Recently, the MotorTrend team published their list of the 10 Least Boring Mainstream SUVs You Can Buy. Anyone who knows their SUVs would be very surprised to see the regular Ford Explorer on that list. But the 2021 Ford Explorer ST did, in fact, make the MotorTrend list.
How you might ask? What changed about the 2021 Ford Explorer ST models to make them less boring and more fun to drive? We have all the details.
A new performance SUV model
The team at MotorTrend frames the list by saying the SUVs on it are fun, not super-fast or super-expensive. Sounds good, right?
In 2021, Ford decided to step into the three-row performance SUV arena with the unlikeliest of candidates – the Ford Explorer. Its Explorer ST models got more power, not more space. With a 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine that gets 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, ST models just got a lot more powerful and interesting.
And they couldn’t just give it more power and not announce it on the outside. The ST models feature a new monochromatic exterior look according to MotorTrend with aggressive black accents to announce its new power and attitude. The best part? Ford slashed prices this year making the entire lineup including the ST models more tempting and affordable in 2021.
Taking it to the next level
For those shopping for a new midsize three-row SUV, there’s a lot to choose from. When it comes to the Ford Explorer, many think it’s a solid, safe choice. Power and performance don’t come immediately to mind when you consider the explorer. But it does offer a composed ride with good handling, lots of cargo and passenger space, and lots of current features.
It also got a rigid sport-tuned suspension, four-wheel drive, and new sports seats. You also get reverse brake assist with sensors at the back of the SUV to perpetually monitor obstacles when you’re reversing. The system applies the brakes for you if needed to avoid a collision. The automated parking system helps you steer expertly into a parking spot and helps with perpendicular parking as well.
The ST models lose the roof rails and add paddle shifters according to Edmunds. You also get front seat memory functions so you can customize your driving position and restore them whenever you like. There’s a pretty neat digital instrument panel thrown in too.
The 2021 Ford Explorer
The new Ford Explorer’s base, XLT, and Limited models have a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine standard with rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive available. There’s a hybrid powertrain too with a 3.3-liter V6 engine combined with an electric motor that gets 318 hp. The transmission is a 10-speed automatic across the lineup.
The Ford Explorer got an all-new rear-wheel-drive platform according to Car and Driver. When equipped for such, the Explorer can tow as much as 5,600 pounds. The ride is well-behaved in all but the ST models. With their extra power and more rigid suspension, the ST models enter the realm of performance SUVs.
U.S. News tells us that the 2021 Ford Explorer offers an 8.1-inch touchscreen standard for the infotainment system with a 10.1-inch screen with portrait layout available. There’s Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, six speakers, four USB ports, satellite radio, and a Wi-Fi hotspot for connectivity. You can also get a 12.3-inch driver display that’s customizable, wireless device charging, and a rear-seat entertainment setup.
The three rows of seats though not a lot of room in the very back. There are plenty of tech features to keep you connected and safe. Its cabin isn’t winning any awards for quality or design. You expect a little more for the money.