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$33,920
Starting MSRP
$33,748
Starting Mkt Avg
TrueCar Rating
Owner Rating
Pros

Wide selection of models. Top safety ratings. Generous cargo space & high towing capacity.

Cons

Unimpressive fuel economy from hybrid model. Cramped third-row seating. Top trims are pricey for the class.

Verdict

With room for seven passengers and one of the largest cargo areas in the midsize SUV class, the 2021 Ford Explorer will appeal to many buyers. Its generous selection of trims covers the gamut from basic utility to leather-lined luxury: all with the confidence of available four-wheel drive and a long list of advanced safety technology.

Pros

Wide selection of models. Top safety ratings. Generous cargo space & high towing capacity.

Cons

Unimpressive fuel economy from hybrid model. Cramped third-row seating. Top trims are pricey for the class.

Verdict

With room for seven passengers and one of the largest cargo areas in the midsize SUV class, the 2021 Ford Explorer will appeal to many buyers. Its generous selection of trims covers the gamut from basic utility to leather-lined luxury: all with the confidence of available four-wheel drive and a long list of advanced safety technology.

Overview

The three-row Ford Explorer is positioned between the compact five-passenger Ford Escape and Bronco Sport models and the full-size Ford Expedition. Redesigned in 2020, buyers can choose from seven Explorer trims and four powertrains (including a hybrid model). All trims are available with four-wheel drive, which includes Ford's driver-selectable Terrain Management System to help the SUV handle specific weather and off-road driving situations.

Handsome and secure in its own skin, the Explorer is one of just a few midsize SUVs that are rear-wheel drive: a design typically associated with truck-based vehicles such as the off-road-oriented Toyota 4Runner. The Explorer is more middle-of-the-road, as its modern underpinnings give it a solid, jiggle-free feel and a quiet, confident ride on the highway. In addition to a hybrid model, buyers can select from three turbocharged EcoBoost engines that deliver ample acceleration and segment-leading trailer-towing ability on the King Ranch trim.

What's New for 2021

The big news for 2021 is a new King Ranch trim, which features a striking two-tone Mahogany leather interior, 20-inch wheels, the 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 engine, and a vertical 10.1-inch infotainment screen. The other trim levels receive minor feature and option changes along with dealer-installed packages and Yakima brand accessories.

2021 Ford Explorer Trim Comparison

Standard
Optional
Unequipped

* Additional Options Available

Standard
Optional
Unequipped

* Additional Options Available

Starting MSRP

Starting Market Average

MPG

Engine

Blind Spot System

Lane Keep Assist

Moonroof

Front Heated Seats

Cruise Control

Climate Control

Proximity Keyless Entry

Bluetooth

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Apple CarPlay

Android Auto

Wheel Size

Starting MSRP

$33,920*

Starting MSRP

$36,070*

Starting MSRP

$46,250*

Starting MSRP

$47,010

Starting MSRP

$49,995

Starting MSRP

$53,595*

Starting MSRP

$53,725*

Starting Market Average

$33,691

Starting Market Average

$35,580

Starting Market Average

$45,441

Starting Market Average

Starting Market Average

$49,235

Starting Market Average

$52,268

Starting Market Average

$52,395

MPG

21 city/28 hwy*

MPG

21 city/28 hwy*

MPG

21 city/28 hwy*

MPG

20 city/27 hwy

MPG

18 city/24 hwy

MPG

18 city/24 hwy

MPG

18 city/24 hwy*

Engine

2.3L I4 Turbo

Engine

2.3L I4 Turbo

Engine

2.3L I4 Turbo

Engine

2.3L I4 Turbo

Engine

3.0L V6 Turbo

Engine

3.0L V6 Turbo

Engine

3.0L V6 Turbo*

Blind Spot System

Blind Spot System

Blind Spot System

Blind Spot System

Blind Spot System

Blind Spot System

Blind Spot System

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist

Lane Keep Assist

Moonroof

Moonroof

Moonroof

Moonroof

Moonroof

Moonroof

Moonroof

Front Heated Seats

Front Heated Seats

Front Heated Seats

Front Heated Seats

Front Heated Seats

Front Heated Seats

Front Heated Seats

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

Cruise Control

Climate Control

Climate Control

Climate Control

Climate Control

Climate Control

Climate Control

Climate Control

Proximity Keyless Entry

Proximity Keyless Entry

Proximity Keyless Entry

Proximity Keyless Entry

Proximity Keyless Entry

Proximity Keyless Entry

Proximity Keyless Entry

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Bluetooth Streaming Audio

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay

Android Auto

Android Auto

Android Auto

Android Auto

Android Auto

Android Auto

Android Auto

Wheel Size

18"

Wheel Size

18"

Wheel Size

20"

Wheel Size

Wheel Size

20"

Wheel Size

20"

Wheel Size

21"

Trims and Pricing

The 2021 Explorer covers a wide expanse of pricing and features with a total of seven trim levels: base, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, King Ranch, ST and Platinum. All trims have standard rear-wheel drive with all-wheel drive as an option except the ST and Platinum, which come standard with all-wheel drive.

The base trim starts at $33,920 for staple features such as cloth seating, a power liftgate, and bench seats for the second and third row.

The XLT ($36,070) gets upgraded 18-inch aluminum wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and captain's chairs in the second row.

Our pick for the best value is the non-hybrid version of the Limited ($46,250) which adds leather upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, a heated and power-adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, Sync 3 with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, navigation, a 360-degree camera, and adaptive cruise control. The Limited is also available as a hybrid.

Above the Limited, the Explorer gets into near-luxury territory with the King Ranch ($53,395) and Platinum ($55,725) trim levels which add high-end leather seating and unique colors and trim. There is also the sporty Explorer ST ($54,075) with blacked out exterior trim, unique wheels, and a sport-tuned suspension.

This is what others paid nationwide for a 2021 Ford Explorer Base
How to Use the TrueCar Price Graph

The TrueCar Price Graph shows you new car sales data in a way that helps you easily recognize a fair price for a vehicle similar to the one you want. The vertical bars represent what people in your area recently paid for similar vehicles. These transactions don’t include dealer documentation, administrative, or similar processing fees.

How to Use the TrueCar Price Graph

The TrueCar Price Graph shows you new car sales data in a way that helps you easily recognize a fair price for a vehicle similar to the one you want. The vertical bars represent what people in your area recently paid for similar vehicles. These transactions don’t include dealer documentation, administrative, or similar processing fees.

  • What is MSRP?

    MSRP stands for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, sometimes also known as the sticker price. Because this price is only a suggestion, a dealer can choose to sell a vehicle above—or, more often, below—MSRP.

  • What is Market Average?

    Based on actual recent transactions other buyers have made, the Market Average shows you the average price others paid for vehicles similar to the one you want, while taking into account that most of these vehicles have different option combinations from the ones you specified.

  • Statewide, Regional, and National Data

    If there are insufficient transactions in your area, we calculate your Market Average by gathering statewide, regional, or national data. Because this data can come from a large geographical area it may not be as representative of your local market.

MSRP
$33,920
Market Average
$33,748
Avg Savings off MSRP
0.5% off
Customize Yours
Excellent Price
Great Price

0% - 4% off MSRP

$32,445 - $33,893

Fair Price
High Price
35
sales
105
sales
111
sales
31
sales
Select Style
Nationwide Data

This graph helps you recognize a fair price for the Ford Explorer by displaying national new car sales transactions from the past 30 days. This data can come from a large geographical area, so may not be as representative of your local market. The prices have been normalized to account for transactions involving different configurations of this model.

Engine and Performance

The 2021 Explorer offers more powertrain choices than any other three-row midsize SUV competitor. Base, XLT, and Limited trims come with a strong 300-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder that has no trouble getting this sizable SUV up to speed. The Limited Hybrid uses a 3.3-liter V6 and an electric motor rated at 318 hp, but it's slightly slower around town because it's tuned for maximum mileage.

The Platinum and new King Ranch are powered by a smooth and torque-rich 365-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that offers a refined feel and impressive acceleration. The sporty ST trim gets an aggressive 400-hp version of the twin-turbo V6. This makes it one of the quickest vehicles in the segment short of V8-powered competitors such as the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Explorers, and it gets the most out of every engine in the lineup with smooth, well-timed shifts.

Overall, the Explorer offers an agreeable balance of ride quality and handling. The steering is also nicely weighted and precise. It's not too darty and doesn't require constant lane vigilance, nor too heavy and tiring on long drives. The brakes inspire confidence with a good top-of-pedal response and easy modulation. The brakes on the hybrid version feel less refined, as it has a regenerative system that helps charge the battery when slowing down. The ST version adds a satisfying dollop of power, grip, and braking force that stops just short of being truly entertaining. All versions of the Explorer are tuned to use regular unleaded fuel, but the turbocharged engines (which Ford brands as EcoBoost) will respond to the use of premium unleaded with a slight performance boost.

Fuel Economy

Along with the Toyota Highlander and Toyota Venza, the Ford Explorer is one of just a few midsize SUVs to offer a hybrid powertrain. However, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the Explorer Hybrid at a disappointing 27 mpg with rear-wheel drive in combined city/highway driving and 25 mpg with all-wheel drive. Compare that to the 23-24 mpg combined estimate for the base 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder or the 36 mpg rating for the Highlander Hybrid, and the $4,850 upcharge for Explorer Hybrid doesn't pencil out so well.

2021 Ford Explorer Exterior Photos

Interior

The basic Explorer interior layout is practical with hard plastic trim that doesn't look or feel too innovative. Buyers will want to move up to the Explorer Platinum and new King Ranch trim for a substantial dose of soft-touch trim. The Explorer's front seats are comfortable with good support and plenty of adjustments. They're cloth-covered in base models, use synthetic material in the midlevel XLT, and are slathered in leather in higher trims.

The Ford Explorer is one of the longest and roomiest three-row SUVs in the midsize class. Measuring 198.8 inches front to rear, the Explorer offers more cargo space and third-row legroom than any competitor aside from the Chevrolet Traverse. Pushing a single lever eases access to the Explorer's third row. But as with the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, the seat's bottom cushion sits very low on the floor, making it uncomfortable for adults. A standard power liftgate opens access to the 18.2 cubic foot cargo area, which is wide enough to carry a 4-foot sheet of plywood or drywall. With both rows of seating folded down, the Explorer offers 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space: making it one of the more spacious vehicles in the class.

Infotainment & Connectivity

The 2021 Explorer comes standard with a landscape-format 8-inch infotainment touchscreen in base, XLT, and Limited trims. You get upgraded to a portrait-format 10.1-inch touchscreen in the King Ranch, ST, and Platinum. Both touchscreens feature Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, have excellent legibility, and respond really well. Steering wheel inputs, voice inputs, and traditional volume/tuning knobs sit below the screen. Base and XLT trims come with a simple six-speaker AM/FM stereo with SiriusXM satellite radio while higher trims bring a sonorous 12-speaker B&O premium audio system with HD Radio and embedded navigation. In-vehicle Wi-Fi is standard on all models.

2021 Ford Explorer Interior Photos

Safety

The 2021 Ford Explorer stands out for its high safety ratings. It received a five-star rating (highest rating) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety chose it as a Top Safety Pick+ (highest rating) with "Good" ratings for small-offset and moderate-offset front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, seats, and passenger restraints. The Explorer comes with an extensive roster of safety and driver-assistive tech now common with midsize SUVs, including standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic monitoring.

Ford Explorer vs. the Competition

With a total of seven trims, four engines, and a choice of rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, the 2021 Ford Explorer has something to offer all midsize-SUV buyers. The Explorer comes with class-leading passenger and cargo space, strong performance from its three available turbocharged EcoBoost engines, excellent connectivity with a choice of two infotainment systems, and a long list of standard safety and driver-assistive technology. Shoppers needing more cargo capacity should check out the Chevrolet Traverse or the Volkswagen Atlas. If you're looking for a hybrid model with better fuel economy, consider the Toyota Highlander Hybrid with its EPA-estimated combined 35-36 mpg fuel economy rating. If the Explorer's higher trims are too pricey for your budget, the Hyundai Palisade offers high-quality materials, fit, and finish at more competitive prices.

Ford Explorer Owner Reviews

Based on 286 Reviews
Overall Satisfaction
4.8
Performance
5.0
Comfort
5.0
Fuel Efficiency
4.0
Safety Technology
5.0
Features
5.0
All Reviews
5.0
Performance
5.0
Comfort
5.0
Fuel Efficiency
5.0
Safety Technology
5.0
Features
4.0
pros
I enjoy the comfort of the ride , accessibility to infotainment and overall interior and exterior appearance.
cons
The only thing I may have requested differently is black Ford rims.
Submitted by Oliver T on May 14, 2021|2021 Ford Explorer XLT RWD|Purchased on Apr 2021
4.0
Performance
5.0
Comfort
5.0
Fuel Efficiency
3.0
Safety Technology
4.0
Features
4.0
pros
very nice ride, good power, transmission very good
cons
too many electronics
Submitted by Rich K on May 10, 2021|2021 Ford Explorer XLT RWD|Purchased on Apr 2021
5.0
Performance
5.0
Comfort
5.0
Fuel Efficiency
5.0
Safety Technology
5.0
Features
4.0
pros
The space and how smooth it drives.
cons
There is not a garage door opener button and no memory for seats.
Submitted by LINDSAY E on May 10, 2021|2021 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD|Purchased on Apr 2021

2021 Ford Explorer FAQs

The recently-redesigned 2021 Ford Explorer is a three-row midsize SUV with seating for seven people. There are two seats in the front, two seats in the middle and a bench seat in the back row with room for three.

The Base, XLT and Limited trims of the Ford Explorer have a curb weight of 4,345lbs. The ST and Platinum trims have a curb weight of 4,701lbs and 4,727lbs respectively. The heaviest Explorer, the Hybrid configuration, is nearly 15% heavier than the base model at 4,969lbs.

The latest Ford Explorer comes in five distinct trim levels: Base, XLT, Limited, ST, and Platinum. All new Explorers come standard with the latest Ford driver safety assistance systems. The Base trim includes automatic LED headlights, a power liftgate and cloth upholstery. The XLT trim adds an alarm system, heated front seats and a keyless ignition. The Limited trim adds many more tech and luxury amenities like leather upholstery.

The Ford Explorer MSRP ranges from $33,205 for the base model, all the way up to $53,850 for the ST trim, before any additional options. Many shoppers will find the mid-range Limited configuration to balance both price ($46,250 MSRP) and standard equipment.

People who viewed the 2021 Ford Explorer also considered

The Starting Market Average is a proprietary mathematical calculation based on actual recent transactions. It provides a statistically accurate understanding of what other buyers are paying for the least expensive configuration of this vehicle. Adjustments to the calculation beyond make, model, and trim are normalized based on detailed, anonymized transaction information. This accounts for the fact that most or all recently-sold vehicles included different option combinations. The data underlying the Starting Market Average calculation are filtered for extreme outliers and subjected to a weighted averaging process that considers factors such as the recency of transactions and the timing of data lags. In certain instances, the calculated result is adjusted to take account of abrupt changes in the market that may not yet be fully reflected by recent transaction prices. In all cases where the Starting Market Average is shown there is sufficient sample size and transaction detail to be statistically reliable.