Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2025 Ford Explorer ST is shown from the side while parked.

The 2025 Ford Explorer May Not Be Exciting, but It Delivers

The refreshed 2025 Ford Explorer is here, and it’s not particularly exciting––but that’s not a bad thing. Even though the Explorer has now gone untouched for five years, that hasn’t slowed it down. Last year, Ford sold no fewer than 186,799 Explorers, making it the brand’s second best-selling vehicle after the juggernaut that is the F-Series. So when Ford decided to refresh the Explorer for the 2025 model year, the engineers were more focused on making the small improvements needed to keep it up to date than implementing any substantial changes. If you liked the 2024 Explorer, then the odds are you’ll like the 2025 Explorer just as much and maybe even a little more.

Still a Segment Leader…but a Few Options Are Missing

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. The 2025 Ford Explorer is still a capable three-row SUV that stands out for offering more capability than nearly any other option in the segment. It still comes standard with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine and offers a surprisingly potent 3.0L EcoBoost, producing 400 hp on its top trims. Combined with its rear-wheel drive platform, that gives it a max tow rating of 5,600 lbs and some impressive acceleration and handling––especially if you opt for the performance-oriented ST trim. Just about the only real competition in the mass-market segment is the Jeep Grand Cherokee L and the Dodge Durango, both of which rely on much thirstier V8 engines for similar performance.

A blue 2025 Ford Explorer ST is shown from the rear at an angle.

However, the Explorer’s even more efficient 3.3L V6 hybrid option is still missing from the civilian lineup after Explorer Hybrid production was diverted last year to satisfy demand by law enforcement agencies for the Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid. That is a somewhat disappointing choice by Ford, especially since the brand has promised to offer more hybrid options for customers who are not ready to switch to a fully electric vehicle. The off-road-ready Explorer Timberline, which was introduced to much fanfare for the 2021 model year, is also nowhere to be seen, although Ford promises that it has an even more off-road capable version in the works. Still, if you were hoping to take to the trails, you may want to look elsewhere this year––perhaps at the new 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser.

The Ford Digital Experience

While the exterior of the 2025 Ford Explorer has received its share of aesthetic updates, including unique grille and wheel options for all four trims, most of the important changes are found in the cabin. Like most new vehicles these days, the largest update consists of adding bigger screens for the infotainment and driver displays. The dashboard is now dominated by a horizontal 13.2-inch touchscreen, and there is a 12.3-inch display behind the steering wheel. That’s still fairly restrained compared to the latest options from GM with its slightly ridiculous 17.7-inch displays, but it is still more than enough to access any infotainment functions.

The new screens also come with the brand-new “Ford Digital Experience,” which is intended to be a more personalized and customizable take on in-vehicle infotainment. It offers Vivaldi and Google Chrome for surfing the web, has YouTube and Amazon Prime Video, and even offers video games like Asphalt Nitro 2 if you happen to want to drive a virtual car while sitting in your actual car. The good news is that Ford kept Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can just connect your phone and skip the rest of the “Digital Experience” if you desire––again, looking at you GM.

The blue-lit interior of a 2025 Ford Explorer Platinum is shown from above the center console.

In terms of actual driving technology, the 2025 Ford Explorer makes the full Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite standard equipment across the board. Higher trims also come with BlueCruise hands-free driving technology, and you get a complimentary 90-day trial of this feature if you are curious but unsure about having your car drive itself. If you like it, you can then choose a monthly or annual subscription to the service. You can identify models with the BlueCruise hardware by looking for the driver-facing IR camera mounted on top of the steering column.

Still a Solid Pick

Three-row SUVs are the most exciting automotive segment, and after 24 years on the market, the Explorer is a known quantity to shoppers. Ford understands this and didn’t try to do anything crazy for the 2025 update. It focused on making the small quality-of-life changes that are necessary to keep a popular model selling well, and it looks like it succeeded. While the jury is still out on the new Ford Digital Experience, just about everyone can agree that improved tech and a wider range of standard features are a good thing. If Ford brings back the Timberline and Hybrid options for 2026, then the Explorer will be well-positioned to keep its place in the Ford lineup and in the three-row market as a whole.