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2021 Ford Explorer

2021 Ford Explorer

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$32,675 — $54,350 MSRP
61
Photos
SUV
6-7 Seats
20-25 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 6 trims

Overview

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2021 Ford Explorer exterior side view

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2021 Ford Explorer Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

By Jennifer Geiger

Most significant changes: Equipment shuffling throughout the trims

Price change: Price changes fluctuate depending on trim level, but they are all down versus the 2020 Explorer; base prices are down slightly, but the top (Platinum) trim’s price decreases significantly, for example.

On sale: Now

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? 2021, as prices decrease, unless you find a steeply discounted 2020.

Ford redesigned its Explorer SUV for 2020, and the family hauler now rides a rear-wheel-drive platform (all-wheel drive is optional) instead of the front-drive platforms ubiquitous in this class. For 2021, the three-row SUV gets some minor changes, most notably equipment and packaging tweaks, along with lower prices.

Related: 2020 Ford Explorer: Everything You Need to Know

For 2021, the Explorer’s entry price decreases to $33,470 (all prices include destination) in base RWD trim, down from last year’s $34,010 starting price. In fact, prices decrease throughout the trim lineup. Most significant is the price change for the top trim, called the Platinum. The 2020 Explorer Platinum ran $59,495, which drops to $55,725 for 2021. Compare the model years here.

A new XLT Sport Appearance Package, available with the XLT trim, adds exterior styling elements such as 20-inch Carbonized Gray-painted wheels with matching gray bars and a mesh grille insert, along with extra bodyside cladding, dual exhaust tips and other badges. Interior additions include diamond instrument panel appliques, slate ...

Most significant changes: Equipment shuffling throughout the trims

Price change: Price changes fluctuate depending on trim level, but they are all down versus the 2020 Explorer; base prices are down slightly, but the top (Platinum) trim’s price decreases significantly, for example. 

On sale: Now

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? 2021, as prices decrease, unless you find a steeply discounted 2020. 

Ford redesigned its Explorer SUV for 2020, and the family hauler now rides a rear-wheel-drive platform (all-wheel drive is optional) instead of the front-drive platforms ubiquitous in this class. For 2021, the three-row SUV gets some minor changes, most notably equipment and packaging tweaks, along with lower prices. 

Related: 2020 Ford Explorer: Everything You Need to Know

For 2021, the Explorer’s entry price decreases to $33,470 (all prices include destination) in base RWD trim, down from last year’s $34,010 starting price. In fact, prices decrease throughout the trim lineup. Most significant is the price change for the top trim, called the Platinum. The 2020 Explorer Platinum ran $59,495, which drops to $55,725 for 2021. Compare the model years here.

A new XLT Sport Appearance Package, available with the XLT trim, adds exterior styling elements such as 20-inch Carbonized Gray-painted wheels with matching gray bars and a mesh grille insert, along with extra bodyside cladding, dual exhaust tips and other badges. Interior additions include diamond instrument panel appliques, slate seats with contrast stitching in all rows and specific door panel inserts.

Other changes to the 2021 lineup are more minor. The XLT trim gets standard heated front seats. Some exterior changes that affect all trims include more wheel designs, finishes and sizes (from 18 to 21 inches), and a host of new exterior paint colors: Atlas Blue, Iconic Silver, Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Rich Copper Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Silver Spruce and Star White Metallic Tri-Coat. 

Most of the SUV carries over unchanged into model-year 2021, including its powertrains. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 300 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque, and it’s paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive; four-wheel drive is optional. The uplevel engine is a 365-hp, turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 that makes 380 pounds-feet of torque; all-wheel drive is standard. The Explorer Hybrid, meanwhile, uses a 3.3-liter V-6 engine and 35-kilowatt electric motor that produce 318 combined hp and 322 pounds-feet of torque. 

In Cars.com’s 2020 Three-Row SUV Challenge, the 2020 Ford Explorer finished fourth place out of seven contenders. Judges were impressed by the SUV’s handling and well-behaved powertrain, but it lost points for interior space, comfort and value.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.7
46 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Great suv with good safety features

by Diane from Moultrie on May 11, 2021

I love my new Explorer XLT and Appreciate Trevor explaining all the new technology - Everyone was so nice and helpful - I appreciate all the help and would definitely recommend Cook County Ford - ... Read full review

(5.0)

Great car.. beautiful inside and out.

by Bjdye3 from Fort Wayne on May 11, 2021

Great space inside the car. Great features. Easy and fun to drive. Everything inside and out seems so well made. I planning on driving this explorer for many years.. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2021 Ford Explorer currently has 1 recall


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2021 Ford Explorer Base

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall
5 Star
Overall Front
5 Star
Overall Side
5 Star
Overall Rollover Rating
4 Star
Driver's
5 Star
Passenger's
5 Star
Side Barrier
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
Side Pole
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
5 Star
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Ford

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Gold Certified: Ford models up to 6 years old with less than 80,000 miles Blue Certified: Fords and many non-Ford vehicles up to 10 years old with less than 120,000 miles Disclaimer: See your dealer for warranty coverage details.

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    Gold Certified: 12-Month/12,000-Mile (whichever comes first) Comprehensive Limited Warranty Blue Certified: 90-Day/4,000-Mile (whichever comes first) Comprehensive Limited Warranty Disclaimer: See your dealer for warranty coverage details.

  • Powertrain

    Gold Certified: 7-Year/100,000-Mile (whichever comes first) Powertrain Limited Warranty Blue Certified: Available Disclaimer: See your dealer for warranty coverage details.

  • Dealer Certification Required

    Gold Certified 172-point inspection Blue Certified 139-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Gold Certified: Yes (24/7 for 7 years) Blue Certified: Yes (24/7 for 90 days)

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2021 Explorer Stories

See all 2021 Ford Explorer articles

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Explorer received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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