2021 Ford Explorer Review: Trims, Prices, Performance, Interior, and Rivals Comparison

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Joel Sam Santhosh

Content Writer

October 21, 2020 at 02:43 PM

The 2021 Ford Explorer is here and it gets some significant updates. Ford has gone ahead and significantly slashed the prices of this midsize SUV, and the lineup now starts at $32,225. Nevertheless, Ford offers the same turbocharged 4-cylinder engine moving forward with an additional optional hybrid powertrain with the range-topping Limited model. The 2021 Explorer which was set to be released sometime around the Summer of 2020, got delayed because of the ongoing pandemic.

2021 Ford Explorer Latest Updates-

Ford introduced the sixth generation of the Ford Explorer for the 2020 model year based on the CD6 platform which the Explorer shares with the Lincoln Aviator. Having said that, the 2021 Ford Explorer, priced at $32,225 also sets forward with two engine choices, one being a hearty turbocharged four-cylinder and the other a much more potent twin-turbo V6 often found in the popular ST model and gets subtle exterior tweaks to keep it looking fresh. An optional hybrid powertrain also makes its way into the lineup. The 2021 Explorer is set to reach dealerships across the US sometime at the end of 2020.

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Ford will also be offering a new XLT Sport Appearance Package which includes new 20-inch aluminum wheels for the XLT trim. Furthermore, Ford has gone ahead and brought some much-needed comfort feature upgrades across the lineup, such as heated and 8-way adjustable seats being offered as standard features in the top-most trims. That's not all, a new cargo organizer also makes its way as a standard feature into the lineup. Having said that, will these minor changes be enough for it to pull up to the likes of Subaru Ascent, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander in this segment.

2021 Ford Explorer

Model Specs

Release Date

13th July


2.3L turbocharged Inline-4 / 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6


10-Speed Automatic



Trims and Prices (MSRP)

Base - $32,225

XLT - $34,000

Limited - $44,710 ST - $52,625
Platinum - $54,480  


  • Rapid Red Metallic Colors
  • Agate Black Colors
  • Atlas Blue Colors
  • Blue Metallic Colors
  • Iconic Silver Colors
  • Magnetic Colors
  • Oxford White Colors
  • Rich Copper Metallic Colors
  • Silver Spruce Colors
  • Star White Metallic Colors


New cargo Organizer


Sport Appearance Package for the XLT trim

What are the Trims and Prices of the 2021 Ford Explorer?

So the major update for the 2021 Ford Explorer continues to be its reduction in MSRP. Starting from the base trim, the prices are down by $540 as compared to the 2020 model. That goes all the way up to a $3,770 reduction in the price of the Explorer Platinum AWD.

Following these lines, the trims of the 2021 model remain the same as before. A special part of these trims is a performance-oriented model - the Ford Explorer ST, and an efficiency-focused variant - Ford Explorer Hybrid. Both of which have been reviewed separately as well.













MSRP (AWD) $34,225 $36,000 $46,710 $52,605 $54,480

Key Features



10-way Power Driver’s Seat

Auto-dimming Rearview Mirror

Hill Descent Control

Active Park Assist 2.0


Air Filtration System

LED Signature Lighting

Forward Sensing System

Class III Trailer Tow Package

Illuminated Front Scuff Plates


Rearview Camera w/Washer

Intelligent Acess w/Push-button Start

Heated Steering Wheel

Intelligent 4WD w/Terrain Management

Twin-panel Moonroof


Remote Start

Second-row Captain's Chairs

Ambient Lighting

Voice-activated Navigation

Sony Premium Stereo w/12 Speakers


8-way Power-adjustable Front Seats

Roof Rack Side Rails

Universal Garage-door Opener


Quad Chrome Exhaust Tips


Ford Pass Connect 4G LTE Wi-Fi



Dual Chrome Exhaust Tips


Satin Chrome Lower Bodyside Cladding Inserts

As it is evident from the table, Explorer’s pricing has been slashed significantly for the year 2021. However, the destination charges of $1,245 remain the same. So, the bid for the 2021 Ford Explorer starts at $33,470 for the base model and goes up to $55,725 for the Platinum trim. 

Will there be an Engine update for the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Ford bought a major engine change for the 2020 model year, so there won't be an update for the engine lineup for the model year 2021. The 2020 Explorer had one of the best engine lineups in the midsize crossover segment. The base engine offers great performance and fuel economy.

There is also an option for a 3.0-liter V6 engine which is offered with the Platinum trim and the ST model. In the platinum trim, the V6 is tuned down to 365 horsepower, while on the ST it offers 400 horsepower. All the engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission which is one of the greatest in the segment when it comes to precision and smoothness. 


2021 Ford Explorer (Base / ST)

2020 Subaru Ascent

2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Toyota Highlander


$32,225 / $52,605





2.3L Turbocharged Inline-4 / Twin-Turbo 3L V6 

2.4L Turbocharged Flat-4

3.5L V6

3.5L V6







10-Speed Automatic


6-Speed Automatic

8-Speed Automatic


300hp@5,500rpm / 400hp @ 6,000rpm

260 hp @ 5,600 rpm




310 lb-ft@3,500rpm / 415 lb-ft @ 2500

277 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm



0-60 MPH 6.8 sec / 5.6 sec 7.0 sec 6.1 sec 7.2 sec
Quarter Mile 15.3 sec / 13.9 sec 15.5 sec 14.47 sec 15.5 sec

Towing Capacity

5,300 lbs

2,000 lbs

3,500 lbs 

5,000 lbs 

The smooth-shifting automatic transmission offers a low first-gear ratio that does a decent job mimicking a traditional 4WD when the off-road mode is engaged or the trailer is attached. Gear eight, nine, and ten are all overdrive ratios and they only come into play after you get on the highway. For all-weather capability, Ford rationally provides an intelligent 4WD as an option.

Tow capacity will depend on the powertrain option that you choose. The 300-hp Ford Explorer is only capable of towing 5,300 pounds but when equipped with an optional towing package (Trailer Tow Class III) it can tow 5,600. Considering the rivals, the Ford Explorer fares decently here. The Toyota Highlander's towing capacity is somewhat at par with the Explorer, while the Subaru Ascent is the least capable here. 

What are the 0-60 and Quarter-mile timings of the 2021 Ford Explorer?

The 2021 Ford Explorer with its power-packed engine options will also sprint fast by covering 0-60 MPH in just 6.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15.3 seconds. The vehicle will give amazing adrenaline rushing to passengers with the safest and peaceful ride, as Ford has taken care of it properly too. Ford Explorer is the among fastest sprinter among rivals in 0-60 MPH but rivals cover a quarter-mile in almost close time.


2021 Ford Explorer / Explorer ST

2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Toyota Highlander

2020 Hyundai Palisade

0-60 MPH 

6.8 sec / 5.6 sec

6.1 sec

7.2 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile 

15.3 sec / 13.9

14.7 sec

15.5 sec

15.8 sec

Top Speed 

143 MPH / 

130 MPH

118 MPH

130 MPH

60-0 MPH

121 ft / 114 ft

117 ft

128 ft


Due to its heavyweight, it is prone to listen to brake slowly but Ford has managed to do this thing efficiently for customers’ safety. The Honda Pilot provides the best acceleration and braking stats among rivals. Despite its heavyweight, Ford also manages to provide an efficient braking system for a peaceful ride.

Also Read:

Will there be an improvement in Fuel Economy for the 2021 Ford Explorer?

There is no change in the engine lineup so there won’t be an increase or decrease in the fuel economy either. The EPA estimates for the 2020 Explorer is one of the best in the segment. In city driving, the Explorer does 21 miles per gallon and 28 miles per gallon on highways. It even offers a great range thanks to the large fuel tank.


2021 Ford Explorer

2020 Subaru Ascent

2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Toyota Highlander

MPG (City)





MPG (Highway)





MPG (Combined)





Fuel Capacity

17.9 gallons

19.3 gallons

19.5 gallons

17.9 gallons

Range (City/Hwy/Combined)

376/501/430 miles

386/502/425 miles

371/527/429 miles

376/519/430 miles

The more powerful V6 engine on offers does have a lower fuel economy but the base engine offers great power without compromising the fuel economy. Even the real-world MPG figures of the base engine close to the EPA estimates. Speaking of rivals, the Subaru Ascent's MPG figures and Toyota Highlander's MPG figures are at par with each other, following the Explorer closely, The Honda Pilot's fuel-efficiency ranks last.

Will there be an update on the Interior of the 2021 Ford Explorer?

The 2020 Ford Explorer is built on a new platform with a well-proportioned interior. Its cabin is much more soothing and ergonomic than the predecessor. The base model has a seven-seater layout, while on the XLT and above the second-row gets the captain's chair, which makes it one of the best second rows in the segment. 

Speaking of the 2021 Ford Explorer, there will be absolutely no changes inside the SUV's cabin for the new model year. Also, standard on the model is the cloth upholstery and soft-touch material around. While the Limited trim and above comes with leatherette upholstery. The cabin is a quiet place to be and is well-equipped to take on longer journeys.


2021 Ford Explorer

2020 Subaru Ascent

2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Toyota Highlander

Seating Capacity





First Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)





Second Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)





Third Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)





Cargo Capacity

18.2 cu-ft

17.6 cu-ft

16.5 cu-ft

16.0 cu-ft

The cabin is very spacious and offers a lot of comfort for all the rows. The 2021 Explorer also has one of the best cargo spaces in the segment. Since there is no change in the 2021 model, it will continue to offer the same storage capacity as its predecessor too. The SUV also has a lot of features on the inside. These are some of the most notable ones:

  • Tilting and telescopic steering column
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Memory driver’s seat
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Cooled Front seats
  • Rear-Seat Entertainment

Will there be an updated Infotainment inside the 2021 Ford Explorer?

The 2020 model offers a lot of infotainment features. Like the base and XLT trims are equipped with Ford’s SYNC-3 infotainment system which comes with a standard 6-speaker audio system and an 8.0" touchscreen display. While the higher trims enhance the touchscreen display to a 10.1" vertically mounted screen.

The model also offered a lot of connectivity features like 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity and smartphone integrations like Apple Carplay, Android Auto, and even Amazon Alexa. It offers additional add-on packages for a price. The 2021 model will likely offer the same amount of features if not more. Here are some of the features offered alongside the infotainment:

  • AM/FM Stereo HD Radio
  • Speed-Sensitive Volume Control
  • Auxiliary Audio Input and USB w/External Media Control
  • Satellite Radio Service
  • USB Connection
  • 6 Total Sony Premium Brand Speakers including a Subwoofer
  • Smart Device Integration
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • Navigation System
  • Onboard Hands-Free Communication System

Also Read:

Will the 2021 Ford Explorer's Exterior get updated?

Ford is adding a new XLT Sport Appearance Package to the 2021 lineup. It features unique Carbonized Gray-painted 20-inch wheels with matching grille, skid plates, and hood lettering, and finished with dual chrome exhaust tips. To match the exterior the interior will include unique ActiveX Light Slate two-tone seats with accent stitching, matching the center console lid and door trim panels. 

Other than that there are no other changes to the exterior of the car concerning the 2020 model. 2020 saw the Ford Explorer ditch the body on frame construction and move to the unibody construction. This new unibody construction meant that front and rear overhangs are now shorter and there is a steep increase in departure angles.


2021 Ford Explorer

2020 Subaru Ascent

2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Toyota Highlander

Curb Weight

4,345 lbs

4,603 lbs

4,036 lbs

4,145 lbs
















Ground Clearance










The headlights are slimmer and enclosed between a more geometrical grille, and both the upward sweep of the character lines and tapered roof give the new Explorer an athletic stance. Compared to its competitors, the Ford Explorer looks more like a proper SUV, all credits to its comparatively brawny dimensions. The 2021 model will retain this look. These are some of the most appealing elements of its design:

  • LED taillights
  • LED headlights
  • Twin Exhaust
  • Quad Exhaust
  • Heated Rear View Mirror
  • Auto-Dimming rearview mirror
  • Twin-Panel Moonroof

Will there be an improvement in Safety for the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Safety is one of the highlights of the crossover segment and the 2020 model Ford Explorer didn't disappoint. The Explorer scores well in the NHTSA crash-test receiving five stars overall. The only test where it scored four stars is the rollover test. Other than that, it aced it.

It also did well in the IIHS crashworthiness, scoring the best score of ‘Good’ in all tests, except for the front driver-side small overlap test. It also has a good amount of safety features as standard. The 2021 model will continue in the footsteps of its predecessor. Here are some of the features offered on the three-row SUV:

  • Front, Rear, and Third Row Head Airbags
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Post-Collision Safety System
  • Traction Control
  • Stability Control
  • Front and Rear Ventilated Disc Brakes
  • LED Headlamp
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Should you Buy the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Ford has announced the pricing for the 2021 models, and the lineup now costs $540 less than before for the base model. For reference, the 2020 base model starts at MSRP $32,765 but the base model is only available as a fleet order. The next trim is the XLT with pricing starting at $34,000, which is still more expensive than its competitors but over $2,000 cheaper than before.

Ford hasn’t released an official launch date for the 2021 model. It was supposed to be launched during this summer, however, because of the global pandemic the launch of the 2021 Ford Explorer will most likely be delayed to the end of 2020. It is undoubtedly a great choice if you are looking for a car in this segment.

Also Read:

2021 Ford Explorer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many miles does a Ford Explorer usually last?

Explorer has always been an owner's delight. A Ford Explorer usually lasts well over 100,000 miles.

What is the top speed of a Ford Explorer?

The top speed of a Ford Explorer is 143 MPH.

What's the average annual maintenance cost of a Ford Explorer?

The annual maintenance cost of a Ford Explorer is around $626. 

What's the warranty package on offer with the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Though there have been no official subtleties about the warranty package of the 2021 Ford Explorer, yet since it's essentially a carryover model, we expect it to get the same warranty package as the 2020 model. Below is a breakdown of the Ford Explorer's warranty package:

  • Bumper to Bumper – 3 years/30000 miles (covers everything except a shortlist of excluded parts)
  • Powertrain – 5 Year/60,000 miles ( covers engine, transmission, FWD, RWD, 4WD, and AWD)
  • Safety Restraint System – 5 year/60,000 miles (defects coverage for seatbelts and airbags)
  • Corrosion (Perforation only) – 5 years/unlimited miles (rust damage of the body panels)
  • Diesel Engine – 5 years/`100,000 miles(covers the direct engine and certain engine parts)
  • Emissions – Up to 8 years/80,000 miles (Covers defective parts related to the vehicle’s emission system)
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