2025 Ford Explorer debuts with fresh face, new tech and simplified lineup

2025 Ford Explorer debuts with fresh face, new tech and simplified lineup

The 2025 Ford Explorer is this generation’s first big refresh, and it brings changes to the exterior design, big tech upgrades and some familiar powertrain options.

From the outside, the 2025 Explorer differentiates itself with a much larger grille (each trim gets its own style), sleeker LED headlights and wider air curtains in the front bumper. The rear liftgate is redesigned, too, featuring sharp new LED taillights and a horizontal “Explorer” badge that sprawls across the rear. New wheel designs in 18-21-inch options are added to the roster, and Vapor Blue Metallic paint pictured first in the gallery above is added to the available color options.

Powertrain options look the same on paper as in 2024. However, Ford says the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that comes standard is largely new and is nearly the same powertrain as what finds its way under the hood of the Mustang, though it has the same output as before at 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is paired with the sporty ST model or optional on the top-line Platinum trim, and its output is also the same as before at 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. Ford says the 10-speed automatic transmission is re-tuned for 2025 to be smoother than before, and while rear-wheel drive is standard on every trim, all-wheel drive is available across the board. One powertrain option missing for 2025 is the Hybrid model, which Ford actually canceled for 2024. Ford tells us that it’s reserving the Explorer Hybrid for its police Interceptor cars because it’s so popular with law enforcement. And as for the chassis and suspension, Ford says it’s largely carryover but tells us that it’s made small refinement changes.

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Also on the topic of what’s missing for 2025 are some of the Explorer’s unique trim offerings like the King Ranch and Timberline. The XLT is also gone, leaving us with just these four as the trims available for 2025: Active (new base), ST-Line, ST and Platinum. That said, Ford teased us with a photo of a wheel featuring yellow-gold accents that looks a whole lot like the color used on its Tremor off-road models. That would explain the absence of the Timberline trim and would likely mean even better off-road capability than before. We’re told to sit tight and wait for news on this model later in the year.

Where Ford put most of its attention for this refresh is the Explorer’s interior. Instead of two different dash layouts – one with a portrait screen and the other a landscape – it’s redesigned the whole dash and center stack for just one single look. Now, every 2025 Explorer will come with a 13.2-inch wide-format touchscreen infotainment that can run wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and uses Google Built-In software. Ford is calling it the “Ford Digital Experience,” and first impressions are good.

The infotainment works in tandem with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. Since the car’s native navigation system is Google Maps, you can have your navigation display in the cluster, but Ford takes it a step further than what we’re accustomed to here. If you have your phone connected to the car via Apple CarPlay, you can choose to display Apple Maps in the cluster instead. When you’re parked, you can switch over to the main infotainment and use it for web surfing, YouTube, Prime Video and video games like Asphalt Nitro 2. Ford connected a PS5 controller and let us try the racing game out for a minute at its backgrounder event – it’s a pretty party trick. This new infotainment can handle over-the-air updates and runs via 5G wireless connectivity, though you’ll need to shell out cash over time to keep using all of these neat features after the one-year complimentary period is up.

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Blue Cruise comes equipped as standard to ST-Line (pictured just below), ST and Platinum trims, but you only get a 90-day free trial before you’ll need to pay for it. Ford says the first year is $700, with every year after an additional $800. This is also Ford’s latest version of Blue Cruise, which automatically changes lanes for you and can reposition the vehicle in its lane further away from vehicles in nearby lanes.

Beyond the tech, the Explorer’s interior is a good bit more airy and open feeling thanks to the dash being pushed forward. More soft-touch materials are used throughout, and new colors/trims join the party to give it a fresh look. We’ll note that a whole lot of buttons are now missing, and you’ll find most of those functions tucked into the infotainment system. Just below the main row of toggles and volume knob (we’re glad that’s still around) is a new tray for storage that contains a wireless phone charger. 

The ST makes do with the same mechanical setup as before, but it gets some neat additional appearance add-ons like an optional black-painted roof, 21-inch Magnetite-painted wheels and especially neat-looking new seats with a white “ST” showing through the mesh of the seatback. If you purchase either the ST or the ST-Line, you’re able to go to Ford Performance’s SUV racing school in Utah or North Carolina for free, too.

And if you just want a 2025 Explorer in general, you should know that ordering starts today. The new base price is $41,220, including destination, which is $2,120 more than before. That said, there’s more standard equipment on this new Explorer than before, and Ford also says it’s greatly reduced the number of options, instead choosing to group them together in packages and trims. The first vehicles are expected to hit dealerships in the second quarter of this year.

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