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A blue 2021 Ford Explorer is parked in front of a lake.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Offers the Perfect Balance Between Commuting and Adventuring

Ford remains one of America’s most popular brands, its roots going all the way back to 1896. Like many early vehicle brands, Ford began in a backyard far before it ever reached the factory. Since the historic Model T’s debut in 1908, Ford has come a long way, making cars, trucks, SUVs, and even hybrids. Ford’s most known SUV is the Explorer, which originally hit the market in 1990 when the SUV world really picked up speed. Let’s take a walk through the history of the Ford Explorer to see how the Explorer has improved over time into becoming the 2021 Ford Explorer.

A Little Ford Explorer History

Most SUVs are based on similar truck models, and the original Explorer is no different. Debuting in 1991, this model uses the same base as a Ford Ranger, giving it that Ford truck-like appeal. In addition to its looks, the Explorer also maintains the power of a Ranger. The Explorer started off strong because it was built on an already excellent platform.

It even started to inspire other similar Ford models. As a result, in 2001, the Explorer Sport Trac arrived. While the Explorer SUV was originally based off of a truck, the Explorer Sport Trac reversed the transition. The Sport Trac is a truck that’s based on the Explorer SUV. Confused yet? This little truck took on the aesthetic appeal of the second-generation Ford Explorer but in truck form.

By the Explorer’s third generation, its design underwent a huge change. The 2002 to 2005 Ford Explorer models strayed away from the Ranger base and took on a much larger design. The third generation models could then seat up to 7 passengers, while the fourth generation kept mostly the same exterior appeal but with added safety and tech features.

The fifth generation showed up in 2016 with a much more luxurious, sporty appeal. Now the sixth generation is where we currently stand, covering 2020 models and up. These new models are designed even more specifically for off-roading and towing, yet they can be customized to be nothing more than casual commuters if necessary. Overall, the Explorer has always had what it takes in terms of power, but its aesthetic appeal only improves over time.

The interior of a 2021 Ford Explorer shows a steering wheel and infotainment screen.

The 2021 Ford Explorer: What Engine Options Do I Have?

The 2021 Ford Explorer comes in six different trims. The lowest three trims come with a standard turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but the highest trims include standard 3.0-liter V6 engines. Let’s take a look at each engine and what it entails.

The 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, impressively enough, produces 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Rather than expected front-wheel drive, these models come with rear-wheel drive to help improve off-roading. You can also opt for all-wheel drive if you prefer. The four-cylinder rear-wheel drive model can get up to 28 miles per gallon on the highway, with 21 miles per gallon in the city. The 3.0-liter V6 produces 365 horsepower with 380 pound-feet of torque. Despite its power, the all-wheel drive model still gets up to 18 miles per gallon city and 24 miles per gallon highway, with the capability to tow up to 5,600 pounds when properly equipped.

Exterior Matters

The 2021 Ford Explorer has greatly improved its looks over the years. While the past few generations are definitely appealing, the sixth-generation Explorer takes aesthetics to a whole new level. The lowest available trim comes with a liftgate spoiler, along with several door handle color options, including Iconic Silver, Agate Black, Oxford White, and Carbonized Gray. These are available no matter what exterior color you choose. However, the exterior customization options improve with each trim level. The XLT trim is next up from the base, and it includes chrome bodyside accents and several additional color options.

As you climb the 2021 Explorer trim levels, you’ll get options for roof rack rails, automatic headlights, quad chrome exhaust tips, rain-sensing wipers, and much more. You’ll get up to 7 different exterior color options with the 2021 Ford Explorer, including two shades of blue, red, and available neutral colors. It also comes with several package options that up the Explorer’s customization, including the ST Street Pack for the ST trim and the XLT’s Sport Appearance package. If you really want to stand out, Ford offers their very own parts website that’ll let you upgrade your 2021 Ford Explorer’s aesthetic to your heart’s content.

What Does the 2021 Explorer’s Safety Look Like?

If you’re going to purchase a brand new vehicle, your safety features better be impressive, right? When you choose a new Ford model, you can rest assured that there’s no extra payment for safety. Even the base models come with multiple standard driver assist features. For example, the base 2021 Ford Explorer comes with the Lane-Keeping System, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High-Beam Headlamps, and a Rear View Camera.

In addition to these safety features, the 2021 Ford Explorer also includes side impact beams, and it has an overall 5-star crash test safety rating. Despite being a high-profile vehicle, it still scores a 4 out of 5 on its rollover rating and a 5/5 in every other category.

Higher trims really step up the safety game by including front, left, and right cameras, park assist, and terrain management system that helps keep you safer on the road, even in slippery or snowing conditions. Overall though, Ford keeps the majority of safety features as standard on this model, ensuring that you’re safe on the road no matter how much or little you spend.

A red 2021 Ford Explorer is driving over a bridge.

Can I Go Off-Roading in the 2021 Ford Explorer?

Thanks to all the hype surrounding the new Ford Bronco, off-roading is fresh on the mind right now. Since you’re interested in purchasing an SUV, you’re probably wondering if the Explorer can off-road like its Bronco cousin. The simple answer is, yes, it can!

While it’s not designed specifically for heading off the pavement like the Bronco or the Jeep Wrangler, it is definitely more than capable of doing so. This is especially true for higher trims that include the terrain management system and also if you add on off-roading accessories like skid plates and winches. The rear-wheel drive system makes off-roading easier than previous front-wheel drive Explorers, but if you really want to take it off the pavement, opt for the all-wheel drive 2021 Ford Explorer. This model is great if you like the occasional off-roading adventure, but your main driving time is spent on the blacktop.

Three Reasons Why the 2021 Ford Explorer Is Your Next New SUV Model

The Ford Explorer carries a long history of capability, and the 2021 Ford Explorer model is no exception. However, this new model takes it a notch further by appearing much more aesthetically appealing and by including abundant standard safety features to ensure your safety both on and off-road.

First, this model is tow-capable and ready to hit the dirt roads. Second, it comes with several customization options and a much more modern, sporty design. And third, you get an extra set of eyes, even when you’re driving alone, thanks to Ford’s generous safety suite.

There are tons of SUVs out there, most falling somewhere between family commuters and off-roading prowesses. However, the 2021 Ford Explorer somehow manages to fall right on the centerline between the two. If you had any doubts about the new Explorer before, we hope we’ve eased your mind with these specs and facts. Go test drive a 2021 Ford Explorer today and really experience what we’ve described here. You won’t regret it.