Ford's popular three-row SUV continues to gain newer, less-expensive variants, plus a new top-trim hybrid.
Ford is making a few changes to its popular Explorer SUV lineup, and the biggest news is the introduction of a lower-cost version of its 2021 Explorer ST performance model. Announced Thursday, the new trim is somewhat awkwardly called Explorer Enthusiast ST.
Slightly decontented from the standard ST, the Explorer Enthusiast ST doesn't exactly sound like it'll be a penalty box. The model still gets the same twin-turbocharged EcoBoost six-cylinder engine and 10-speed automatic transmission, good for 400 horsepower, 415 pound-feet of torque and a 143-mph top speed. The Enthusiast ST also wears the same sport-tuned suspension and includes such niceties as a partial leather interior, 20-inch wheels, Class II Trailer Tow Package and standard CoPilot 360 advanced safety gear, all for $49,995 including $1,245 delivery -- a substantial $4,080 less than a standard 2021 Explorer ST.
So what's the new Enthusiast ST missing? The standard ST's 401A "ST High" equipment package, a big bundle of kit that includes everything from a 12-speaker B&O premium audio system to wireless charging pad, Active Park Assist 2.0 and 360-degree camera coverage. By the way, in case you're wondering, you won't be able to easily discern the new ST Enthusiast trim on the street just by looking at one, because it wears the same badging on the outside as the regular ST.
Also new for 2021 is a slightly less costly rear-wheel-drive version of the Explorer Platinum for markets where all-wheel drive isn't a necessity. This luxe trim comes with a 3.0-liter V6 and starts at $52,480 including delivery. This development continues the Blue Oval's trend toward offering more-affordable versions of the Explorer, which has been facing stiff competition from both home and abroad.
In other Platinum news, Ford has finally decided to bring its 3.3-liter V6 hybrid drivetrainto the Explorer Platinum. The V6-based hybrid offers 315 hp and promises to return an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon city, 26 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined -- fuel efficiency figures good enough for a 500-plus-mile range between gas station visits. Ford plans on charging a starting price of $54,330 (including $1,245 destination) for the most luxurious hybrid SUV you can get with a Blue Oval on the hood.
All three models: Enthusiast ST, Platinum RWD and Platinum Hybrid are available to order now and should hit Ford dealers later this summer, where they will join the recently revealed Explorer King Ranch trim announced in February.