2021 Ford Explorer – First refresh of the 6th Generation
The 6th generation Ford Explorer launched in 2019 with the first new Explorer model being the 2020 edition. We expect the 2021 Ford Explorer to be a fine tuned version of 2020 Ford Explorer. Buyers will probably not have to cope with the startup issues of the new generation of Explorer SUV’s since 6th generation cars will have been rolling out of the factory for a while.
A new 2020 model was announced in January 2019, ahead of expectations. Expect a full preview and communication about the 2021 Ford Explorer in the first quarter of 2020. The new Ford Explorer does not seem to be a winner in sales figures for now as the number of explorers leaving the stores dropped by more than 20% in the second quarter of 2019.
We created a short video with footage from the latest edition so you can get a taste of what the new model year might bring. We will update this page once new information about the 2021 Ford Explorer becomes available.
6th Generation Takeaways
The new Explorer generation shares it’s platform (CD6) with the Lincoln Aviator. The 2021 Ford Explorer is offered in a rear-wheel drive standard version, something we find a strange proposition here at carfacta. Luckily there is a high performance model, the Explorer XT. Explorer engines start at a beefy 300HP, a 10 speed automatic transmission and the obligatory all-wheel drive option.
The beast can tow up to 2404 kg. With competitors maxing out at 15% less it is already an advantage. A Turbo charges 3.0L eco-boost engine is also available offering an additional 65 horses.
The XT edition ups the amount of power to 400hp. The 2021 Model will only offer a few minor updates and have the same engine options.
Ford is also throwing in a Hybrid option, the Explorer Hybrid, offering a 3.3L V6 ecoboost engine for a combined powerhouse of 318hp. A full tank will drive you 500 miles. Due to European emission legislation Ford will offer more advanced hybrid option with a 350 hp 3L v6 engine and 75Kw Electric motor, with a combined output of 450hp.
This European hybrid option will only consume 3.4 l/100 km, an exceptional fuel economy. We would love to see that hybrid option here in the US. In theory it will be more powerful than the 2021 Ford Explorer XT.
The power will come in handy to tow haul. We expect great towing capacity.
But even with the US engine models the MPG figures are in line with lower powered competitor options like the Subaru Ascent and Mazda CX-9. We expect the Explorer ST to return. The 2020 model debuted a twin turbocharged v6 with 400 horsepower.
We expect the Explorer to have a 10-speed automatic transmission across the range of trims and engine options. Adaptive cruise control is to be expected, let’s hope it is an advanced version.
2021 Ford Explorer Exterior
The 6th generation did bring a radical break with the past generation Ford Explorer. It looks less boxy and, more polished. We do not expect much change for the 2021 Ford Explorers since Ford only seems to facelift its cars every 24 to 36 months. The car looks more dynamic, sporty, the front hood has been lowered and a longer wheelbase extended the interior. We hope to see the Explorer Platinum appear in the lineup again because that was by far our favorite.
2021 Ford Explorer Interior
The 6th generation explorer looks more crispy than it’s predecessors. It is nice to the eye but the plastics used in the 2021 Ford Explorer do not scream premium. KIA and Hyundai competitors seem to have a more quality look, even in their lower trims.
The new dashboard and windscreen offer great visibility for parking the beast. When driving the car you seem to sit quite low, it does not feel like you are driving an SUV.
The car offers up to 3 rows of passenger seating, with great accessibility and headspace for the last 3 rows. We do feel this space is less comfortable than most competitors.
The dashboard is equipped with a 8 inch horizontally aligned touch screen. The sync3 operation system is very user friendly. There is a conveniently arranged smartphone holder. For higher trims we expect to see 10.1-inch vertical touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital cockpit screen. They should also sport a bang olufsen sound system upgrade for the audiophiles.
We miss our Apple carplay and android auto. There is an 10 inch option available, but it does not seem to be an improvement over the 8 inch screen. We hope Ford will work on improving this. An all digital instrument panel will give the car a more modern look.
Ford cars tend to be on average less comfortable than other car brands. We do at least expect heated and cooled front row seats on all models except the base model.
2021 Ford Explorer Safety features
We love the fact that every trim of the 2021 Ford Explorer has automatic emergency breaking, lane-keeping assist and blind spot warning. Great safety features to keep this beast on the road.
Pedestrian detection is also a to be expected safety option combined with automatic emergency braking.
2021 Ford Explorer Price and Release Date
The car will probably be released and available in the second half of 2020. At the time of writing pricing will be around a base price of $34000 for a well equipped base model to $60000 for the premium Platinum edition.
We like the price for the base model, it offers a lot of bang for your buck, however the Platinum is way off. You will get more when buying top of the line and fully equipped Kia Telluride or a Honda Pilot Elite. Thank us later for saving $10000 for going the KIA or Honda Route.(4.5 / 5)
Our Own Personal Review
I drove different model year of Ford Explorers in the past. The comfortable ride and the fact this had become my go to choice when renting a car made me experience many model years of the Ford Explorer. Having driven the cars in the past 10 years, in different conditions made me love this car.
I hope this little personal story can illustrate how cars are not only about specifications.
First the space: inside and the trunk offer enough space to take a small family on a road trip: we easily fit four suitcases, at least five bags, 2 kids and a grand parent for a trip across West Coast of the US. The Explorer experienced all kinds of conditions with no problem. It was also sturdy enough to drive unpaved roads, something we did not dare to with my wife’s Ford Fusion.
We abused the SUV for more than 3000 miles in 3 weeks. From more chilly weather in Los Angeles to a scorching Death Valley on the stretch to Las Vegas, and then even through the snow in Arizona and the Grand Canyon. It was early spring… we had not expected it in that kind of weather. The Ford Explorer has since then been a safe and reliable option.
From being Rescued to helping Rescue
But our overconfidence with the Explorer turned against us during a trip in Iceland. Since Iceland is a very hostile environment, with volcanoes, difficult road conditions and tricky weather, we decided our luck again and rented an Explorer. The car came full of warning and dangers of drivings on Icelandic roads.
One morning we decided to drive to one the the underground caves (the John Snow cave) from a scene from Game Of Thrones. For those interested: Grjótagjá . I will also add a picture:
The cave was a little underwhelming so we decided to drive to a nearby volcanic structure. There were a lot of tourists in normal cars turning around and not continuing or continuing on foot.
Trust in the Explorer
Not that deep, but we could not be sure how deep the stream of water under the ice would be. Since the car was with its skids on the ice and the wheels on in the water hitting the gas was no avail.
We did continue… trusting the Ford Explorer. But then disaster struck. The Explorer fell with the wheels through the an icepatch that was only about an inch thick. Underneath the ice there was water flowing.
Good this is an all wheel drive, we’ll be out in no time. We started to panic a little but we figured a plan on how to get the car out. We first tried to dig out the ice around the car in the hope the car would hit the bed of the stream and get traction.
It was an impossible task to dig away the ice with our hands. Gloves got wet and ice cold. We managed to get one wheel on the bed of the stream. But alas the car was still stuck.
We then tried to fill the holed in the ice with sand and rocks we could find nearby. It did not help. Meanwhile some of the ‘smarter’ persons who left their cars at the entrance of the park started to help and give a hand. Even more experienced AWD drivers could not get the car out.
I finally got out of the car and called the Icelandic emergency road service. It would take them a while to get there and cost about 1000 USD because it was off-road. We continued trying to get out the car ourselves.
But we were in luck, an Icelandic man with a customized Ford F-150 drove by and offered to pull us out. The F-150 pulled 3 times and we were out. I offered the Icelandic man a tip for the helping tow but he would refuse it. It saved us about 1000$. Thank you again!
Once we drove out the park we met the Road Side assistance. I expected them that they would ask us to pay up but since we got out ourselves it was all fine.
We spent the rest of the day in a hot pool. Warming our hands and contemplating about what had happened. We were about 50 miles away from our hotel. Staff of the hot pool suddenly asked everyone to leave. Winter was coming. Literally. A snow storm was on its way. It would probably close the roads.
On the road back to the hotel we did indeed encounter a snow storm. We were scared that we would get snowed in and would have to pass a cold night in the Explorer. But we managed to plow though the snow and reach our hotel. Thank you Ford Explored.
To The Rescue
Later that year I had an opportunity to work at a music festival in the Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. It was on the US edition of the Belgian world famous Tomorrowland Festival. Tomorrowworld (named that way because of a naming rights dispute with Disney) was my home for 3 weeks.
On the build up days I had a 45 minute morning and evening drive to my hotel in Atlanta. The Explorer offered me a cocoon where I could relax, to the soothing tune of the direction indicator on Browns Lake Road.
It matched the beat of some Justin Bieber song. The festival ended with waterlogged fields. On the last days I managed to make a few stuck festivalgoers happy by bringing them back to Atlanta. It was not only my savior.
All considered above events made me grow some kind of fondness for the Ford Explorer. What is your Ford Explorer story?