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A red 2023 Ford Explorer ST is shown from the side while driving over a bridge.

2023 Ford Explorer: Packages, Colors, and Customization — What’s Right For You?

The 2023 Ford Explorer arrives on the scene with a ton of different options. If you’re looking for a true crossover SUV from Ford with third-row seating, lots of interior amenities, and the scalability to go from a daily driver to a luxury SUV, then the Explorer is the way to go. But where do you start? And what’s the right kind of setup for you?

Well, here at CarBuyerLabs, we have some great information available for you to peruse comparisons, packages, and vehicle details that may help you make a more informed purchase when starting the SUV shopping process. When it comes to the 2023 Ford Explorer, there is a lot to choose from—from eight different trims, multiple packages, and some attractive colors to the various configurations, equipment groups, and ways to get the most out of the Explorer. Hopefully, we’ll provide all the information you need to make the purchase that best suits your needs.

Eye-Catching Colors

Shopping for a vehicle usually sees the top priorities centered around important aspects like powertrain, fuel economy, and interior amenities. But let’s not forget that sometimes a really important part of buying a vehicle is how it looks, and this boils down to exterior accessories and color. The 2023 Ford Explorer is available in nine colors, four of which are premium colors. The standard colors are Atlas Blue Metallic, Agate Black, Carbonized Gray, Forged Green, Iconic Silver, Stone Blue, Rapid Red Metallic, Star White Metallic, and Jewel Red Metallic, with premium variants available from the latter four. The premiums will run you close to $500 depending on the dealer from whom you purchase your Explorer.

Keep in mind that not all premium colors are available for all trims. The XL trim, for instance, doesn’t have access to any premium colors. The XLT has access to the most, while the ST-Line, Limited, ST, Platinum, and King Ranch have only certain colors available. The Timberline is also limited to mostly neutral and dark colors.

So you should definitely keep in mind that depending on what kind of color you want your Ford Explorer in will also be determined by the trim. If you want the more exotic premium colors, you’ll need to look at the XLT, Limited, Platinum, or King Ranch. If color isn’t a priority to you and you just want something functional, all trims are available with the basic colors, like black and silver.

A red 2023 Ford Explorer ST is shown from the front at an angle.

Appearance & Equipment Packages

The 2023 Ford Explorer is available in a number of packages depending on the model you go with. On the utility front, you have the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package, with Adaptive Cruise Control and Evasive Steering Assist, as well as the Cargo Management Package and Class IV Trailer Tow Package. When it comes to technology and appearance packages, you have three different trim-specific appearance packages and five different technology packages. This is in addition to six different Equipment Group packages, which can also add some appearance and performance functionality to different Explorer trims.

The packages can add some flair to the Explorer or add some additional appeal to the overall vehicle. However, do you really need the packages? Well, it depends on what you want from your Explorer. The appearance packages, for instance, include specialized wheels, seat designs, special inserts, accents, and applique panels. You can get the appearance packages for the XLT with the XLT Appearance Package, the ST Appearance Package, or the ST Street Package.

Packages like the XLT Technology Package add additional camera functions, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and features like the wireless charging pad, parking sensors, and the universal garage door opener. You get similar features in the Timberline Technology Package, which adds a 110-volt AC power outlet and third-row PowerFold seats to the feature list from the XLT Technology Package.

Packages for the ST are themed more around looks and performance, with specialized wheels, high-performance brakes, and specially painted brake calipers available in the ST Appearance and ST Street packages. If you want to spruce up your Ford Explorer, these packages typically range between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on what you’re looking to get. It is possible to mix and match some packages, but not every package is available for every trim. So if you’re looking for a specific kind of Explorer that has a specific kind of performance and looks, keep in mind that you’re going to want to base your package customization around the trim that you feel best suits you, as opposed to trying to build a trim around certain package options.

Customizing Options

Beyond the packages and Equipment Groups, which are available for different trim selections of the Explorer, there are optional features you can add separately from the packages themselves. For instance, there are different wheels you can select for different trims; if you want the largest and fanciest wheels available for the Explorer, such as the 21-inch bright machined-face aluminum nickel-painted pocket wheels, you can only get those for the Platinum trim. There are some basic 21-inch aluminum wheels available for the ST and ST-Line trims, but they won’t have nickel-painted pockets, so that’s a loss for pocket lovers.

There is also a 20-inch ten-spoke aluminum wheel design with a King Ranch cap that is available only for the King Ranch trim. But there are other optional 20-inch ten-spoke aluminum wheel designs available, including one for the Limited trim, 20-inch carbonized gray-painted ten-spoke wheels, and 20-inch premium painted aluminum wheels for the XLT trim. The tires are also preset for each trim, being all-season BSW tires appropriate to the wheel size.

If you want to take advantage of features like roof rail crossbars, glossy mirror caps, the moonroof, or power-folding mirrors, you will only have those options from the XLT and higher trims. So if you were going to buy a 2023 Ford Explorer but wanted to go the cheapest route with the option of customizing or upgrading the model, the base model doesn’t give you that option. You would have to go with the next trim up in the form of the XLT.

Now if you were interested in more utilitarian customization features, such as the second-row captain chairs and PowerFold seats for the third row, you only have access to these with the Limited trim and higher. If those aren’t the most important features for you, you can still make do with the basic split-bench in the second and third rows for the base Explorer, the XLT, and the ST-Line.

A blue 2023 Ford Explorer ST is shown from the front.

Available Accessories

The good part about the 2023 Ford Explorer’s accessories and optional add-ons is that all are available across the entire trim line. This means that whether you go with the base entry-level Explorer or the King Ranch trim, you have access to all sorts of accessories, extending from camping equipment and dash cams to tow hitches, seat covers, and pet harnesses.

The highlight of the 2023 Explorer is that, regardless of the trim level you begin with, you can access the accessories for any of the available trims and have them bundled into your purchase right from the get-go. This means that if you’re shopping on a budget and opt for the entry-level Explorer, you can still make use of the pet kennel in case you have pets that you travel with often. If you do a lot of off-roading and travel through the wilderness, the changing room tent and detachable sleeping SUV tent might really come in handy. You can also outfit any of the trims with security systems, keyless entry (if it’s not already included in the standard trim package), and extended area lighting.

So there are a lot of options available if you are planning on outfitting the Explorer for specific travel purposes, and the wide range of options help give prospective SUV owners looking for a quality crossover plenty to take advantage of during the shopping process. Once again, it would be beneficial to start with the trim that has all the basic features you’re looking for and then swap around or add the accessories and packages that appeal most to you.