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2022 Ford Explorer Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.

2022 Ford Explorer Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Base vs XLT, ST-Line vs Timberline, Limited, King Ranch and Platinum

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer Trims - Base vs XLT, ST-Line vs Timberline, Limited, King Ranch and Platinum. What is the difference between them?

If a family needs seating for more than five, but they do not want to deal with a huge SUV or minivan, they generally end up shopping the midsize SUV market. Although both two-row and three-row vehicles exist in this segment, it is easy to find a model that can seat six, seven, or even eight.

One of the most famous midsize SUVs out there is undoubtedly the Ford Explorer. It is currently in its sixth generation, a fact that can be credited to its family-friendly design. In 2022, the SUV made a few minor changes to the feature ability depending on the trim level.

Speaking of trim levels, there is a grand total of six when it comes to the Explorer. Some of them aim toward being more capable, while others lean toward luxury. Many of today's drivers are likely seeking a balance of both.

How does one know which 2022 Ford Explorer to choose? The following breakdown of the trim levels is an excellent place to start the decision-making process.


Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer Base vs XLT Trims. What is the difference?

For the base model of the 2022 Explorer, Ford goes with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine that creates 300-horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Other standard performance features include a 10-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, and trailer sway control. Four-wheel drive, hill descent control, and a terrain management system are all available.

There are 18-inch wheels underneath the base Explorer, and there are no available upgrades. Ford gives all Explorer models LED headlights and taillights. Both the low beams and high beams are automatic. A power liftgate is included as well. As for its style, the base Explorer goes with black door handles and a body-colored liftgate spoiler.

The cabin is home to an air filtration system and tri-zone automatic climate control. Cloth upholstery is standard, but the driver's seat is fairly fancy with its eight-way power adjustment. To help with versatility, the Explorer's second row is 35/30/35 split-folding, and the third row is 50/50 split-folding.

FordPass Connect, which includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, is standard for the 2022 Explorer. This SUV is also home to an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Even the base model gets satellite radio, along with a six-speaker audio system to enjoy it on.

There are a decent number of advanced safety features found in the included Co-Pilot 360 bundle. It has a lane-keeping system that is composed of a lane-keeping alert, lane-keeping assist, and driver alert. The rearview camera has a washer to ensure that the driver is getting a clear view behind them when in reverse. Blind-spot monitoring, pedestrian detection, and forward-collision warning are all standard.

The next option is the XLT, which has the same powertrain. It also sticks with 18-inch wheels, but a buyer can swap them out for 20-inch ones instead if they prefer. The exterior of the XLT gets fancier with its LED signature lighting. There are also black side rails for added convenience. The XLT gives buyers many more paint color options to consider, including Forged Green, Stone Blue, and Burgundy Velvet.

Heated and power-adjustable side mirrors become standard at the XLT level. These mirrors also add security approach lamps. Inside, this Explorer has a push-button start, and it is available with a remote start. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped, and the front rows of seats gain heat. This trim level and higher also get second-row captain's chairs, reducing seating capacity from seven down to six.

There are no real technology of safety upgrades gained by going with the XLT over the base. The one exception is the addition of USB ports for the second row.

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer XLT vs ST-Line. What is the difference?

The price jump between the base model and the XLT is around $3,000, which seems normal. Going up to the ST-Line from the XLT, however, costs over $8,000 more. How does it justify this considerable increase?

There are no mechanical upgrades for the ST-Line, despite the fact that it looks sportier than the base and XLT models. It comes standard on more aggressive-looking 20-inch wheels. LED fog lamps are added, as well as dual exhaust tips. Buyers will find a blackout treatment applied to both the headlamps and taillamps. The ST-Line adds rain-sensing windshield wipers, making it a bit more convenient as well.

A universal garage door is included, along with a wireless charging pad. The previously available remote start gets moved to the standard feature list when looking at the ST-Line. The cabin of this trim level benefits from multi-color interior ambient lighting. An auto-dimming rearview mirror further ups the luxury in this Explorer.

The steering wheel is heated and gains eye-catching red accent stitching. For the upholstery, the ST-Line has synthetic leather with that same red accent stitching for added attitude. This trim level doubles the speakers found on the previous two Explorers with its B&O premium system. Voice-activated navigation is another perk of going with this model.

Perhaps one of the ways that the ST-Line earns its increased price tag is with its additional safety features. It adds Ford Co-Pilot 360+, which has things like adaptive cruise control, evasive steering assist, and a surround-view camera system.

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer ST-Line vs Timberline Trim Level. What is the difference?

For less than an extra $2,000, buyers can choose to move up to the Timberline. It has an off-road-oriented nature, and it includes standard four-wheel drive. The Timberline also adds both hill descent control and a terrain management system, which gives the buyers different drive modes to choose from.

The wheel size is once again 18-inches, and this trim gets laser-etched Timberline logos on each one to help it stand out. All-terrain tires are included in the price. A limited-slip rear differential and steel skid plates help to add to the authenticity of the Timberline's off-road capability claims.

The cabin of this trim level loses the ambient interior lighting found inside the ST-Line. It has a "sport-style" steering wheel with tangerine stitching and paddle shifters. The stitching is continued in the upholstery for a cohesive look. It is important to note that this trim level also loses the voice-activated navigation as a standard feature, which feels a bit odd considering its adventurous nature.

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer Timberline vs Limited Trims. What is the difference?

When it comes to the price tag, the Limited actually falls in between the ST-Line and the Timberline. It is unique because it offers a V6 hybrid powertrain that creates 318-horsepower. This is the way to go for those who are seeking fuel efficiency, but it will drive up the price considerably. According to Ford, this hybrid can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

This trim level sits on 20-inch wheels. It loses many of the performance upgrades found on the Timberline, including the standard four-wheel drive and hill descent control. On the other hand, the Limited adds back many of the things that the Timberline lost. It has ambient interior lighting, for example, along with navigation. On the exterior, the Limited gains turn signal integration for its side mirrors.

The wireless charging pad and universal garage door disappeared on the Timberline, but they are back for the Explorer Limited. This trim level adds heat to its second-row captain's chairs and is the first to offer a power-folding third row. Second-row sunshades are standard, along with leather seating surfaces.

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer Limited vs ST Trims. What is the difference?

The 2022 Explorer ST costs roughly $1,000 more than the Timberline and $2,000 more than the Limited. What sets the ST is what is underneath the hood. It is the first trim to come with a 3.0L EcoBoost V6, which creates 400-horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. The ST also benefits from a sport-tuned suspension. Four-wheel drive remains optional, however.

Underneath the ST trim are 20-inch wheels, but this is the first trim level to offer an upgrade to 21-inch ones. The ST looks like the ST-Line in a few ways, including the black-out taillamps. Unlike the ST-Line, however, the ST shows off quad chrome exhaust tips.

This trim level reverts to a six-speaker audio system, but buyers can pay extra to go back up to 12 speakers. Voice-activated navigation is once again demoted to available rather than standard. The captain's chairs in the second row also lose their standard heat. To help the ST stand out, Ford gives this version of the Explorer silver contrast stitching for the upholstery and steering wheel.

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer ST vs King Ranch. What is the difference?

The step up to the King Ranch will set buyers back over $6,000 more. This trim level has an exclusive design for its 20-inch wheels. A hands-free power liftgate is added here, and the roof rails are satin aluminum rather than black.

A significant upgrade happens for the side mirrors, which gain an auto-dimming feature on the driver's side. Both sides have memory settings for added convenience. The cabin gets even more sophisticated leather upholstery, and the heat comes back for the second row. This is the first trim to come standard with a power-folding third-row seat.

For the infotainment system, the King Ranch upgrades to a 10.1-inch touchscreen. A digital gauge cluster and 14-speaker premium audio system further add to the high-tech feel of this trim level. And to make the King Ranch seem more luxurious, it adds wood interior accents. The only safety upgrade here is the addition of rear automatic emergency braking.

Compare the 2022 Ford Explorer King vs Platinum Trims. What is the difference?

At the top of the trim ladder is the Platinum, which costs less than $1,000 more than the King Ranch. At the same time, it costs more than $20,000 more than the base model of the 2022 Explorer. The Platinum trim level comes standard with the V6, but it can also have the hybrid powertrain underneath its hood. This trim level goes with the 21-inch wheels standard.

The front of the Platinum trim level is home to adaptive headlights that swivel as the driver turns the steering wheel. Like all of the other models, this trim has scuff plates. The Platinum trim level is the only one with illuminated scuff plates, however. Ultra-sophisticated tri-diamond perforated leather upholstery is standard, and it helps cement the Platinum's reputation as the fanciest of all Explorer models.

Active park assist is exclusive to the top trim level. This advanced automated parking system can handle shifting, braking, accelerating, and steering. The driver just has to hit a button and put the Explorer in neutral.


Final Thoughts

If they choose, buyers can end up spending quite a bit of money on the 2022 Ford Explorer. Ultimately, it is not necessary. The base model of this SUV is equipped quite nicely. It has plenty of active safety features and most of the convenience features families are after. If possible, however, drivers should step up to the XLT.

The XLT has standard captain's chairs, which makes the third row so much easier to access. It also has heated front seats, second-row USB ports, and other little upgrades that make drives more enjoyable.

Buyers may be tempted to go with the ST or higher due to the V6, but the standard EcoBoost engine does just fine when it comes to moving the Explorer around. With the exception of a couple of safety features, the upper trim levels primarily add flash rather than substance.

The 2022 Ford Explorer XLT is the right way to go for families needing a well-equipped SUV at a reasonable price.

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2021 Ford Explorer Trim Levels & Configurations
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2021 Ford Explorer Trime Levels