By on April 8, 2021


The 2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST has the same 3.0-liter, 400 horsepower EcoBoost engine, with 415 lb-ft of torque, just like the Explorer ST. What it also has is a lower starting price, $49,995.

Ford made this happen was by creating a new Standard Equipment Group for the ST, combining the engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and sport-tuned suspension. 143 MPH is where the Enthusiast ST tops out, faster than any at this price. Also standard is a trailer towing package good to 5,600 pounds, neither of which we could test.

The Explorer Enthusiast ST has leather seats, a digital dash cluster, and a heated sports-style steering wheel. ST logos on the seats and the steering wheel are included at no extra cost, along with chrome exhaust tips, 20-inch wheels, and sideview mirrors with ST lamps. Ford ‘who’s my’ Co-Pilot360 technology provides blind spot information, cross-traffic alerts, and a keep-it-in-your lane nanny. Flush tech goodness, you get hill start assist, auto headlamps that’ll still blind oncoming traffic, and emergency braking that detects pedestrians even before they decide to cross the street.

Then there’s forward collision warning, and post-impact braking. Post-impact braking senses when to hit the binders hard. Rear-ended on I-880 in the Bay Area years ago, I had room in front of me to allow my car to roll forward. It wasn’t until I was about to hit the car in front of me that I applied the brakes. Why forward collision warning, versus a rearward warning that another car is about to hit you? Wouldn’t it be better if it judged the approaching speed of another vehicle and the distance between yours and theirs?

Ford has two more models, the Platinum with the same engine and rear-wheel-drive, and a Platinum Hybrid. The Platinum RWD is a bargain if you don’t need 4WD, although Ford didn’t give us this price. They did say the full hybrid-electric Platinum Hybrid starts at $53,085.

All three new models, the Enthusiast ST, Platinum RWD, and Platinum Hybrid, can be ordered now. Why wait until deliveries begin this summer?

[Image: Ford]

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24 Comments on “2021 Ford Explorer Enthusiast ST – More For Less...”

  • avatar

    50 large for an Explorer.

    I had no idea.

    I m out.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah it’s wild. But 50K is just the starting price of fullsize SUVs. Automakers have realized most Americans can’t pilot fullsize trucks, especially as they age. If it’s body-on-frame, has available 2-speed 4WD, decent towing, big power, etc, automakers know they can get real money for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      It’s nothing new. I saw a new 2015 Explorer in the dealer’s showroom in January of 2015 for about $51,000.

    • 0 avatar

      True, but at least this thing is legitimately quick.

      • 0 avatar

        And rides on a proper RWD platform, arguably the best one out of its segment.
        And I can bet, like most D3 vehicles, you can get a juicy rebate on top of the MSRP.
        I don’t have the use for a 3rd row CUV, but if I was on the market and had the budget, the Explorer would be on my list

  • avatar

    “the Platinum with the same engine and rear-wheel-drive”

    Make a RWD ST you cowards.

  • avatar

    “Why forward collision warning, versus a rearward warning that another car is about to hit you? Wouldn’t it be better if it judged the approaching speed of another vehicle and the distance between yours and theirs?”

    I can’t tell if I’m missing sarcasm here, but this kind of system would be useless in most cases (if you’re stopped in traffic and someone is going to rear end you, you aren’t likely to be able to get out of the way in time anyways) but a constant annoyance of false alarms when faster cars approach behind you on the highway.

  • avatar

    Pathetic automatic scum. eNThuSiaSt eDiTiON

    “Ford made this happen was by creating a new Standard”

    New cars are garbage and car mags are right there with them.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      IBx1… an earthy comment that I probably wouldn’t have put that way. But, when one gets right down to it, you’re right. A pity… but it’s the world we live in.

    • 0 avatar

      I might have put it differently too but yeah, calling this vehicle an.enthusiast vehicle is a joke. It is really just a low budget luxury SUV, with low budget being defined in the context of luxury SUVs with a lot of HP. The Germans charge you six figures, though they give you more horsepower.

  • avatar

    I’ll be interested when there’s $8000 on the hood of the base RWD model.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I’m right there with you. But, in the meantime, I just discovered that Ford will allow you to custom order your Explorer – and other models – on the internet. That’s a move in the right direction – and something that should have happened for most vehicles 20 years ago.

  • avatar

    Re forward collision warning.
    More likely an assumption everyone will have it,so no need to worry about the rear hit.

  • avatar

    So…they dropped the price by adding an engine and an equipment package? No, they removed some stuff that was standard on last year’s model.

    “Ford made this happen was by creating a new Standard Equipment Group…”
    “Flush tech goodness, you get hill start assist…”
    “The Platinum RWD is a bargain if you don’t need 4WD, although Ford didn’t give us this price.”

    Oy vey. If you want to read a version of this same story that makes more sense, try C/D.

    • 0 avatar

      FreedMike, I totally agree. Sakurai’s snark in every single article makes them difficult to read. I realize that the alternative could be that they read like the manufacturer’s press release, but I also read an article about this vehicle on another site to actually get the information from.

  • avatar

    I kinda wonder how a base GV80 would compare in terms of ride and build quality. Sure, the base is only 300hp but I’ve seen them listed new for under $50K. I’m not a H/K fan. In fact I feel they are often under engineered where it counts but this new Genesis model has me intrigued.

  • avatar

    This is a CUV, the mule of cars, not something that will be fun to drive just because you put 400 horsepower in it. For this price, I’d rather have the Explorer Limited Hybrid with more feature content and more fuel economy. Unfortunately for Ford, I’d even more rather have a lightly used outgoing-generation Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Advance, which has a vastly nicer interior and more feature content, and (given Ford quality of late) probably a pretty similar expected life.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, it is RWD, right? Not some FWD CUV attaches to some crappy CVT tranny.

      • 0 avatar

        It is RWD, but it is still a tall vehicle that weighs 2 1/2 tons. You can make it a bit faster by adding turbos but you can’t make it fun to drive.

        • 0 avatar

          More power makes just about everything more fun to drive. It might not handle like a Miata, but all else equal, I’m taking the more powerful version 99% of the time.

          • 0 avatar

            With this particular product, the ability to idle with the engine off and the climate control on (which the Hybrid can do) would improve my quality of life more than the power difference between the NA 3.3 hybrid and 3.0T powertrains. YMMV.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    It’s a shame that, instead of addressing the major quality issues that continue to plague the absolute garbage vehicles that come out of Chicago, Ford slightly decontents a Explorer Sanitary Towel and sells it as some sort of amazing value that’s still over $50k.

    This company is a ship without a rudder.

    For $50-$55k you can get far more capable and reliable vehicles. Heck for LESS you can get far higher quality and far more reliable vehicles with more options to boot (Telluride/Palisade).

  • avatar

    These things aren’t supposed to be “fun”, they re just “Funner.”
    What i mean by that, is they re funner then whatever else you were going to buy.
    Such as a sienna, pilot, or acadia.
    Hell yeah id take the twin turbos and sport suspension tuning over the alternatives. If i was looking for “funner.”

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