery, a power-folding third row, and upgraded driver assists such as adaptive cruise control.
Features & Options
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA) ★★★★★
The 2021 Explorer received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) but missed out on a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) due to a merely Acceptable score in the small-overlap front crash test. Ford outfits every Explorer with a host of standard driver-assistance technology and offers upgrades such as self-parking assist. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross-traffic alert
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Ford provides wholly average limited and powertrain warranties that align with most competitors' plans. However, the company doesn't provide the complimentary maintenance that Toyota and Chevy do.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance