La Oferta

August 15, 2022

2021 Ford Explorer KIng

The 2021 Ford Explorer is adding a King Ranch model to its lineup. The luxurious package, named for an actual ranch in Texas, has been offered on Ford’s F-series trucks for 20 years as well as on the Expedition full-size SUV. The Explorer could see an off-road-focused model called Timberline soon as well.

The King Ranch’s seats and center console are wrapped in Mahogany leather with the Running W logos, and the dash is trimmed with sapele wood. The steering wheel is also wrapped in leather with a wood insert and a King Ranch logo. Ford’s premium technology package is available, adding massaging front seats, a 10.1-inch vertically oriented touchscreen (an 8.0-inch screen is standard), and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

The King Ranch’s seats and center console are wrapped in Mahogany leather with the Running W logos, and the dash is trimmed with sapele wood. The steering wheel is also wrapped in leather with a wood insert and a King Ranch logo. Ford’s premium technology package is available, adding massaging front seats, a 10.1-inch vertically oriented touchscreen (an 8.0-inch screen is standard), and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Base, XLT, and Limited trims come with a 300-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, and it motivates the Explorer with authority. The lead-foot drivers among us will prefer either the Platinum model, with its 365-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, or the sporty Explorer ST, which uses a 400-hp version of the same engine.

A hybrid joined the Explorer lineup for 2020. It pairs a 3.3-liter V-6 engine with an electric motor for a combined output of 318 horsepower.

When properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 5600 pounds. The Explorer rides on an all-new rear-wheel-drive platform, but all-wheel drive is still optional.

A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board. Ride and handling are agreeable and composed but far from entertaining; the Explorer ST is far more athletic, and its extra power and stiffer suspension make it a real performance SUV.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Due to its myriad powertrain and drivetrain combinations, the 2021 Explorer has varying EPA fuel-economy ratings. The rear-drive hybrid model is rated as the thriftiest overall, with estimates of up to 27 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Adding all-wheel drive reduces the hybrid’s ratings by 3 and 4 mpg, respectively.

We tested one on our 200-mile highway route, where it managed only 24 mpg. Comparatively, the 400-hp Explorer ST earned 25 mpg in our testing, which beat its EPA rating by 1. We also tested the four-cylinder Explorer with all-wheel drive.

The government estimates that version will earn 20 mpg city and 27 highway; we saw 28 mpg.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

While the interior design may border on uninspired, the Explorer’s cabin is functional and comfortable—at least for those in the first two rows. Getting into the standard third row is now easier thanks to a new mechanism that moves the second-row seat out of the way at the touch of a button. Once back there, however, older kids and adults will find that the seat is too close to the floor to be comfortable.

Rivals such as the Chevy Traverse and the Volkswagen Atlas provide more comfort in the third row. We managed to fit four carry-on suitcases behind the Ford’s third row, and we fit a total of 31 bags with both back rows folded flat.

Infotainment and Connectivity

An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment is standard and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The system is both attractive and responsive but not as intuitive as we’d like.

A rotatory controller would help in that regard. To get the optional 10.1-inch vertically oriented screen, you’ll need to upgrade to either the Platinum or ST. Still, every model is available with voice-activated navigation as well as a rear-seat entertainment system. Apart from the base Explorer, a 12-speaker B&O audio system comes standard.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The 2021 Explorer received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) but missed out on a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) due to a merely Acceptable score in the small-overlap front crash test.

Ford outfits every Explorer with a host of standard driver-assistance technology and offers upgrades such as self-parking assist. Key safety features include:

Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking

Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross-traffic alert

Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Ford provides wholly average limited and powertrain warranties that align with most competitors’ plans. However, the company doesn’t provide the complimentary maintenance that Toyota and Chevy do.

Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles

No complimentary scheduled maintenance