2021 Ford Explorer Reviews

2021 Explorer New Car Test Drive

The following review is for a 2020 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.


The three-row 2020 Ford Explorer SUV has been redesigned, with seating for six or seven passengers and for the first time, with a hybrid model. 

Except for a few familiar design cues, nearly everything has changed. As a result, the 2020 Explorer forges ahead of its predecessor in practically every way. Attractively styled, encompassing a well-appointed interior, the 2020 Explorer is built on a fresh rear-wheel-drive platform. Weight-saving measures have slashed some 200 pounds. Most versions get a new generation of turbo-4 and V-6 engines, coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission. 

Base (Explorer), XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, Platinum, and sporty ST trim levels are offered. In base and lower-trim Explorers, a 2.3-liter turbo-4 engine makes 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. 

ST models step up to high-output V-6 power, in the form of a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter that generates 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet. A firmer-tuned suspension is installed. So is a system that sends simulated engine sounds into the cabin. Platinum models get a 365-hp variant of the 3.0-liter. 

The Limited Hybrid uses a non-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 tied to an electric motor and battery pack, producing 318 combined horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque in all. 

Rear-drive is standard. Four -wheel drive is an option for most models. 

All models include selectable drive modes: Normal, Sport, Trail, Slippery, Tow/Haul, and Eco. Snow and Sand modes are added to four-wheel-drive versions. 

The NHTSA has not yet crash-tested the 2020 Explorer. The IIHS gave the Explorer “Good” ratings in each test, including the small-overlap collision. That organization named the SUV a Top Safety Pick, but only if equipped with specific headlights (on Titanium trim). 

All Explorers are equipped with a set of active-safety features, including blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts, forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and active lane control. Adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and speed-sign recognition come in an option package. 


Prices include $1,245 destination charge. 

The base Explorer ($34,010 with rear-drive, $36,010 with four-wheel drive) comes with cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-speaker audio, paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, LED headlights, and an 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

The XLT ($37,920 with RWD, $39,920 with 4WD) adds heated mirrors, power front seats, second-row captain's chairs, keyless ignition, and rear steps. 

The Limited ($49,375 with RWD, $51,375 with 4WD) includes leather upholstery, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, a front camera system, Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker audio, front/rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control. The Limited Hybrid ($53,525 with RWD, $55,720 with 4WD) substitutes a gasoline/electric powertrain. 

The Platinum ($59,495) comes only with four-wheel drive and includes the 365-hp V-6, active parking assist, twin-panel moonroof, and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. 

The sporty ST ($55,985) comes only with four-wheel drive and adds a stiffer sport-tuned suspension, heated/cooled front seats, a 110-volt AC outlet, adaptive cruise control, 20-inch wheels, parking assist, and blacked-out trim. Engine sounds are piped into the cabin. 

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