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For decades, the Ford Explorer has been known for its rugged style and capability. It was one of the first SUVs to become a real success, and its popularity is still strong today. Over the years, Ford has made many changes to its iconic SUV. The 2021 Ford Explorer is athletic, modern, and filled with high-tech amenities. A bonus is that it has three rows of seats. Since there are a few different engine options, people can customize things to their liking.
What's New for 2021?
With this model year, there have been some trim-specific adjustments rather than a full-blown redesign. This makes sense because 2020 was a year in which Ford made significant enhancements to the Ford Explorer.
On the XLT, heated seats are now standard, and on the Platinum, the cargo area comes with an organizer. Many trims have been upgraded with power-adjustable seats in the front passenger position. With the XLT trim, there's a new package called the Sport Appearance package. It includes nicer wheels, carbonized gray exterior accents, and a light slate interior color.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Ford Explorer – The Pros
1. Hit the Trails
The Explorer comes standard with a Terrain Management System to help drivers optimize performance in different types of situation. On top of this, Hill Descent Control works to manage speed when going down steep hills.
What's even better is that a four-wheel-drive system is available on this vehicle. With this system in place, there is a choice of seven drive models. All it takes to switch from one mode to the other is a twist of a dial. Modes include Trail, Deep Snow/Sand, and Tow/Haul. It goes without saying that having power sent to all four wheels instead of just two can lead to a big improvement in traction.
2. Strong And Stronger
Two traditional powertrains are available on the Ford Explorer. The first engine is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost. It's fairly impressive for its size, as it can generate 300 horsepower. Hitting this mark is quite a feat, and it can attract a lot of attention.
The other option is a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6. It's a twin-turbocharged model, and it takes horsepower up to 365 or 400, depending on what trim is selected. This is truly amazing. There's no doubt that the V6 will make the Explorer a lot of fun to drive. In addition, it takes towing capacity up from 5,300 to 5,600 pounds.
3. A Hybrid Is Available
There is a third choice for how the Explorer can be powered. This Ford can run on a hybrid powertrain that uses a 3.3-liter V6 and an electric motor. The hybrid Explorer does better than a standard one, as it can generate 318 horsepower. It can't tow as much as the others, but it still has a respectable towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
The hybrid version of the Explorer takes combined fuel economy to around 30 miles per gallon. This is an improvement over the fuel economy of about 24 miles per gallon in the standard Explorers. (As one would expect, fuel economy in the SUVs with V6 engines is even lower.)
4. Rear-Wheel Drive
To enhance the sporty nature of the Explorer, Ford has put in rear-wheel drive if four-wheel drive isn't selected. Using rear-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive was a strategic choice. It can maximize performance and capability. It has made the Explorer stronger in terms of towing capacity as well. If any potential customer cares more about what an SUV can do than how it looks, this is going to be a major selling point.
5. Advanced Safety Components
Not only is the Explorer athletic, but it's also safe. There are many driver-assist systems that are standard on this model. They actively watch out for potential problems and are always ready to send out alerts or take action. One of those systems is post-collision braking. If an accident occurs, sometimes a secondary collision can happen shorty after. Post-collision braking reduces the chances of a secondary collision by applying pressure to the brakes once an initial impact is felt.
There are several more features that can be included with this SUV. For instance, reverse brake assist can prevent certain types of accidents, adaptive cruise control can be used to automatically adjust the vehicle's speed as necessary, and blind spot monitoring could make it easier to stay aware of other vehicles' positions.
6. High-End Seating Amenities
In some trims of this Ford, the seats can feel very luxurious. A tri-diamond perforated leather upholstery is available. Front seats can be heated and ventilated, second-row seats can be heated, and the third row can have a power-folding function. It really is amazing how comfortable and convenient things can be. What the Explorer has that can't be found in many other vehicles is a massage function. That's right - the front seats have something called "Active Motion" so they can soothe tired muscles and reduce fatigue.
7. Base Model Seems Advanced
When someone hears the term "base model," it's hard to get excited. The Ford Explorer breaks the norm by offering many high-end components as part of its entry-level SUV. For starters, the base model has a power liftgate and LED taillights. It has a three-zone climate system, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, and SiriusXM.
8. Take Guesswork Out of Parking
Active Park Assist 2.0 is an available feature. It takes over the steering so drivers don't have to worry about how to maneuver into a tight parking space. All that people have to do is to hold the Active Assist Button to set themselves up for success. The vehicle can use its sensors to figure out how to steer into the right parking position, and the driver just has to bring the vehicle to a stop when appropriate.
9. Plenty of Interior Space
There's room for seven total people in this vehicle. This is perfect for big families and drivers who often have to transport multiple passengers. People can choose whether they want to hang out up front with the driver, stay nice and comfortable in the middle row, or have a cozy space to themselves in the back. If the extra seat isn't needed, the Explorer can be configured with captain's chairs in the middle row. This opens up some more room and can make it easier to move around.
10. Sporty ST Available
If anyone wants something unique, the ST would be a good choice. It has special badging and exterior features that are sleek and bold. Enhancing its appearance are LED fog lamps and LED taillights with a blackout feature. Inside its cabin, there is more ST-specific elements, such as micro-perforated leather seats with silver stitching for contrast.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Ford Explorer – The Cons
1. No Wow Factor With the Infotainment System
The infotainment system on the Explorer comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen, with a 10.1-inch touchscreen being available. This is perfectly fine, but considering that some other vehicles have touchscreens that measure 12 inches or more, it may leave some consumers wanting more. Ford may have want to think about enhancing the touchscreen in the future to help its premium trims really stand out.
2. Back Row Could Be More Comfortable
Part of the Explorer's appeal is that it has a third row. This is a place that might be perfect for younger kids, but not for teenagers or adults. This is because it only has about 32 inches of leg room. This isn't enough space for most people to feel comfortable, and some people might not even fit back there.
3. Higher Trims Are Pricey
Sure, the Ford Explorer has a lot to offer, especially with the higher trims. These models have amazing engines and great interior features, but anyone who wants one of these will have to pay a steep price. The ST and Platinum both have starting prices that are above $50,000, and even the Limited costs more than $45,000. Things could add up to much more than that if any options are added on. Unfortunately, this puts these trims out of the price range of many people, and the reality is that many consumers will only be considering the base model and the XLT as viable options.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
SUVs seem like they rule the roads. There are so many SUVs in the market that it can be hard to know which model would be best. The Ford Explorer is a solid choice, and below, there's information that explains how it outshines some well-known competitors.
2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Honda Pilot
In terms of horsepower, the Explorer wins this battle. The Pilot comes with 280 horsepower. This is close to the 300 horsepower that the lower trims of the Explorer have. However, it doesn't come close to the capability in the higher Explorer trims. Plus, the base model of the Pilot only has a five-inch touchscreen that lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Toyota Highlander
Toyota has given the Explorer some competition with its Highlander SUV. Like the Explorer, the Highlander has a relatively small third row. The third row in the Toyota is even more cramped than the one in the Explorer. It also has a little less cargo room than the Explorer does. Finally, the Highlander doesn't have the same level of capability as the Ford does. It doesn't compare in horsepower, torque, or towing capacity, and this will likely be a significant factor for some people as they shop for SUVs.
While the 2021 Explorer might not be perfect, Ford has done an excellent job in designing this SUV. First of all, it can practically handle almost any challenge. This will help it attract outdoor adventurers and people who need strong vehicles for work purposes. With its nicely-appointed cabin and large passenger area, it will attract consumers looking for family-friendly vehicles. It would be a smart purchase for anyone who wants a model that has a nice blend of features and can afford such a high-quality vehicle.
• Why buy a 2020 Ford Explorer? w/ pros vs cons