*All information in this article has been revised and updated for the latest 2021-2022 models.
It’s not too early to look forward to a new decade of cars and trucks. In this article, we’re looking at the all-new 2021 Ford Explorer after the Ford design team improved virtually every aspect of this bestselling crossover sport utility vehicle. In this preview guide, we’ll take a look at what’s new and what’s still good about the sixth generation Ford Explorer.
What’s New for 2021?
What isn’t new? That’d almost be an easier question to answer. Heated seats are now standard on the XLT with the option for a heated steering wheel and Sports appearance package available. 8-way power adjustable front seats are also standard on the Limited, ST and Platinum trims now, as well. A cargo organizer has also been made available on all trims except the Platinum, where it is standard. A few new trims have joined the lineup including the King Ranch, ST and especially interesting, Timberline trim. On top of that, buyers can now opt for a rear-wheel drive version of the Platinum. We recommend you keep an eye out for an all-electric model but that won’t be determined until at least 2022.
Adventures in Space
Technically, there’s a little less cargo space in the Ford Explorer but the load floor actually grew, now measuring 48.1 inches in width between the wheel wells. That means easier loading because larger pieces can lie flat. That, plus the automatic liftgate activating just by sticking your foot under the rear of the Explorer while the keys are in your pocket, means about the easiest loading experience ever.
Since 2020, the Explorer now has had a very long wheelbase, which becomes obvious when we compare the Explorer to one of its competitors. The 2020 Explorer had a wheelbase 9 inches longer than the Honda Pilot, but the Ford is only 2 inches longer overall. A longer wheelbase fares better over bumps in the road and feels more stable.
New Powerful Engine
The 2019 model’s standard engine is gone, replaced by a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder. There’s an extra 20 horsepower this time around, totaling 300 horsepower, along with 310 pound-feet of torque. That’s power in a pinch, and more V6 power than any of the Explorer’s rivals.
If you want even more power, there’s the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, good for 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet. The Trailer Tow package (optional on XLT and Limited models) makes the Explorer a workhorse with top towing capacity at 5,600 pounds, rivaling the compact pickup class.
Trim Levels and Hybrids
The base Explorer is the starter trim, but the base offers standard features you wouldn’t expect on an entry-level trim. You’ll get LED headlights, rear privacy glass, power liftgate, rear parking sensors, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver information display, eight-way power driver's seat, 40/20/40-split second-row seat, 50/50-split third-row seat, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, 8-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and six-speaker audio system with satellite radio. These trim features just get better from there.
The Explorer Limited Hybrid is worth talking about. This hybrid has a 3.3-liter V6 mated to a hybrid powertrain for a combined 318 horsepower. You can expect about 24 miles per gallon combined, a significant step forward compared to the strictly gas-fueled Explorer.
No matter the Explorer you choose, you can expect plenty of room, a smooth ride, a powerful engine, and more.