A silver 2021 Ford Explorer is parked in front of a log cabin and a group of mountain bikers.

Capabilities of the 2021 Ford Explorer

The new 2021 Ford Explorer is the latest in a long line of SUV innovation. After having popularized the segment with the initial generation of Explorer in the ’90s, Ford has continually stayed on top of SUV developments and introduced many of them over the years. Now in its sixth consecutive generation, the Explorer has been at the forefront of passenger Sport Utility Vehicle development for over thirty years. The new Explorer continues to offer the most modern technologies and capabilities available to the consumer in the SUV segment, both inside and out. Let’s take a comprehensive look at this next generation American SUV by the numbers.

Explore the Interior

The most important part of a modern SUV for the vast majority of those that use them is the interior. This doesn’t just include the interior’s aesthetics, but the complete experience of being transported from place to place in this mobile space. Also important is the reason most opt for a mid-size SUV over a compact crossover: the capacity both for carrying people and cargo, and doing so effortlessly.

In terms of carrying people, the 2021 Explorer comes standard with three rows of seating, with the third row having a fold-flat 50/50 split to enable easy cargo management in addition to people carrying. The Explorer can safely seat a maximum of 7, making it more than capable of hauling an entire family, a couple of friends, and or all of your luggage.

Speaking of luggage, cargo space is abundant, with a cavernous 87.8 cubic feet of space behind the front seats with all second and third row seats folded down. If you just fold down the third row, you’ll have 47.9 cubic feet, and if you have all the seats up, you still get an impressive 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space. The total passenger volume for the vast majority of models is 152.7 cubic feet, providing abundant head, shoulder, hip, and legroom.

These days though, just having the space isn’t quite enough. Amenities are important, and the Explorer’s interior is full of them. An 8-inch capacitive touchscreen in the center stack is standard, or you can upgrade it to a robust 10.1-inch screen. Keyless entry is standard, as is Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. The system includes voice recognition for hands-free controls, which pairs well with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The Explorer also has an array of USB ports throughout the vehicle so you and your passengers can keep connected and keep your tech charged.

Simple comfort itself is not overlooked, with lush seating standard and available options such as micro-perforated leather. Captain’s chairs are standard upfront, with most models including a 10-way adjustable driver seat and 8-way adjustable passenger seat. An available upgrade is heated and ventilated seat functionality for making the driver and passenger that much more comfortable.

A closeup shows a driver of a 2021 Ford Explorer using the navigation on a large infotainment screen.

Explore the Safety features

As a family vehicle, the Explorer’s safety features are of paramount importance. The 2021 model features a battery of features that have proved adept at avoiding accidents entirely, such as automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping, pedestrian detection, and other semi-autonomous technologies. These features are based on the complete coverage provided by the vehicle’s several different types of sensor systems, each adding another level of safety to the complete package.

Sensors include optical, ultrasonic, and accelerometer-based technology that not only keeps an eye on the vehicle’s surroundings but also continuously monitors the driving situation the Explorer is in. This includes potential wheel slippage, body roll, and many other factors. These systems all contribute to the advanced stability control system found on the Explorer, as well as the trailer sway control and the blind spot monitoring system.

Additionally, the 2021 Explorer comes as standard with advanced airbag systems. In the first row, there are driver and passenger Dual-Stage front airbags, along with front-seat side and driver/passenger knee airbags. Additionally, all rows come equipped with the Safety Canopy Side-Curtain airbag system. All of these features combined have earned the Explorer recognition as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, proving the mid-size Suv is the safe choice for your family.

Explore the Drivetrain

With so much cargo capacity, the engine and drivetrain options available in the 2021 Ford Explorer have a large task to execute, but they are more than prepared to do so. There are three options available for the Explorer, each with its own strengths. The most economical option in terms of the purchase price is the 2.3-liter turbo EcoBoost four-cylinder. This is the same engine used in some of Ford’s more sporty applications, including variants of the Mustang and performance Focus models. Do not let the small displacement fool you, as this torquey turbo four-cylinder is more than capable of moving the Explorer and all its passengers and cargo around.

For those looking for maximum efficiency from their engine, the 3.3-liter V6 Hybrid powertrain will more than meet expectations. This hybrid powertrain gets 27 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway with the standard front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive models see 23 city and 26 highway miles per gallon. Essentially the large 2021 hybrid Explorer gets the same gas mileage on the freeway as a cheap compact car, and actually much more than a normal compact car in city driving, thanks to the incredibly efficient electric motor the hybrid system includes. All very impressive for a three-row family hauler with immense cargo space.

Performance and premium Explorer variants are powered by the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Many might think the ST badging on the Explorer ST is just there for show, but the large SUV can rapidly accelerate to 60 miles per hour from a standing start in 5.2 seconds. That’s outstanding for an SUV of this size, and it does it with a full warranty and all the amenities that are normally available.

There are two secrets to this impressive performance. The first is that 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 has been tuned to produce up to 400 horsepower. The second is the new Explorer’s rear-wheel drive based four-wheel drive system. Combined with performance-tuned traction control, that system puts every single horsepower the beefy turbocharged engine makes directly into the pavement, without slip or drama. This makes the Explorer ST genuinely sporty in ways SUVs very rarely are and a true stoplight sleeper for the uninitiated.

A red 2021 Ford Explorer ST is driving on winding highway next to a rock face.

Explore the Chassis

The backbone of the 2021 Ford Explorer is an efficient and strong galvanized steel and aluminum unibody skeleton. Lighter, safer, and just as strong as the older and less material-efficient body-on-frame construction of early SUVs, this modern method combines the best aspects of modern car production with the extra toughness required in an SUV. The Explorer’s suspension is strut-based in front and multi-link in the rear. It is tuned to provide a comfortable ride while maintaining traction in all kinds of weather and road conditions. The ST features a sport-tuned suspension and more focused tires to improve dry grip and maximum lateral-G as well as acceleration and braking.

Get Out There and Explore

This new generation American SUV is true to much of the segment’s roots, despite featuring modern unibody construction and mostly V6 engines. The interior of the new Explorer is comfortable, modern, and chic while gaining practicality, with fold-flat third-row seating being standard. This large SUV also carries massive capacity capabilities and will easily transport just about any cargo a family can throw at it. The 2021 Explorer is a workhorse that can moonlight as a racehorse, and it is the perfect SUV for you and your family.