A white 2021 Ford Explorer is shown from the front driving on a dirt trail as part of the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Ford Bronco comparison.

2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Ford Bronco: Who’s More Adventurous?

The exciting release of the 2021 Ford Bronco is quite the buzz in the automotive world. However, Ford also has another adventurous midsize sedan – the 2021 Ford Explorer. So, if you are looking for a capable new SUV from the blue oval, which one to choose? We know the Explorer has its fair share of off-roading abilities, but the all-new Bronco is unlike any other Ford SUV in the off-roading arena. Let’s compare the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Ford Bronco and see who has the greatest capacity for adventure, as well as which one is the better fit for most drivers.

Performance For All Conditions

Undoubtedly, when adventure and off-roading is your primary goal, then you need an SUV that can give you the stats to prove its performance. We’re looking at the engine capabilities and what the drive modes can produce in both the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Ford Bronco because we know that you demand high performance when you’re heading off-road.

The 2021 Ford Explorer boasts an available 3.0L EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission. This can give you up to 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque in the Ford Explorer ST. The 2021 Explorer also comes standard with rear-wheel drive that definitely aids in its performance capabilities. There is also an option for an intelligent four-wheel drive in the 2021 Ford Explorer. This advanced system helps the 2021 Ford Explorer hit different terrains and road conditions, which amps up its adventure-seeking performance. The Explorer’s Terrain Management System also allows for several different driving modes like normal, snow/sand, trail, slippery, tow/haul, and eco. While you may not consider the Ford Explorer as an off-roading vehicle, it definitely has available features that can give you a thrill.

The 2021 Ford Bronco has the performance as its name suggests. It was literally tested in the harshest of road and off-road conditions to ensure its performance capabilities. There’s no doubt the 2021 Ford Bronco comes with a lot of hype, but does it have the components to back it up? Indeed it does. The highest performance trim of the 2021 Ford Bronco is the Bronco Wildtrak, which has a 2.7L twin-turbocharged V6 engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission with trail control. This trim was made for high-speed off-roading. Each trim of the 2021 Ford Bronco is unique and has custom-like components that all promote the highest level of adventure.

Several of the 2021 Bronco models feature their own Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. modes (Goes Over Any type of Terrain). There are up to eight modes, including normal, sport, eco, sand, slippery, mud/ruts, rock crawl, and Baja. The availability is dependent on the trim level, but the point is solid, the 2021 Ford Bronco can handle some serious experiences.

It may be clear the 2021 Ford Bronco is better equipped for performance-seeking drivers, and that could be true, but don’t count out the 2021 Explorer. Both of these SUVs have a considerable amount of performance available, and depending on your desires and necessities, either could satisfy your wish list for a performance SUV.

A yellow 2021 Ford Bronco 2-door is driving on a dirt trail.

Capability That Takes You Further

Now we know the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Ford Bronco have the ability and driving modes to approach any adventure, but how does their capability shape up? The 2021 Ford Explorer was engineered and crafted as an SUV that’s versatile, from taking the kids to school to towing the camper for a weekend at the lake. In the 2021 Ford Bronco, everything from the tires to the cruise control is designed to make it more capable off-road.

The 2021 Ford Explorer is more capable than you might think. With the towing package, the 2021 Explorer can tow a maximum of 5,600 lbs. That’s some serious gear you can take along for the ride. To better help you drive safely with extra gear, the 2021 Explorer’s trailer sway control gives you more control and stability when you need it most. During those adventures when you’re headed up the mountain or through a coastal climate with a lot of wind gusts, the 2021 Explorer is equipped with side-wind stabilization that aids your driving capabilities in gusty situations. It’s detailed features like these that further elevate the 2021 Ford Explorer as a solid contender for adventures.

The 2021 Ford Bronco is crafted for the ultimate capability. It’s even best-in-class in several performance and capability categories. The 2021 Bronco has an available approach angle of 43.2 degrees and up to 11.6 inches of ground clearance, which gives you some serious ability to handle some rocky terrain. The available 35-inch mud-terrain tires are particularly impressive and help give the Bronco its best-in-class ground clearance and best-in-class water fording. Even better, the 35-inch tires and other off-road features of the Sasquatch Package are available on every single trim.

If your head is spinning, we get it – those are some impressive stats to process from a not-so-average SUV. However, there is even more – for instance, the trail control capability feature on the 2021 Ford Bronco. Basically, this is used like cruise control to better drive the roughest terrain. As you steer over the rocky terrain, the trail control uses throttle, individual wheel braking, and constant speed to give you the best experience possible on your excursion.

In the context of capability, the 2021 Ford Bronco is a clear favorite for off-roading. If you plan to do some serious off-roading on the toughest trails in the country, then the 2021 Ford Bronco is your best option for an SUV that can handle it. However, the 2021 Ford Explorer will definitely help you navigate those extra road conditions or experiences that stray from the normal daily activities. It doesn’t carry the extra capability that might be important to the advanced thrill-seekers, but it is a solid platform with plenty of power and will offer a more comfortable ride on the road.

A red 2021 Ford Explorer is towing an Airstream camper on a highway.

Choose Your Vehicle

While there’s more to the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Ford Bronco than just performance and capability components, these are the important features to discuss when comparing the two SUVs. When you’re looking for an SUV that can keep up with your spirit of adventure, performance and capability have to be at the top of the list. In terms of the best off-road performance and capability, the 2021 Ford Bronco takes the prize, but that does not automatically qualify it as a better SUV.

The 2021 Ford Explorer has enough performance and capability features available that allow it to hold its own on the off-road. This is especially good news to the driver who’s looking to take the family with them as the Explorer seats up to seven passengers, whereas the 2021 Bronco seats four or five passengers. All this to say, the 2021 Ford Explorer and 2021 Ford Bronco each serve a purpose and cover the wide variety of adventure levels that people desire. For those who want the most epic drive in the desert or on the rocks, the 2021 Ford Bronco will be your best friend. For the person who needs a family SUV that can handle trips to the mountains or camping, the 2021 Ford Explorer will exceed your expectations.