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Owner Review: 2021 Ford Explorer ST logo 2021-11-29 Greg Williams
Wayne De Boer with his 2021 Ford Explorer. © Provided by Wayne De Boer with his 2021 Ford Explorer.
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During the summer of 2020, Reader Reviewer Wayne De Boer tested a new Ford Expedition. After a week behind the wheel, he says that vehicle would simply be too big to function as a daily driver for his Calgary family of four. “In light of that, and the price point, it just wasn’t a practical vehicle for us,” De Boer says.

But he knew their 2014 Ford Edge was becoming a tight fit when loading up for longer trips. After testing that Expedition, the family began shopping for a vehicle that would slot between it and their Edge. “We looked at the Toyota Highlander, the Hyundai Palisade, the Lincoln Aviator and the Volvo XC90,” he says. “I’m not delusional and didn’t think I’d be getting s sports car when hauling two young kids, but I did want something a bit more dynamic.”

What he eventually found was a 2021 Ford Explorer Sport. “We liked the XC90, but third row access wasn’t great,” he says, and adds, “The Explorer Sport just ticked off more boxes for me.”

What was important for De Boer? An SUV had to offer cargo carrying capacity, easy access to the entire cabin, and also be fun to drive with taut steering and decent acceleration. The Aviator was slightly more costly, while the XC90 would have met their needs, but De Boer simply preferred the driving dynamics of the Explorer ST. “It was better value, more fun to drive, and sportier than the others,” he says.

In mid-March 2021, De Boer factory ordered his Explorer ST from Metro Ford in Calgary. He opted for the $550 Star White paint, $1,500 Premium Technology Package, and the $250 roof side rails, “For practicality,” De Boer says. He passed on the sunroof (something he never used in the Edge) and the Street Package that would have upgraded the 20-inch wheels to 21-inch rims. The Street Package would have also added performance brakes with red painted calipers. In early July, De Boer took delivery of their Explorer ST, equipped with its 3.0-litre V6 EcoBoost engine that, in this trim level, is imbued with twin turbos to take horsepower from 365 to 400 hp, plus increase torque from 380 to 415 lb-ft .It’s also equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission and Ford’s Terrain Management System with Intelligent 4WD.

After spending some time in his new Explorer, De Boer admits he regrets not ticking the box on the build sheet for the Street Package. “I kind of regret that one, because I feel the base brakes could be slightly better,” he says. “But I’m still happy every time I see the Explorer and climb into it.”

 Wayne in the driver’s eat of his Explorer. © Brendan Miller/Postmedia Wayne in the driver’s eat of his Explorer.

He especially likes the look of the ST with its black grille which he says gives the Explorer more of an aggressive appearance. Looking at it in profile, he appreciates the body lines and the tapering roof as it drops to the rear. All members of his family find it easy to access the Explorer, including his four-and-a-half and two year-old sons. They can both climb into the second row captain’s seats before being buckled into their safety seats.

“For me, I feel well-supported in the bolstered seat, and the steering wheel is nice and thick,” De Boer says. “Even the LCD instrument cluster is fun to look at. And when you change the drive mode to Sport, it glows red. I’m not sure I love the tablet look of the centre screen, it’s a bit weird, but there’s tactile feedback through buttons and knobs for most controls.

“Quality control from the factory could have been a bit better, though. There were four or five interior trim pieces that weren’t properly snapped into place, for example, on some pillars and around the steering column.”

With regard to the mechanics and performance, De Boer is very pleased with the Explorer ST. “And it handles sharp, and the steering is precise,” he says.

To date, the De Boers have driven the Explorer around Calgary, and from Calgary to Leduc for a camping trip and back home. There are just over 4,000 kilometres on the vehicle. “It was great for the trip,” De Boer says. “I thought I might need to install the rooftop cargo box, but the Explorer just gobbled up our gear and I could still see out the rear view mirror.”

He’s also impressed with the power liftgate and suggests there’s ample room to carry gear in the cargo area, even with the power-operated third-row seats in the upright position. “I’ve been on some forums and see people have some concerns about the vehicle, but not me,” De Boer says, and concludes, “It makes me a happy driver, and I joke that it’s about as much fun as one can have when picking up kids from daycare.”

Other Owner’s Opinions

Writing on on May 4, 2021, an owner of the Explorer ST said: “Your money would be spent better elsewhere. The electronics are horrible in this. The radio stations don’t change and lock up all the time and Sync is slow and sporadic. The seats are not sporty and there’s very little bolster support.”

That’s contrasted by a writer posting on Sept. 9, 2021, with: “We’ve had a 2013 [Explorer] Limited which was a great vehicle LOADED with features. Then we got a 2017 Explorer Sport with all those features and twin turbo 365 hp engine. We didn’t think it could get better ‘til we drove the new Explorer ST with 400 hp and way more interior space for the family. We test drove Durango, Traverse/Acadia, and some foreign luxury 3 row SUVs. None could compete with the features for the price of the Ford.”


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