The Ford Explorer is one of the best-selling crossover SUVs in the USA, and an all-new model showed its face in 2020. Along with the new Explorer came a hybrid model, which is back for 2021 with a few changes. The Ford Explorer Hybrid is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to an electric motor that produces a combined 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels or the rear via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Last year the Hybrid was only available in Limited trim, but Ford now offers its eco-friendly SUV in top-of-the-range Platinum trim as well. While the Ford Explorer Hybrid is a capable SUV, it's not really designed for extreme off-road shenanigans, and while the hybridized powertrain offers improved fuel economy over the regular gasoline version, it's not class leading in terms of mpg. With competition from the brand-new hybrid Kia Sorento and the evergreen Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the Explorer Hybrid is going to need to work a little harder to really stand out in the segment.
The hybrid Explorer was introduced last year and remains mostly unchanged for 2021, but Ford now offers the Hybrid in Platinum trim. While Limited models get access to RWD or 4WD, the Platinum trim can only be paired with four-wheel drive. Both new Ford Explorer hybrid trims also get an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat; oddly, last year's non-hybrid Platinum had a 10-way power front passenger seat. There are numerous other small changes to the lineup such as the addition of a few new exterior colors (Carbonized Gray, Infinite Blue, and Stone Gray) and improved interior finishes.
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The mid-size SUV class is one of the most competitive markets in the US, and the Ford Explorer has managed to remain competitive for six generations. The 2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid forms part of an accomplished family that includes some impressive gas engines and some decent features. Still, we can't help but feel that the hybrid powertrain feels like somewhat of an afterthought. Even Ford doesn't seem keen to flaunt the hybrid's capabilities (a small badge on the tailgate is all you get), because to be honest, it doesn't offer that much more efficiency. It's plenty powerful enough, but you might as well go for the twin-turbo V6 engine and pay a few bucks more for gas. The good news is that if you're really keen on a hybrid, Ford now offers the Explorer Hybrid in Platinum trim, which means you get all the bells and whistles. On the plus side, decent powertrain specs mean a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs, and the NHTSA's safety review of the Ford Explorer Hybrid resulted in a five-star overall score.
The Ford Explorer hybrid is only available in two trim levels, namely Limited and Platinum. The price of the Ford Explorer Hybrid Limited in RWD guise is $50,105 MSRP excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $1,245. For 4WD, you pay $2,000 extra. The top of the range Platinum trim adds some tasty standard features but only comes in AWD guise, and for that, you pay extra: this model will set you back $53,335 without options added to that price.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Ford Explorer Hybrid: