2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV

MSRP $49,855 - $51,855

Ranked #24 in Midsize Suv

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2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: December 28, 2021

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Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The midsize SUV segment has a lot of competition and is one of the best categories to pick a new car from. Among these, cars have been getting smarter and hybridization is the latest trend to sweep over the category. One of the most popular options in the segment is the 2021 Ford Explorer hybrid. The car is part of the six-generation of the popular crossover SUV from the brand which is introduced in 2020.

More from 2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Exclusive Interior and Exterior Pictures | View latest Pictures

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Latest Updates

  • Jan' 13, 2022 : Ford F-Series Truck And The Explorer Are The Most Sold Vehicles In Ford’s Lineup For 2021 Read More »
See detailed review »

Pros

Engine is powerful

Seats are excellent and spacious

Good amount of standard safety features

Cons

Third-row space is not great

Interior materials a bit cheaper than the competition

Noise insulation is bad

What's New?

Platinum trim now available


See all »

Features

vehicle bio

base price

$49855

bodystyle

4dr SUV

engine type

horsepower

318 hp @ 6500 rpm

torque

322 lb.-ft.. @ 4000 rpm

transmission

10 speed automatic

dimensions

wheelbase

119.1 in.

length

198.3 in.

width

78.9 in.

height

69.9 in.

curb weight

4969 lbs.

ground clearance

7.9 in.

capacity

towing capacity

5000 lbs.

warranty

roadside assistance

No


Pictures & Videos


Trims

Limited$49,855 onwards

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Bang & Olufsen 12 speaker sound system
  • Leather seating
  • Three-Zone climate control

Colors and Styles

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV in Astral Blue color
Astral Blue

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Pricing and Features

8.0

Engine and Performance

6.0

Fuel Economy

6.0

Interior

7.0

Exterior

9.0

Safety

8.0

Competition

6.0

7.1

OVERALL RATING

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide

7.1

Overall Rating


Carrying over with very minor changes for the 2021 model year, prices for the Ford Explorer hybrid start at $50,600. It comes with a lot of safety features and a powerful V-6 engine as standard. It is also a very well-loaded vehicle that comes with all the necessary features you would want and competes against the Toyota Highlander hybrid, Lexus RX 450h, and Acura MDX Sport hybrid.


6.0/10
Engine and Performance

6.0/10
Fuel Economy

7.0/10
Interior

9.0/10
Exterior

8.0/10
Safety

6.0/10
Competition


2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Features

The Ford Explorer trim lineup is quite expensive and has several options for you to choose from including the sportier ST variant. Out of these, to the 2021 model year, only one model is available as a hybrid and that was the midrange Limited trim level. The 2021 model sees the addition of the Platinum trim to the hybrid lineup and this gives the Explorer a very well-loaded trim level. 

It is also priced quite well and one will find that there are a lot of optional extras to choose from. We find even the base trim level in the hybrid very well equipped, coming with features such as hands-free powered liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, second-row captain’s chairs, 50-50 split-folding third-row seats, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, and so on.

Model

Limited Hybrid

Platinum Hybrid

MSRP (RWD)

$50,6000 

$54,385

MSRP (AWD)

$52,855

$56,650

Key Features

3.3-liter V6 with hybrid assistance

Adaptive headlights

 

Forward Sensing System

Class 3 Trailer Tow Package

 

Heated Steering Wheel

Digital Gauge Cluster Display

 

Ambient Lighting

Extended leather upholstery

 

Universal Garage-door Opener

Rear automatic braking

Which trim should you buy?

It is quite a confusing thing to look at the two trim levels of the Ford Explorer and choose between the two. On one hand, the Platinum trim level is offered at such a good price that one is tempted to go for it. On the other hand, features like adaptive headlights, extended leather upholstery, and rear automatic braking cannot make it exactly worth the increase in price from the very well-equipped Limited trim level. In fact, given the extensive options list that Ford offers, one can pick more desirable features and still end up with a lighter price tag than the higher trim. Hence our recommendation would be the Limited trim level.

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Engine and Performance

6.0/10

When it comes to the performance of the Ford Explorer hybrid, the company has provided it with enough, and then a little more. The SUV is powered by a 3.3 L V6 engine as standard along with the electric motor for a combined power output of 318 hp and 322 pound-feet of torque. It results in a decently quick car when you combine it with the 10-speed automatic transmission that you find in several Ford products of late. The transmission offered is a rear-wheel drive, but you can equip it with an all-wheel-drive for an additional $2000.

Although one does get a lot of power, something seriously bogs down the performance of this vehicle. One finds that it only has a 0 to 60 mph time of 7.7 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15.7 seconds whereas much less powerful competitors have better figures. The top speed is nearly 123 mph which is not too fast either. Overall, one feels that the performance is a little underwhelming in the Explorer.

Model

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2021 Lexus RX 450H

2021 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

MSRP

$49,855

$38,410

$46,800

$52,900

Engine

3.3L V6

2.5L Inline-4

3.5L Premium V6

3.0L Premium V6

Drivetrain

RWD

FWD

AWD

AWD

Transmission

10-speed Automatic

e-CVT

e-CVT

e-CVT

Power

318 hp @ 5,500 RPM

243 hp @ 5,800 RPM

308 hp @ 6,000 RPM

321 hp @ 6,300 RPM

Torque

322 lb-ft @ 3,500 RPM

175 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM

247 lb-ft @ 4,600 RPM

289 lb-ft@ 5,000 RPM

0-60 MPH

7.7 sec

6.6 sec

6.1 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.7 sec

14.9 sec

14.6 sec

14.7 sec

Top Speed

123 MPH

115 MPH

143 MPH

143 MPH

One can see that among the competitors, the Toyota Highlander is priced significantly lower than its competitors since it comes with a much smaller engine. However, in terms of its performance, it does remain very competitive and this makes it a great deal. However, it is the Lexus that has the best performance in the segment. It is a significantly better-performing car in every single aspect. The Acura is also an excellent car even though it is slightly more expensive than the competition. The Ford Explorer hybrid seems like a very underwhelming car when you consider its price and its performance.

How well does the 2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid handle?

When it comes to handling, no SUV ever promises a lot. Even when you walk in with no expectations, they most often than not disappoint you. The Ford Explorer is not much of an exception and its previous generations are notorious for bad handling and unsafe driving dynamics. Ford has come a long way from that but even the current generation does not exactly feel like it’s nimble. The ST variant is much better but the hybrid does not promise much in terms of handling.

The steering feels slightly heavy and makes maneuvering this SUV around town a big difficulty. As we expected, there is nothing extremely pleasing in the dynamics department as well. However, it has decent ride quality due to the suspension setup that Ford has incorporated in this car. The cabin is also adequately silent and one definitely feels comfortable inside it. All-wheel-drive does improve the driving dynamics a lot but the car is composed of all trims.

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid Braking Performance

The braking performance of the Ford Explorer hybrid is nothing to write home about either. Even though it is only a middleweight in this category, tipping the scales at 4345 pounds, its brakes are some of the smallest that you can see in this segment. It has 12.8 inch rotors both front and rear and it only comes to a halt from 60 mph in 121 feet which is the longest stopping distance. The pedal however feels decently waited and there is some amount of feedback in terms of how much bite is offered.

Model

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2021 Lexus RX 450H

2021 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Brake Front (in)

12.8

13.3

13.3

12.6

Brake Rear (in)

12.8

13.3

12.9

13.0

Curb Weight (lbs)

4345

4145

4740

4471

60-0 MPH (ft.)

121

116

115

116

As we have observed in terms of performance, the Lexus RX 450h manages to come out on top again. The Toyota Highlander has the biggest brake rotors and also is the lightest SUV in the segment and hence returns very decent braking distances as well. The Lexus sets the category benchmarks but does 62 0 mph stopping distance of just 115 feet. The American SUV trails behind it at 121 feet stopping distance which is far from impressive. However, the Lexus is quite heavy at 4740 pounds while the Acura and the Ford remain nearly similar in terms of weight.

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Fuel Economy

6.0/10

Even though we do not expect class-leading performance out of the Ford Explorer hybrid since the ST version is available, one would definitely want to be very fuel-efficient as that is one of the primary motivations behind going for a hybrid. This SUV performs adequately well, returning an EPA estimated fuel efficiency rating of 27 MPG in the city, 29 MPG on the highway, and 28 MPG combined. It also has a huge fuel tank that can hold 17.9 gallons and hence the range figures are decent. It is good for 519 miles on the highway and 501 miles in the combined cycle.

Model

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2021 Lexus RX 450H

2021 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

MPG (City)

27

35

26

31

MPG (Highway)

29

34

27

28

MPG (Combined)

28

35

27

30

Fuel Capacity

17.9 gallons

17.2 gallons

19.4 gallons

17.2 gallons

Range (City/Hwy/Combined)

483/519/501 miles

602/584.8/602 miles

504/524 524miles

533/482/516 miles

Once again, we find that the Toyota Highlander hybrid comes out on top in terms of fuel efficiency as well as a range. It has the smallest fuel tank in this category at 17.2 gallons but the fuel efficiency is so much greater than it has much better range. It also performs more like a hybrid in the sense that it has its best fuel efficiency rating in the city and not on the highway. The Lexus has the least figures in this department but it is not much behind the Ford. Considering how much better the Lexus is in terms of performance, we can definitely understand its fuel efficiency issue. The Acura is also very impressive because it strikes a good balance between performance and efficiency.

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Interior

7.0/10

The interior material quality is quite different depending on the trim level you choose for the Ford Explorer. If you opt for the higher trim level, you get extended leather upholstery which gives you many soft-touch surfaces that can increase the material quality of the cabin by a lot. The design is convenient and ergonomic making ingress and egress very easy. However, it is not a very modern cabin-like some of its competitors have and hence is not exactly exciting to look at.

The SUV is also provided with a lot of features, some of which are completely missing from its rivals. These include many features that its rivals only have as options being standard in this car. Rear visibility is limited and it may take some time adapting to. Cargo capacity is decent at 18.2 ft.³ and can increase by a lot when you fold the rear seats. The interiors are very spacious which is one of the strongest points about the Ford Explorer.

Model

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2021 Lexus RX 450H

2021 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Seating Capacity

7

7

7

5

First Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (inches)

40.7/61.8/43.0

39.5/59.3/44.2

38.1/61.1/41.4

39.4/57.8/44.1

Second Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (inches)

40.5/61.9/39.0

39.6/59.0/38.4

38.3/59.1/35.6

38.2/57.6/38.0

Third Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (inches)

38.9/54.6/32.2

35.9/55.0/27.7

35.6/54.7/28.1

N/A

Cargo Capacity (cu-ft)

18.2

16.0

15.0

18.0

We find that all the rivals are in a losing fight against the Ford Explorer when it comes to interior space offered. But even though it is spacious, it fails to provide the material quality that some of its luxury rivals like the Lexus offers. This is a good time to remember that the Toyota is offered at a much cheaper price and hence is quite a bargain deal even though it has slightly lesser interior space. The Ford Explorer comes out on top and proves to be the segment leader in terms of cargo space as well. Some standard features include:

  • Rearview Monitor
  • Hands-free text messaging assistant
  • Remote keyless entry with push-button ignition
  • Cruise control with illuminated steering-mounted controls
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Manual tilt and telescopic steering column
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Sun visors and extension
  • Front and rear map lights
  • Two dash-mounted 12V DC power outlets

What’s there to keep you entertained?

When it comes to infotainment options, there is plenty on offer. The infotainment screen is an 8-inch screen and there is also a digital driver information display. However, the higher trim level comes with the practically oriented 10.1-inch infotainment screen which is a much better system. The sound system was also decent and the standard infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is a 12 speaker Bang and the Olufsen stereo is extremely nice. The display is also very crisp and intuitive to use. Some features of the infotainment system include: 

  • AM/FM Stereo HD Radio
  • Speed-Sensitive Volume Control
  • Auxiliary Audio Input and USB With External Media Control
  • Satellite Radio Service
  • USB Connection
  • Smart Device Integration
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • Navigation System
  • Onboard Hands-Free Communication System

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Exterior

9.0/10

The Ford Explorer hybrid is a breath of fresh air in the pickup truck segment. With all the Japanese crossover SUVs slowly starting to look like each other, the American manufacturers are offering quite different vehicles. It looks more like a traditional SUV has several design cues that reminds us of the well-proportioned SUVs that we were used to. We feel that it is a design that has a lot of plus points and nicely integrates all the different elements that make it beautiful.

Model

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2021 Lexus RX 450H

2021 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Curb Weight (lbs)

4345

4145

4740

4471

Length

198.3”

192.5"

196.2"

192.5"

Width

78.9”

75.8"

77.7"

74.6"

Height

69.9”

68.1"

67.4"

67.7"

Ground Clearance

7.9”

8.0"

7.3"

8.2"

Wheelbase

119.1”

109.8"

111.0"

109.8"

The Ford Explorer is much larger in terms of size when you compare it with the rest of the competition. In terms of weight, the Ford is a middleweight like we have mentioned before as the Lexus is so much heavier. The Acura and the Toyota have the shortest wheelbase but offer good ground clearance and can navigate through tough terrain. The Lexus is much more of an equal when it comes to size while the Acura and the Toyota are much more compact. Some standout features include:

  • LED taillights
  • LED DRLs
  • LED headlights
  • Automatic exterior rear view mirrors
  • Chrome quad exhausts tips
  • Twin-panel moonroof
  • Aluminum grille
  • 18, 20 & 21-inch alloy wheels

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Safety

8.0/10

When it comes to safety, Ford has truly showered the SUV with a lot of technology. It has received a five-star safety rating from NHTSA and the IIHS has also given it a very good rating. However, it missed out on the Top Safety Pick award due to a score in the small overlap frontal crash test. It comes with most of the advanced safety features available in the market today as standard features and several more as options. Some of the standout safety features include: 

  • Driver Drowsiness Monitoring
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Rearview Camera
  • Pedestrian Detection
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Reverse Brake Assist
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Adaptive Cruise Control

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Competition

6.0/10

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid Vs. 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Toyota Highlander is the least expensive of its three rivals. However, it manages to provide nearly everything that its rivals provide and also comes with very good powertrain options. However, if fuel efficiency is a factor the Toyota is a much better option than the rest of its segment. It has slightly lesser interior space but is an excellent choice in terms of every other aspect.

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid vs. 2021 Lexus RX 450h 

The Lexus RX 450h is the most luxurious vehicle in the segment and yet is offered at a very good price. It provides all the features buyers are looking for and then some more. It also manages to provide an excellent powertrain. It is also a little down in terms of interior space but in terms of the exterior by missions, it is the closest rival to the Ford Explorer. We would pick the Lexus over the Ford.

2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid Vs. 2021 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

The Acura MDX Sport Hybrid is the best-selling car in the segment and shows us exactly why. We find that it is a better performing, more efficient as well as more comfortable crossover SUV than the Ford Explorer. It provides a lot of options in terms of features as well. However, its interior space is a little limited when you compare it to the Ford but is better in nearly every other aspect despite costing a little extra.

2021 Ford Explorer hybrid SUV Final Verdict

The 2021 Ford Explorer hybrid is one of the most ambitious offerings from the brand but fails to live up to the competition that is present in this category. Hence, its competitors managed to outperform it in every single department and also offered a lot more options when it comes to purchasing a new hybrid midsize crossover SUV. We feel that we’re better off picking any of its rivals and hence would not recommend this car unless they need that much more interior space.