2025 Ford Explorer, One of the Best Cars

2025 Ford Explorer, One of the Best Cars


2025 Ford Explorer First Look: 3-Row Gets New Tech and Luxury

America’s all-time SUV sales leader gets major tech upgrade, a posher interior, and a simpler lineup.

With more than 8 million sold and 3.5 million still on the road, the Ford Explorer may have earned itself icon status, but the sixth-gen Explorer—new for 2020 and hailed for its savvy packaging and strong value—finished dead last in a recent Big Test. It also currently ranks 10th in the crowded three-row-SUV class in the Liberty Magazine Ultimate Car Rankings, owing largely to out-of-date technology and some drivability issues. The time is clearly ripe for a redemptive midcycle refresh, in the form of this summer’s 2025 Ford Explorer.

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Ford Digital Experience Debuts

Sync is being phased out, long live FDE! Ford is openly courting millennials with this rethink of the Explorer, and what these folks want more than anything else is for their vehicle to offer seamless integration into their digital landscape. Fun Ford-quoted fact: The average household now has 16 connected devices, and Ford aims to make Explorer one of them—via whatever the customer’s preferred connection is.

Amazonians can ask Alexa to do their bidding, Apple-heads can summon Siri, and of course “Hey Google” will get any vocal command handled with equivalent ease. In all cases, Apple Maps or Google Maps can also be displayed on the instrument cluster as well as the center screen.

Relative to the outgoing Explorer’s Sync setup, onboard system computing power has quintupled, while graphics processing power has quattuordecupled (that’s 14 times)! Gamers will appreciate this when they pair their Bluetooth gaming controllers with the car, allowing them to play Asphalt Nitro 2 or other games available at the Google Play store (only when parked).

There’s a more powerful Vivaldi web browser, which can be accessed more easily by pairing a Bluetooth keyboard—again, when parked. Clearly, leaving this vehicle switched off in the garage is going to strike some owners as a waste of 5G connectivity (for up to 10 mobile devices) and high-res screens.

Speaking of which, every Explorer will get the full Ford Digital Experience rendered on both a 13.2-inch landscape-oriented infotainment screen and a 12.3-inch digital cluster screen—no mechanical dials or puny screens even for rental versions. Expect FDE to propagate throughout the lineup as models are refreshed.

BlueCruise 1.2 semi-autonomous hands-free driving also comes to the 2025 Explorer for the first time, eager to assist with lane changes and to generally alleviate drivers of the drudgery of long-distance hauls. ST-Line, ST, and Platinum models will come with the option of a 90-day free trial or a time-of-purchase discounted annual subscription rate of $700/year. After that, rates are $75/month or $800/year.

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Freshened Front And Rear

Design changes are modest outside: There are four new grilles, one for each variant in the simplified model lineup. Active consolidates the previous base and XLT, ST-Line brings all the ST style without the big engine and incorporates some Limited features, ST is the performance leader, and Platinum is the luxury flagship, which absorbs some King Ranch features. (The Timberline trim will rejoin the lineup as the trail tackler some months after the main launch.)

This model-line consolidation shrinks the number of major buildable combinations from “hundreds to around 40,” reducing assembly-logistics costs and vehicle-ordering heartburn. There are new all-LED lamps and redesigned fascias at both ends, plus four new wheel designs in 18-, 20-, and 21-inch sizes; plus one new color and the option of a black roof; and several new interior ambiances.

Swankier Inner Space

All four trim levels get a wrap-and-sew look on the dash, door panels, and console, though the materials selection improves the more you spend. We also love the new fabric-covered “sound bar” that traverses the dash and houses tweeters relocated from the A-pillars. There are some new colorways (the coolest of which is a deep maroon/purple called Mojave Dusk, available on Platinum models) and seating materials—like ActiveX with Miko suede inserts.

All models also get a tray beneath the infotainment screen that can charge one large phone and park another one next to it. A choice of two captain’s chairs or a three-across bench is available in the middle row on all but the ST (which only gets buckets), while a power-folding third row is optional or standard across the top of the line. There are now eight USB charging points scattered throughout the vehicle, including one legacy A-type jack in front.

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Minimal Mechanical Mods

The biggest changes to the powertrain lineup are deletion of both the lower-powered 3.0-liter and the hybrid offering (except via Ford Pro for police or other government/fleet operations). That leaves a simple choice of a 300-hp 2.3-liter EcoBoost four and a 400-hp 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6, both hitched to a 10-speed automatic that has purportedly been reprogrammed, applying lessons learned across numerous product lines aimed at improving drivability.

And because an outsize number of Explorer customers are said to enjoy camping and fishing, a Class-III hitch good for 5,000 pounds now is standard. Also standard: six driving modes on RWD models, seven on the AWD variants.

Price And On-Sale Date

The 2025 Ford Explorer can be ordered now, with dealer deliveries anticipated for early summer of 2024. Pricing will start at $41,220 for the base Active trim—that’s up $2,765 from the outgoing base model, which is more than accounted for with additional standard equipment like the bigger screens, heated front seats, power liftgate, and adaptive cruise control.

We’re eager to learn how far this tech-forward refresh will elevate the perennial bestselling Ford Explorer in our Liberty Magazine Ultimate Car Rankings’ ultra-competitive three-row-SUV class.

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2025 Ford Explorer Specifications
Base Price $41,220
Layout Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 6-7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engines 2.3L/300-hp/310-lb-ft turbo port- and direct-injected DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/400-hp/415-lb-ft twin-turbo direct-injected DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 10-speed auto
Curb Weight 4,350-4,750 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 119.1 in
L x W x H 198.7 x 78.9 x 69.6-70.2 in
0-60 MPH 5.3-6.8 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 17-21/24-28/20-24 mpg (est)
EPA RANGE, COMB 404-430 miles (est)
On Sale Summer 2024

2025 Ford Explorer Starting at $41,220

  • HIGHS: Brawny broad-shouldered styling, available hearty V-6, new 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and software.
  • LOWS: Base engine drones, tight third-row, interior quality still trails competitors.
  • VERDICT: Long a segment mainstay, the Explorer delivers the basics but lacks the upscale touches and refined execution of the best three-row SUVs.


The 2025 Ford Explorer SUV continues its role as a suburban family shuttle with a few minor cosmetic updates and some new tech to keep things fresh. The lineup has been culled, with the Base, Limited, King Ranch, and Timberline trims exiled. (Rumor is a new, more rugged off-road oriented version is on the way to fill the void left by the departed Timberline.)

Both of the Explorer’s powertrains—a turbocharged four-cylinder and a twin-turbo V-6, each with a ten-speed automatic transmission—remain in place, as does the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. The Explorer’s strong point is its family-friendly interior and third-row functionality. While that back row is not as comfortable as in some rivals, just knowing that it’s there for when you need it buys some peace of mind. Fold it down, and it reveals a reasonable amount of cargo space.

The competition in the mid-size SUV space is intense, though, and the Explorer is now facing off against a legion of highly talented rivals, including the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and Toyota Grand Highlander—many of which offer more contemporary styling and overall refinement.

What’s New for 2025?

The lineup has been reduced to just four trims: the base Active, ST-Line, ST, and Platinum. The front fascia is mildly reworked with a new grille, headlamps, and lower air inlets, while the rear gets new taillamps. Platinum, ST, and ST-Line buyers can spec a new black-painted roof option, and, more significantly, can for the first time add the BlueCruise hands-free driving feature.

Interior updates are focused on comfort and upgraded materials and incorporate new soft-touch surfaces on the center console and door panels, and new color schemes. The 2025 Explorer is the first Ford to implement the Ford Digital Experience, a fancy name for its new software system that is designed to easily integrate a user’s favorite apps and provide native streaming and internet browsing while parked.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

The price of the 2025 Ford Explorer starts at $41,220 and goes up to $56,800 depending on the trim and options.


With the mid-level Limited model gone for 2025, we think the ST-Line makes the most sense. It has the sporty cosmetic features of the ST and keeps the standard 300-horsepower turbo four-cylinder, but it’s also nearly $11k less expensive.

It also rolls on standard 20-inch painted alloy wheels (the Active has 18s), tows the same 5000 pounds as the V-6-equipped Explorers, and opens the door to the optional BlueCruise and black painted roof, which aren’t available on the base Active. It also includes a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, a flat-bottom ST steering wheel, heated second-row seats, and power folding mirrors. We’d also add all-wheel drive for $2,000.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The base Active, ST-Line, and Platinum trims come with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated for 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The ST is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet. (All power figures are dependent on premium fuel.) A 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard, but all-wheel drive is available.

Ride and handling are composed and predictable, but drivers looking for a more engaging experience will want the Explorer ST, as its extra power and stiffer suspension make it a bona fide performance SUV. When properly equipped, the Explorer can tow up to 5000 pounds.

0–60-MPH Times

The base turbocharged 2.3-liter inline four-cylinder motivates the Explorer with a reasonable amount of authority. When we tested the Explorer with the four-cylinder engine in the now-discontinued Timberline trim in 2022, it hit 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. The lead-footed drivers among us will prefer the ST model, which is powered by a 400-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6.

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Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The thriftiest 2025 models have rear-wheel drive and the turbo four, which is rated at 21 mpg city and 28 highway; all-wheel drive drops both figures by 1 mpg. With the twin-turbo V-6, the Explorer is rated at up to 18 mpg city and 26 highway with rear-wheel drive and 18 mpg city and 24 highway with all-wheel drive. On our 75-mph highway route, the 400-hp Explorer ST earned 25 mpg, beating its EPA rating by 1 mpg.

We also tested a four-cylinder Explorer with all-wheel drive on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, where it returned 28 mpg, beating its EPA estimate by 1 mpg. For more information about the Explorer’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The Explorer’s interior design has generally favored function over form, but its comfortable cabin gets a boost for 2025 with some new interior color schemes and the incorporation of more soft-touch materials on the center console, door panels, and dashboard. A redesigned dashboard is shaped to provide front passengers with more space. Getting into the standard third row is fairly easy thanks to a mechanism that moves the second-row seat out of the way at the touch of a button.

Once back there, however, taller kids and adults will find that the seat is too close to the floor to be comfortable. Rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas provide more comfort in the third row. We managed to fit four carry-on suitcases behind the Ford’s third row, and we fit a total of 31 carry-ons with both back rows folded flat.

2025 ford explorer platinum interior

Infotainment and Connectivity

A 13.2-inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system is standard. New standard software, dubbed the Ford Digital Experience, allows drivers to access apps and services from Google and Amazon, as well as with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto through compatible devices. With the vehicle parked, it allows users to stream videos from YouTube and other providers, browse the internet, and play games via Google Play.

There are also eight USB ports – including two for third-row passengers and three 12-volt power sockets. A 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo is standard on all but the base Active Explorer

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Ford outfits every Explorer with a host of standard driver-assistance technology and offers upgrades such as self-parking assist. For more information about the Explorer’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:

  • Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross-traffic alert
  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist


Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Ford provides wholly average limited and powertrain warranties that align with most competitors’ plans. However, the company doesn’t provide the complimentary maintenance that Toyota and Chevy do.

  • Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance


Refreshed 2025 Ford Explorer Receives a Ton of Updates (Including BlueCruise)

The 2025 Ford Explorer proves that not all refreshes are created equal, as the updates to the three-row midsize SUV include an extensive reworking of the interior (up front at least), added equipment to enhance value, and the debut of an infotainment system that’s new to the Ford lineup. These changes address some of the issues that the previous Explorer faced as it tried to stay afloat in a fast-moving, hypercompetitive segment.

This is the first major update to the Explorer since a 2020 redesign that shifted the Explorer onto a rear-wheel-drive platform, as opposed to the front-drive-based setups that underpin the vast majority of the Explorer’s competitors. This gives the Ford some distinction when it comes to driving dynamics, but it also makes for more cramped quarters in the rear of the vehicle to get the packaging to work. That’s an issue that won’t be resolved without another platform change, but there’s still plenty of new content that improves the Explorer’s prospects.

For 2025, the Explorer’s trim levels have shrunk from eight to four: Active, ST-Line, Platinum and the performance-oriented ST. The base price has gone up, thanks to additional standard equipment and the elimination of the previous entry-level trim. Active models start at $41,220 (all prices include destination charges), followed by the ST-Line ($45,980) and Platinum ($53,120). That leaves the ST as the new most expensive member of the group, starting at $56,800.

2025 Ford Explorer ST front

Familiar engines underhood

Engine options remain unchanged. The base engine for most of the Explorer’s trims remains a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that makes 300 hp and a nearly matching 310 lb-ft of torque. Standard on the ST and available on the Platinum is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes a much more exciting 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque.

Rear-wheel drive is standard across the board, with all-wheel drive available. A 10-speed automatic is the only transmission option and Ford says that it has been recalibrated, but we’ll wait to render judgment on that front until we have a chance to drive the updated Explorer.

2025 Ford Explorer interior

A revamped interior

Ford has completely redone the Explorer’s dashboard, pushing it toward the hood to free up a bit more space and make the front passenger area feel much more open. (Second- and third-row passengers aren’t as lucky and their quarters remain cramped.) There’s also a pair of new standard screens: a 12.3-inch instrument cluster display and a 13.2-inch touchscreen (more on that later).

Below the screens is a new storage shelf wide enough to fit two phones. That’s also where the optional wireless charging pad resides. Interior quality seems to have improved as well, with an increased use of soft-touch materials at key touchpoints. Though things are nicer, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade still offer more luxurious interiors in this class.

2025 Ford Explorer touchscreen

Improved tech offerings

Technology represents the Explorer’s biggest addition in this refresh, and it’s the type of overhaul that would normally come along in a redesign or a brand-new model. The 2025 Explorer is the first Ford to come with the Ford Digital Experience infotainment system (another version has appeared in Lincoln vehicles). The new Android-based system makes Google Maps its native navigation application and utilizes Google Assistant for voice commands. There’s also the option to use Alexa to connect to home devices as needed.

The system offers the ability to also display Google Maps in the instrument cluster, whether it’s being used within the native system or via Android Auto/Apple CarPlay (wireless connectivity for both is also standard). And it allows access to the vehicle-specific version of the Google Play store, which also includes some Ford-specific apps like a driving game.

If the complete overhaul wasn’t enough for tech additions, Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free driving system will also be available for the first time on the Explorer. It will be running version 1.2 of the system, which offers lane change assist (automatically changes lanes if the driver bumps the turn signal stalk) and in-lane repositioning, which will subtly shift the vehicle away from vehicles in other lanes. Adaptive cruise control is also newly standard, increasing the Explorer’s value proposition.

2025 Ford Explorer interior

Liberty Magazine says

The refreshed Explorer’s upgraded materials and technology features give it fresh appeal, immediately fixing some important issues that needed to be addressed. Its cabin remains on the smaller side for this segment, so if space is a priority, some competitors will better serve you.


2025 Ford Explorer YouTube Videos

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