The 2025 Ford Explorer Just Got a Subtle, Modern Makeover

The SUV that gave us freedom from the minivan is now even more liberating. The 2025 Ford Explorer adds top new tech, elegant details and a simplified lineup.

Me With The 2025 Ford Explorer
Me with the 2025 Ford Explorer. Photo: Scotty Reiss

And Its New Tech System Will Wow You

Nearly 35 years ago families met the delight of a 3-row SUV: Ford Explorer, the original. Suddenly, there was an answer to the minivan; we could carpool, tow our boats and trailers and road trip all in one capable SUV.

Life hasn’t been the same since.

So it was fun to get a peek at the 2025 Ford Explorer, which goes on sale in mid-2024 (prices have not yet been announced). It was re-tooled in just the right places with just the right details, but still keeping the things that we know and love about this mid-size — yes, it’s not overly large — 3-row SUV.

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The Button For The Liftgate Is Under The R

The button for the liftgate is under the R. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s New for 2025?

On first glance, Explorer fans may not see a lot of differences. Like the perfect facelift, it looks like itself, though just a bit fresher.

The front end still features sleek headlights and a mesh grille, though the Explorer name is spelled out across the hood. The rear end is framed by new tail lights, and the Explorer name is spelled out across the gate, matching the hood.

Bigger changes are found inside with a new interior, new materials, and new technology. Ford kept some things the same; the interior space and seating configurations are the same, and the engines are the same. But the company added to the list of standard features and, most importantly, simplified the lineup to make decisions much easier.

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The Rear Of The 2025 Ford Explorer Please Pardon The Cords That Are Powering It

The rear of the 2025 Ford Explorer; please pardon the cords that are powering it. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A New Simplified Lineup

The Explorer now comes in 4 trims — down from 8. Adventure is the base model; ST Line is the next step up; ST is the more powerful sport trim, and Platinum is top of the line.

The Adventure and ST Line models come with unique grilles, leatherette and cloth interiors, and a 2.3L 4-cylinder turbo engine that generates 300 horsepower, a good amount of power for an SUV this size. The ST comes with a performance interior, a distinct grille, and a 3.5-cylinder turbo engine that puts out 400 HP. Platinum buyers have their choice of either engine and a choice of Luxury or Sanctuary leather upholstery. All models are rear-wheel drive with the option of AWD.

From there, standard features include:

  • Heated power front seats
  • 13” multimedia touchscreen
  • Google operating system
  • 12” driver display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 8 USB ports, including 2 in 3rd row
  • 3 12V outlets, including a household outlet
  • Ford CoPilot 360 driver assist and safety system
  • Trailer tow package
  • Rear-wheel drive is standard, and 4WD is available
  • Blue Cruise hands-free driving (all but Adventure trim) with a free 3-month subscription
The View From The Drivers Seat In The 2025 Ford Explorer

The view from the driver’s seat in the 2025 Ford Explorer. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A New Approach to Tech

The multimedia screen seemed huge when the Ford rolled out the current Explorer. Then, all screens grew in size and function. For 2025, Ford added a lot of new features to the system, including a Google operating system with voice activation; just say “Hey Google,” and the assistant is there to set navigation, change the cabin temperature, or turn on your heated seats. Isn’t that nice?

Of course, you can still use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Alexa is built in, and additional apps, including video games and YouTube streaming, can be viewed when the car is parked.

The new driver display is crisp and easy to use, too, and it’s all surrounded by new materials, including a cloth cover that spans the dashboard. I liked how this detail softens the cabin, but it’s even more interesting: the cloth-covered dash is a sound bar that hides B&O speakers behind it.

The touch screen features a fixed toolbar at the bottom for climate controls, and under that are air vents and quick access buttons for radio volume, auto start/stop, and the exterior camera system.

The Drop Zone In The 2025 Ford Explorer

The ‘drop zone’ in the 2025 Ford Explorer features cup holders, a phone cubby, and easy-to-reach buttons and a touch screen. Photo: Scotty Reiss

I Really Love This: A Drop Zone!

Ford calls the center console and phone cubby the ‘drop zone,’ where you can drop your phone, keys, lip balm, and more. Below the phone cubby— which fits two phones and charges one — is a retractable cover with two USB ports and a 12V outlet. The center console also features the dial gear selector, cup holders, and the parking brake. This ‘zone’ has a lot of space and function.

Me In The 3Rd Row Of The 2025 Ford Explorer

Me in the 3rd row of the 2025 Ford Explorer, pointing out the air vents in the ceiling – there are 4. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Same Good Passenger Space

This is what Explorer fans have loved through all these 35 years: Flexible seating for 6 or 7 passengers. The Explorer still has 2 or 3 seats in the center row and 2 seats in the 3rd row. There are 4 full LATCH sets— lower anchors in all the outboard seats and upper tethers in all rear seats. A rear-facing child car seat will easily fit behind the front passenger seat and in the middle seat in the center row; drivers with two rear-facing car seats in the two center-row outboard seats, however, won’t be able to access the 3rd row without taking those seats out.

Will 3 car seats fit across the center bench? Yes, they will if they are slender enough. This is a car seat question, not a car question, in this case.

While this SUV does seat 6 or 7, keep in mind that the 3rd row is on the small side, and it’s low, with seats only a few inches from the floor. Ford says it has 32” of legroom, but that would be with center seats pushed forward quite a bit. I climbed into the 3rd row and needed to push the center seat forward to fit my knees behind it. However, with the captains chairs pass-through, I could get comfortable. I would consider this a convenience row more than a full-time use 3rd row.

A Rendering Of The Ford Explorer On The Windshield Is A Nice Touch

A rendering of the Ford Explorer on the windshield is a nice touch. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Style and Function Without Sacrifice

Explorer has always been a family favorite, and it’s clear why; with ample power, even from the smaller engine, 5,000 lbs. of towing, and now for 2025, more elegant interior details, and top-notch tech, it has a modern look, feel, and function. Add the options of all-wheel drive and a panoramic sunroof, and it becomes the chic, capable SUV that preserves our sense of self while letting us haul our kids around, too.

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss