September 17, 2021

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2021 Ford Explorer

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What kind of SUV is the 2021 Ford Explorer? What does it compare to?

Built for families, or best for a crowd—with a bevy of gear, the 2021 Ford Explorer is a three-row SUV with room to grow. It competes against a slew of family dream machines including the Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, and Chevy Traverse.

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Is the 2021 Ford Explorer a good SUV?

Review continues below

The Explorer gets a 6.8 TCC Rating. That’s on our honor roll for a new car on sale, but just shy of the TCC dean’s list. Small demerits inside the Explorer keep it from climbing higher. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Following price cuts across the board on the 2021 Ford Explorer, the SUV now comes with a less expensive variant of its ST performance model called Enthusiast ST, a less expensive Platinum trim with rear-wheel drive only, and the hybrid powertrain can be had on top Platinum trim for the first time. 

With the Explorer, Ford offers a bevy of trims and powertrains to satisfy shoppers—base, XLT, Enthusiast ST, Limited, ST, and Platinum. Most Explorers on the lot will have a 2.3-liter turbo-4 under the hood that makes 300 horsepower paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive will be equipped on many Explorers. The Explorer Limited and Platinum offer a hybrid version that uses a 3.3-liter V-6 teamed to an electric motor and hybrid battery pack that makes 318 hp combined, and can return up to 28 mpg combined, according to the EPA.

The Explorer Platinum and Explorer STs use a 3.0-liter turbo V-6 that makes 365 hp or 400 hp, respectively. They’re mated to all-wheel drive only and are quick enough to be an ipecac substitute at roundabouts.  

Heated front seats are standard on the Explorer XLT now, and that’s the version we recommend for most buyers. The XLT also offers a sporty exterior package with big wheels that may appeal to some (at the expense of a stiffer ride) and the sport-adjacent Explorer ST can be fitted with 21-inch wheels covering massive high-performance brake pads.

Three rows of seats are standard with room in the back for children only.

Every Explorer is equipped with automatic emergency braking, which boosts its family resume.

Every Explorer also is equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, which boosts its road-trip resume.

How much does the 2021 Ford Explorer cost?

A base Explorer that was added late last year is the most affordable Explorer at nearly $34,000 for a rear-wheel-drive version. All-wheel drive adds about $2,000, depending on trim level (it’s standard on ST trims) and the most expensive Explorer Platinum can ring up a tab of more than $62,000.

Where is the Ford Explorer made?

The 2021 Ford Explorer is assembled in Chicago.

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