The 2025 Ford Explorer lineup is smaller than before, but all models receive restyled front ends, new-look interiors, and a host of tech-centric upgrades.
Every Explorer now has a fully digital gauge cluster and a better infotainment system with Google's voice assistant and apps to stream videos and play video games.
Ford's mid-size SUV is mechanically unchanged, but it has more standard features, and the BlueCruise hands-free driving system is available for the first time.
The Ford Explorer deserves a lot of credit—or blame, depending on whom you ask—for helping create the American public's insatiable appetite for sport-utility vehicles, better known as SUVs.
The original Explorer debuted for the 1991 model year, and the adventurous-sounding nameplate has been in production ever since, with the most recent generation having returned to its rear-wheel-drive roots for 2020. While its platform, powertrains, and most body panels remain the same, the 2025 Ford Explorer receives what's known in the biz as a mid-cycle refresh. Along with a streamlined lineup, Ford's mid-size SUV features new faces, a redesigned interior, and significantly improved technology.
The New Explorer Lineup
For 2025, Ford makes the the Explorer family smaller in an attempt to reduce complexity, which the company believes will help improve quality and use fewer resources. That means last year's eight-trim lineup has been pared down to four: Active, ST-Line, Platinum, and ST.
While we don't know the fate of the off-road-oriented Timberline, a Ford spokesperson told Car and Driver that the company is currently developing the "most off-road-capable Explorer," with more details to be revealed later this year. Since a Raptor version sounds like a long shot, we expect to see facelifted Timberline, possibly with more hard-core hardware.
Every new Explorer has a larger grille, new headlights, and front bumpers that mimic a skid plate and appear wider and lower than before. To help identify the initial four trims, Ford gives each a distinct grille, with the Active's black mesh design featuring chrome bars, the ST-Line and ST having gloss-black honeycomb designs and unique badges, and the Platinum mixing a wing design with black and satin chrome elements.
The Explorer's taillights have also been revised to look cooler, and now they're connected by a horizontal element that includes "Explorer" script and is partially illuminated. For the first time, customers can get a black-painted roof from the factory on all but the base model. All models now come standard with the previously optional tow package, however, their 5000-pound towing capacity is between 300 and 600 pounds less than before.
As with almost every mid-cycle refresh, there are fresh paint options and newly available wheel designs. The pretty Vapor Blue metallic is a new hue, which is available on all but the ritzy Platinum trim. The performance-minded ST introduces Magnetite-painted 21-inch wheels, which are also available on the less powerful ST-Line. That requires the Street Pack, though, which also includes upgraded brakes with red-painted calipers. Anyone who buys either ST model also can attend Ford's performance driving school, with locations in Park City, Utah, and Asheville, North Carolina, free of charge.
Ford says there aren't any notable chassis or powertrain changes to the 2025 Explorer. All models come standard with rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is optional. The Active, ST-Line, and now the Platinum have a 300-hp 2.3-liter turbo four. The ST has a 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, which is also available on the Platinum (previously it was standard). A 10-speed automatic transmission pairs with both engines, but the ST model alone has paddle shifters.
Inside the Revised Explorer
The Explorer's new dashboard is almost unrecognizable compared with last year's model. It's more than just the addition of the 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster and 13.2-inch touchscreen, which are both standard and feature an entirely new infotainment interface (more on that below).
Along with new surface material and textures, the redesigned dashboard has been pushed forward to make the front-seat area feel more spacious. There's also a handy tray that protrudes from the center stack, where the newly available dual wireless charging pads live. Ford says the seats on lower trims have been revised to be more comfortable, and there are multiple new interior color schemes available across the lineup.
While we don't love the piano-black trim that's featured on the Platinum's revised center console, we appreciate that lower-spec models have a matte finish that's less prone to getting scratched. Every Explorer also has a soundbar-like element baked into the dashboard that hides the stereo's speakers; fancier trims have a more premium B&O system.
As mentioned above, the two large displays are standard. While they're based on Google's Android Automotive operating system, Ford says all the software development was done in-house, and both screens run on a single module for the first time. Also new is the ability to have a map view in the gauge cluster, as previously only turn-by-turn directions were offered. However, the map can only be viewed when an active route is set.
With voice controls becoming more widely accepted due to the proliferation of Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google Assistant, Ford's infotainment system—called the Ford Digital Experience—follows suit. While Google's software is the default setting, Alexa can also be used for in-car controls. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard for the majority of us who prefer to operate through our smartphones.
Among the many new connectivity features, Explorer owners have access to nearly countless apps through the Google Play store. When the vehicle is parked, they can stream videos on YouTube and Amazon Prime. They can also surf the web using the Vivaldi browser (Google Chrome is on the way), and there are an assortment of available video games that can be played with a Bluetooth-connected controller.
The Explorer is the first Ford to get this improved infotainment system, which also enables over-the-air updates. To get the full experience, customers will need to subscribe to the Ford Premium Plan that includes a 5G connection (the first year is free); a Wi-Fi hotspot is available too.
Ford's BlueCruise hands-free driving system is also now available on the 2025 Explorer. It's not offered on the entry-level Active trim, but it can be activated on the rest. BlueCruise can be had for $700 at the time of purchase, otherwise customers can opt for a 90-day free trial. After that, they'll have to choose between an $800 annual plan or pay $75 per month. Every Explorer comes with a host of driver-assistance tech, from adaptive cruise control to blind-spot monitoring to lane-keeping assist.
The 2025 Ford Explorer is currently available to order, and models are slated to hit dealer lots sometime between the spring and summer months. The Active starts at $41,220, the ST-Line starts at $45,980, the Platinum starts at $53,120, and the ST starts at $56,800. While Ford hasn't yet confirmed pricing for most options, we expect all-wheel drive to add $2000 like last year.
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