- ford's mid-size explorer suv is now available in three additional trims, including a sporty enthusiast st model.
- the explorer platinum gains a cheaper rear-wheel-drive variant and can now also be had with a hybrid powertrain (2021 platinum hybrid is pictured above).
- these new trims join the explorer lineup for 2021 and will be available this summer.
family suvs with performance aspirations are far from the norm, but the ford explorer st moved to fill that niche when it was introduced for the 2020 model year. now, ford is doubling down on the st model by introducing a enthusiast st trim that's $4080 cheaper. it inherits the st's mechanical components—including the twin-turbocharged v-6 that makes 400 horsepower, teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission—but drops some luxury and convenience features.
the enthusiast st still comes with plenty of goodies—and at $49,995, it ought to—including 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital gauge display, a heated steering wheel, and a host of driver-assistance features including lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam headlamps. we expect similar performance to the regular explorer st, which bolted to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds on our test track.
at the other end of the performance spectrum is the explorer's hybrid powertrain, which is now available on the top-spec explorer platinum. up until now, it had only been offered on the midrange limited. the 318-hp hybrid arrangement pairs a 3.3-liter v-6 with an electric motor.
at $54,330, the hybrid platinum undercuts the all-wheel-drive nonhybrid model by $1395, but it's not the cheapest platinum trim. that honor goes to the newly introduced rear-wheel-drive platinum, which clocks in at $53,725. none of these high-dollar, high-content models are likely within reach of the average buyer, though. despite a price cut for 2021, the explorer is one of the more expensive among mid-size suvs, with five of its eight trim levels starting in the $50,000 range or higher. the base explorer's pricing lines up with the the kia telluride, hyundai palisade, and others in the segment, but the rest of the lineup is much pricier by comparison.