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2021 Ford Explorer vs Hyundai Palisade

2021 Ford Explorer vs Hyundai Palisade
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2021 Explorer vs Palisade - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Families require a certain level of comfort and space that single vehicle owners do not mirror. Convenience and amenities are important for buyers with children who are on the road often. Whether you are scooting to soccer practice or jetting off to a music competition, your passengers in the back seat deserve just as much comfort and accommodation as other passengers. While some standard SUVs fail to acknowledge this need, others lean into it and create excellent attributes for the enjoyment of backseat passengers. The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade are two SUV models that excel in this area and make passenger comfort a top priority.

The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade do their best to appease buyers with good-looking aesthetics inside and out. The Ford Explorer displays a look that is much like that of its other signature models. Yet, the Hyundai Palisade encompasses an appearance that is distinctive to this model. Both models offer third-row seating, which allows them to accommodate up to eight passengers in certain models. Bold in appearance, strong under the hood, and versatile in the cabin, the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade battle it out for a spot at the top of consumer preferences.

Despite the similar goals of the Ford Explorer and the Hyundai Palisade, these SUVs are different in a few ways that appeal to different types of buyers. Segmenting themselves in their material quality and design accents, buyers enjoy both enough to consider them for purchase. Yet, these SUVs differentiate themselves from each other at a level that means a buyer must choose which one fits their lifestyle the best.

The Powertrain

Straightforward in its approach to power, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade focuses on a sole engine layout. A 3.8-liter V-6 engine is responsible for propelling this model forward with 291 horsepower to boot. It is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted from paddles mounted on the steering wheel for ultimate ease. Easy and quick shifting is a highlight of this SUV, as is its ample towing power. When equipped with a proper trailer hitch, this SUV can tow up to 5,000. This task becomes much easier with the implementation of trailer sway control and hook up is simplified with incorporate pre-wiring for trailers this model entails. The 2021 Hyundai Palisade appeals to buyers for its good looks and power, but its ease of use is also a preferred amenity.

In opposition, the 2021 Ford Explorer relies on a lineup of three engine sizes with an additional hybrid selection. From the very beginning it is apparent to buyers that varying levels of power are an important aspect for the Ford Explorer. Featuring a more athletic personality overall, the 2021 Ford Explorer introduces a 2.3-liter 300-hp four-cylinder turbocharged engine and moves up to 3.0-liter 365-hp V-6 in its sporty ST layout. Another V-6 that produces 400 horsepower is also offered as an upgrade. Perhaps the most modern powertrain option present in the 2021 Ford Explore is its hybrid powertrain that consists of a 3.3-liter V-6 engine and an electric motor combination that can produce up to 318 horsepower.

Sport utility vehicles are not commonly known for their excellent fuel economy. In fact, due to their size and power we often expect these models to be on a lower side of this facet. This is true for the 2021 Hyundai Palisade, which attains 19 city mpg and 26 highway mpg in its most efficient trim with front-wheel drive. In comparison, the most fuel efficient Ford Explorer trim with a gasoline engine can attain 20 city mpg and 37 highway mpg. Of course, the hybrid version of the Explorer beats this average with its 27 city mpg and 29 highway mpg. This is by far better than the 2021 Hyundai Palisade, but the Palisade's failure to offer a hybrid model puts this SUV at a disadvantage.

Warranty agreements are a concept to consider in a new USV purchase, and these two SUVs vary in their provisions. The 2021 Ford Explorer is rather standard with its three-year 30,000-mile limited warranty and five-year 60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Yet, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade steps it up with warranty offerings that surpass those of the Ford Explorer. The Palisade incorporates a five-year 60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year 100,000-mile powertrain warranty across all models. For three years or 36,000 miles, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade also offers complimentary maintenance. In contrast, the 2021 Ford Explorer does not offer complimentary maintenance at any level.


The variances between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade really begin to emerge when you consider their ride comfort and quality along with their personality that drives their attributes. The Ford Explorer is spunky and sporty. Its wide array of engines plays into this persona. It also has a ride that mimics this driving force. Composed with an agreeable attitude, the Ford Explorer is steady and sturdy but not necessarily exciting. Its ST model amplifies its enthusiasm a bit, and its stiff suspension and additional power within this model help.

In contrast, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade prefers to put its classy attitude on display in its ride development. This SUV's single engine is equipped with a transmission cooler that assists in prolonging its ability to haul heavy items. Slightly quicker than most other SUV models, the Hyundai Palisade seeks to be the best in all it does. Accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 6.9 seconds is a great play into that ambition. The 2021 Hyundai Palisade is not as playful and spry as the Ford Explorer, but it offers a refined drive that can only be found in luxury SUV models.

The amount of space for passengers in the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade is comparable. The biggest difference between these two is the number of passengers each one can hold. The 2021 Ford Explorer can hold a maximum of seven passengers in its best layout, while the 2021 Hyundai Palisade can expand to hold eight passengers. Accessing space for storage is a bit more difficult in the Ford Explorer than the Hyundai Palisade. Striving to make this process a bit easier, the 2021 Ford Explorer implemented a button that moves the second-row seats out of the way for access to the third row. The 2021 Hyundai Palisade features a similar button for ease of access to the third row.

If you are in search of ample space for cargo stowage, both the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade are good options. Space for up to 33 carry-on suitcases is available behind the front seats of the Hyundai Palisade, which totals 86 cubic feet of stowage space. Just 46 cubic feet of this space can be used with the second-row and third-row seats in their upright position, which is still quite expansive. Coming in just a bit smaller, the 2021 Ford Explorer offers room for just 31 carry-on suitcases with the second-row and rear seats folded flat. With the seats in an upright position just four carry-on suitcases can be stowed behind the third row of seats.

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.


Safety is an important attribute in SUV models that are used to transport multiple passengers. The 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade each take this responsibility seriously. In fact, both models scored a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for their implementation of standard safety features and modern safety enhancements. While the 2021 Hyundai Palisade earned the designation of a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, the 2021 Ford Explorer narrowly missed out on this accolade because of its disappointing performance in front impact crash testing.

What each SUV includes as standard and available for safety features makes a big impact on a buyer's overall decision on which one to purchase. Each one of these choices adapts a plethora of standard driver assistive safety features that promote the well-being of passengers. From automated emergency braking to forward-collision warning to adaptive cruise control, buyers will see these features integrated as trim levels progress. It is this wide array of standard safety amenities that buyers look forward to in the Ford Explorer and the Hyundai Palisade.

Which Has the Best Value?

How do we determine which vehicle between two competitors offers the best value? Shockingly, the initial cost of the vehicles at hand are not what drive this decision. Although they make an impact on the inherent value of each model, other factors like the cost of ownership and trim level inclusions should also be considered. Going from basic to premium, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade lineup consists of four trims. This selective number of models means many more features are packed into each one as opposed to an SUV with more trim level options. In comparison, the 2021 Ford Explorer lineup consists of six gasoline trim levels and two hybrid models. This ensures buyers have access to a wide array of options, but the features within each are more spread out.

However, when it comes to repairs and maintenance buyers will see a notable difference between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade. Repairs for the Ford Explorer will be more easily attainable with many locations to choose from and a wide array of components, whereas service for the Hyundai Palisade may be a bit more selective and harder to come by. This is not to say it will be impossible to find service or repairs for your 2021 Hyundai Palisade. They just will not be as readily available.

For this reason, the 2021 Ford Explorer is seen as the SUV that boasts the better value. It is comparable in price across most trims and is easier to find repair services and components for.

Which is Better?

The perception of which models is the better one between the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Hyundai Palisade is dependent upon the personality and lifestyle of the potential buyer. Those with a sportier attitude and driving enthusiasm will likely find the 2021 Ford Explorer fits them the best. It has many available options to choose from, along with a few hybrid models to consider. It is affordable and versatile, but it does have some downfalls. With less space for cargo and passengers, this SUV is the smaller of these two options.

If you are looking for a more luxurious and bolder SUV, the 2021 Hyundai Palisade stands out from the 2021 Ford Explorer. It holds more people and has more cargo space than the Explorer. Not to mention, with only one engine offering its powertrain is much more simplified and straightforward. This SUV has four trim levels to choose from making it easy for buyers to compare them all. Overall, we enjoy the look and feel of the 2021 Hyundai Palisade the best between these two models. Yet, in the end, the individual choice is up to each buyer.

Used 2021 Ford Explorer: