2020 vs 2021: What's the Difference?
The changes made to the Ford Explorer for the 2021 model year consist of a few minor things. For instance, the XLT now gets heated seats, and its steering wheel can be heated as well. The XLT can be enhanced with a new Sport Appearance package that brings light slate upholstery, 20-inch carbonized gray wheels, and special skid plates to the vehicle. On the Limited, ST, and Platinum trims, the front passenger's seat is power-adjustable in eight ways. To help keep the cargo area nice and tidy, the Platinum has a cargo organizer, which is an option on many other trims.
What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
First, it's important to note that the engine is dependent on the trim level. The base model and XLT run on a standard engine, while the ST and Platinum run on more powerful engines. The Limited can either be powered by the standard engine or a hybrid powertrain.
On the base model, there are driver-assist systems, cloth seats, and a power liftgate. The XLT has more amenities, such as LED signature lighting, heated front-row seats, and a few more high-tech components. Passengers in the Limited trim get to enjoy leather seats, with people in the second row also having access to heating elements in their seats. Additional premium features, like dual chrome exhaust tips, have been put in place on the exterior of the Limited.
The ST is quite athletic and has an aggressive look. It has a sport-tuned suspension, quad exhaust tips, and special badging. However, the best amenities are found in the Platinum. They include perforated leather upholstery, full LED lighting, a hand-scree tailgate, and satin chrome accents.
Which Trim is Right for Me?
Every trim offers something different. For instance, the ST will appeal to performance-oriented drivers, and the Platinum - though expensive - is the most impressive. The XLT may be the best choice for most customers, as it has a good amount of benefits but isn't burdened by such a high price tag.
What Kind of Technology Does it Have?
Ford + Alexa and SYNC technology can be found in the new Explorer. The first system is very convenient to use, and it can give people access to news, traffic information, shopping, and more. Voice commands are accepted through the infotainment system, and there are steering-wheel-mounted controls as well.
With smartphone connectivity, drivers can easily make phone calls, check on their messages, and access media content that they've previously downloaded or would like to stream. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is standard, too. Higher trims are upgraded with Bang & Olufsen speakers, and many Explorers come with navigation.
How Does It Perform?
To enhance the athletic nature of the Explorer, Ford has configured it as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Of course, the Explorer is also available with four-wheel drive. With Ford's intelligent 4WD system, there are seven drive modes that can be selected, depending on the situation. Modes include trail, deep snow/sand, slippery, and tow/haul.
A few different engines are available, all of which are paired with ten-speed transmissions. The first option is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Though it's the "standard" engine, it delivers impressive results, with 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
There's a larger engine, as well. The 3.0-liter EcoBoost is found in the ST and Platinum trims. In the Platinum, the engine generates 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to some modifications in the design of the ST, this trim comes with 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque.
Yet another powertrain to consider is a hybrid one. It uses a 3.3-liter V6 engine with an electric motor. Together, they give the Explorer 318 horsepower.
Is It Safe and Reliable?
Ford has equipped the Explorer with a full suite of driver-assist technologies. The company calls the package "Ford Co-Pilot360." It consists of various sensors and mitigations systems that can take an active role in keeping people safe.
One of the components is Driver Alert. When it seems that the driver needs to refocus his/her attention, a warning will be issued. Other warnings will be given when the Explorer starts to drift out of a lane or when the vehicle is approaching another vehicle too quickly. If appropriate, the Explorer can correct steering and slow itself down as it tries to prevent accidents.
Some other driver-assist technologies can help people avoid hitting others when changing lanes or backing up out of a driveway or parking spot. Higher trims can also come with parking assist. This system can take over steering while parallel parking or backing into a perpendicular spot; the driver would remain in control over accelerating and braking.
What's the Interior Like?
With three rows of seats, the Explorer appeals to people who have a lot of passengers to transport. The middle row can be set up with a bench seat or two captain's chairs. In the back row, there is a 50/50 split bench that can accommodate two people. Keep in mind that the third row might be a bit small for adults, but the second row is spacious and has plenty of leg room.
All of the rear seats can be folded down to create about 84 cubic feet of space to accommodate cargo. Even if some or all of the rear seats are up, there can still be a lot of room to hold gear, groceries, or any other items.
The cabin can be quite sophisticated, with heated and ventilated front seats, power-operated seats in every row, and leather upholstery. The seats in the front can even come with an Active Motion feature. This gives them the ability to provide massages that can reduce fatigue.
What are the Alternatives to this Model?
The market is packed with highly capable SUVs that are perfect for family outings, regular commutes, or big adventures. Models that are similar to the Ford Explorer include the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, and Toyota Highlander.
Note: All Ford Explorer lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.