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2021 Ford Expedition vs Explorer

2021 Ford Expedition vs Explorer
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2021 Expedition vs Explorer - How do they stack up? What are the differences?

The popularity of three-row SUVs continues to rise. One of the segment’s most popular models is the 2021 Ford Explorer. Families enjoy its comfortable interior and fresh exterior styling. However, drivers who need a larger and more capable SUV should strongly consider the 2021 Ford Expedition. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll reveal which one of these Ford SUVs is the better option.

Size and Styling

The 2021 Ford Explorer and Expedition offer car shoppers a distinct size difference, with the latter's impressive length standing out. The shorter stature of the former makes it nimble in tight spaces while its lower ride height is convenient for passengers entering or exiting their seat. Whether you're looking to fit into parking spots or need extra space behind your vehicle - these two products have got you covered!

The Expedition takes a bold approach to SUV styling, boasting an unmistakable boxy silhouette and modern LED headlights. Those in pursuit of style can opt for the XLT trim’s striking Black Accent package, or go all out with the Stealth model's 22-inch wheels plus black-housed lights - sure to turn heads wherever you roam!

Expect the Explorer to look sleeker and more athletic than the Expedition. LED headlights come standard. Quad chrome exhaust outlets, a mesh grille, and blacked-out headlamps give the ST trim an especially sporty appearance.

Designed to handle up to seven people, the 2021 Ford Explorer has no trouble satisfying most families. There’s an especially good amount of legroom in the Explorer’s first two rows. Its third-row seat is more suitable for children and small adults.

With the Ford Expedition, long trips in the family car just got a whole lot more comfortable. Occupants of both rows can stretch out and relax - adults will find plenty of legroom with an additional 8.7 inches available in the third row, while those riding shotgun receive 2.5 extra inches to make life easier on their journey!

To no surprise, the full-size Expedition also has a larger storage area. There’s 20.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the Expedition’s third row. However, folding the SUV’s third-row seat increases cargo space to an impressive 63.6 cubic feet. While the Explorer provides 18.2 of standard cargo space, lowering its third-row seat results in 47.9 cubic feet of cargo space.

In terms of outward visibility, the Explorer gets a mediocre rating. This SUV’s short side-window glass creates additional blind spots. While the Expedition’s windows are larger, drivers will still encounter a few blind spots when backing up. Both of these SUVs provide a good view of the road ahead.


Let’s first take a look at the 2021 Ford Explorer’s available powertrains. Ford’s popular 2.3L EcoBoost engine comes standard. This turbocharged four-cylinder engine kicks out 300 horsepower. Drivers who need more muscle can upgrade to a 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine, which develops up to 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. Both of the Explorer’s available engines use a 10-speed automatic transmission.

When it equipped with its base powertrain, the Explorer clocks a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds. This is definitely quick enough to please most drivers. However, upgrading to the Explorer’s larger engine results in an even swifter 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds.

The Ford Expedition packs a powerful punch with its signature 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine, boasting 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque in the standard model. But for those wanting more power under their hood, the Platinum trim takes things up to another level with 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque thanks to special calibrations – all mated seamlessly to an efficient 10 speed automatic transmission!

The Expedition gives an impressive performance even when weighed down, clocking in a speedy 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds on the closed road test track - remarkable for such a heavy SUV! And no matter how much cargo is loaded inside, it still delivers swift and responsive handling.
For those who demand a powerful companion for their toughest hauls, the Ford Explorer is here to answer your call. This SUV isn't afraid of tackling big tasks - whether it's towing up to 5,600 pounds or making light work out of heavier duty jobs with its 9300 pound capacity; The Explorer has got you covered! Let this rugged vehicle take on any load so that when you're ready for action, all you have left is pure exploration.

The Explorer's smaller engine is ready to take you farther while maximizing fuel efficiency, rated up a whopping 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. If you're looking for extra power during your travels though, there are options available; just be aware it'll bring down those MPG numbers from 18/24 respectively with regular gas as its fuel source.

Expedition owners can anticipate spending more money at the pump. This SUV is rated to deliver about 17 mpg town/23 mpg highway. Luckily, Ford tunes the Expedition to develop peak power on regular unleaded gas.

The Explorer is tough enough to handle weekend camping adventures. An optional AWD system and Ford’s Terrain Management system help ensure good traction on muddy trails. There’s also 8.2 inches of ground clearance underneath the Explorer, which will come in handy when traveling in the snow.

The Expedition is the perfect ride for those craving an off-roading adventure. Its truck based frame and robust 4WD system with low-range gearing provides optimal maneuverability across different terrains, while its FX4 Off Road package equips it with a suspension fit to tackle rough landscapes coupled with skid plates that provide protection during more challenging routes. Better yet, this beast comes ready equipped with an electronic limited slip differential which boosts traction wherever you may go!

Drivers looking for performance and agility on the roads should look no further than the Ford Explorer. Its lighter design and car-based platform make it feel more maneuverable, while its sportier sibling -the ST trim- ramps up responsiveness even higher with a suspension tuned to deliver an exciting ride. Meanwhile, although still capable behind the wheel, those who opt for an Expedition will find its pickup truck heritage is unmistakable in terms of driving experience.

No matter which SUV you choose, a comfortable ride awaits. The Explorer is widely lauded for its outstanding smoothness, though the sports-oriented Explore ST has firmer suspension. Those seeking to maximize comfort should consider the Expedition and equip it with an optional adaptive suspension that enhances stability as well as plushness of the journey!

The Ford Explorer and Expedition are exceptionally quiet SUVs, making them ideal for family travels. With dual-wall dashboards, thick acoustic glass and active noise cancellation technology ensuring outside noises stay out of the cabin – you can expect peaceful journeys in both vehicles!

Comfort, Options, and Performance

Conquer the roads with confidence in an Explorer, a vehicle designed for peak comfort. Upgrade your experience by choosing from luxurious options like massage-function front seats and heated second row seating of highest quality leather upholstery – all while enjoying tri-zone automatic climate control at no extra cost! If that doesn't sound enticing enough, opt for power deploying running boards exclusive to the Expedition model - take on any terrain without sacrificing style or convenience.

These SUVs are a close match in terms of in-vehicle technology. However, a larger 8.0-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration. Ford equips the base Expedition with a much smaller 4.2-inch infotainment screen, which does not provide smartphone connectivity. Buyers must move past to the Expedition's base trim level in order to get Ford’s modern Sync 3 interface.

For tech-savvy drivers, the Expedition and Explorer provide all the bells and whistles with their Wi-Fi hotspots, 12 speaker audio system, wireless charging capabilities for your smartphone device of choice. And if that wasn't enough to tantalize even seasoned road warriors - never fear! The Explorer offers a modern dash setup featuring an interactive digital gauge cluster so you stay informed on every adventure.

Driving off the lot with a brand-new Ford Explorer has never been more affordable. At an MSRP of around $32,675 and no compromise in features compared to its much pricier cousin -the Expedition (which starts at nearly $50k!) - savvy buyers can feel secure they're getting an unbeatable value.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


The 2021 Ford Explorer recorded some of the best crash scores in the midsize segment. It scored a flawless rating in all the NHTSA’s critical impact tests. Families will also appreciate the Explorer bring named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

Crash scores for the 2021 Ford Expedition are just as impressive. It also earned a five-star overall safety rating from the federal government. The IIHS has yet to evaluate the Expedition’s safety.

Every new Explorer comes loaded with confidence-inspiring safety features. Special seatbelts help prevent chest injuries. Several advanced driving aids are found on the new Explorer. Blind-spot warning, forward collision warning with auto emergency braking, lane keeping assist, driver drowsiness monitoring, and pedestrian detection all come standard.

Evasive Steering Assist is on the Explorer’s list of options, which further enhances the driver's ability to dodge fast-approaching obstacles. Drivers who frequent metropolitan areas will also want the Explorer’s automated parking system. Intelligent cruise control and a surround-view camera are available as well.

While the Expedition provides many of the same standard safety features, it goes without pedestrian detection and driver drowsiness monitoring. Evasive steering assist is also unavailable on the Expedition.

Drivers who plan to tow on a regular basis will benefit from the Expedition’s optional Trailer Backup Assist system. This feature makes the task of driving with a trailer much easier.

Which Model to Choose?

Both the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Ford Expedition prove to be great options. However, there are many differences to consider when choosing between these SUVs. For many car shoppers, cost will be a key factor. The Explorer is significantly less expensive. When comparing these vehicles, most people agree that there’s no big difference in overall interior quality. Upper trim levels feel genuinely luxurious.

The Ford Expedition is a spacious beauty that offers plenty of legroom for passengers and storage space for cargo. However, it can also be an inconvenience to navigate in busy urban areas due its size; not only does the parking situation become tricky but stowing away this full-size SUV may require some extra real estate!

Glide the roads with ease at the helm of either a car-based Explorer or truck-based Expedition. Get ready to feel every twist and turn while driving an agile, sports-tuned ST version of the former; its performance steering system will make it your go-to choice for thrill seekers! For those looking for more stability in their ride experience, opt instead for the latter - even though you may miss out on some sharpness behind wheel, its sophisticated suspension still delivers smooth sailing all around.

Make your next family adventure a breeze with the Ford Expedition! With its available low-range 4X4 system and heavy duty skid plates, you'll have all the help needed to tackle muddy camping trails or snowy roads. The reliable performance of this vehicle will ensure adrenaline filled fun in any terrain - no matter how challenging it may be.

Drivers in search of a dependable ride to haul their heavier gear should look no further than the mighty Expedition. Built for power, this SUV has enough raw strength to tow even the most immense loads with ease and comfort - plus it can take on smaller hauls just as easily too! The Explorer offers similar capabilities but is less powerful overall.

Unsurprisingly, the Expedition guzzles down more fuel. While the Expedition’s highway fuel economy isn’t bad, a low city gas mileage rating makes it less suitable for urban dwellers. Drivers who commute on a daily basis will favor the Explorer.

When it comes to the 2021 Ford Explorer and Expedition, there's something for everyone. The former offers practicality with excellence across many categories while the latter provides a truck-like feel boasting an extra spacious interior - ideal if you need to tow heavier loads. It all depends on what type of driver you are!

Used 2021 Ford Expedition: