A few visual enhancements might help the slow-selling SUV find new buyers.
Ford has another Explorer upgrade coming later this year, this time focusing on the XLT model. A new Sport Appearance Package will be offered that adds a visual punch to the company’s bread-and-butter SUV, but as the title says, it’s strictly for looks. Those seeking a more visceral Explorer experience will need to stick with the ST, which Ford says accounts for 20 percent of all Explorer sales right now.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Ford Explorer
As for the new package, the dressed-up Explorer XLT will obviously gain a new set of wheels. The 20-inchers will wear a Carbonized Gray finish that’s also shared with the grille in front. Skid plates are added along with hood lettering, and at the back, you’ll find dual chrome exhaust tips. Moving inside, the new appearance package adds two-tone seats with accent stitching, along with a matching theme for the center console lid and door panels.
Gallery: 2021 Ford Explorer ST And XLT Sport
“Our Sport Appearance Package offers a new styling dimension for Explorer XLT customers,” said Ford SUV Marketing Manager Craig Patterson. “It has always been a favorite among our younger customers looking for a more energetic design and feel at a great value.”
Speaking of young customers, Ford is keen to say that 18 percent of its new Explorer buyers are in the 18- to 35-year-old demographic. If you apply that to 2019 sales figures, it means the Blue Oval sold just over 30,000 Explorers to younger customers. The core group, however, is still the older 36 to 55 crowd which accounts for 46 percent of sales.
Regardless of the demographic, Ford is likely in the process of pulling new levers to spur Explorer sales for all age groups. Despite launching a completely new SUV for the 2020 model year, sales dropped a full 26 percent last year. We suspect that’s a worrying statistic for executives in Dearborn, and as such, it’s possible we’ll see more special Explorer packages through the year if sales don’t rebound. As it stands, the new appearance package won’t arrive until summer for the 2021 model year.
FORD PERFORMANCE EXPLORER ST SCORES WITH NEW CUSTOMERS; POPULAR XLT SPORT APPEARANCE PACKAGE RETURNING THIS SUMMER
- Explorer ST, the most powerful Ford Explorer ever, is beating sales expectations comprising more than one in five Explorer retail sales and attracting trade-ins from luxury brand customers
- New XLT Sport Appearance Package debuts this summer giving 2021 Explorer XLT a more upscale appearance including premium wheels, premium ActiveX seating and door surfaces, and satin silver interior surfaces; 2020 Explorer XLT customers can now opt for enhanced satin silver dash and door details
- Ford Explorer is America’s all-time best-selling SUV*, according to Ford analysis of new vehicle registration data from IHS Markit. Explorer celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and this month the 8 millionth Explorer will be purchased by a customer
DETROIT, Feb. 4, 2020 – The 400-horsepower Ford Explorer ST -- proving there is a growing market for performance SUVs – is surpassing sales expectations and attracting new customers trading-in luxury brand vehicles.
Explorer ST is accounting for 21 percent of overall Explorer sales, with nearly 28 percent of non-Ford trade-ins coming from luxury brands. In addition, Explorer ST is helping Explorer retain its title as America’s all-time best-selling SUV, according to Ford analysis of new light vehicle registration data from IHS Markit.
“Ford ST stands for performance for enthusiasts, and Explorer ST is no exception,” said Craig Patterson, Ford SUV marketing manager. “We believe once drivers feel the power and refinement of our first-ever Explorer ST, performance bred from racetracks around the world, demand will only grow stronger.”
Redesigned from the ground up for 2020, Explorer’s rear-wheel-drive architecture enables a sportier, more athletic design, improved on- and off-road capability, and 600 pounds more in maximum towing capacity when equipped the trailer tow package and the available 3.0-liter EcoBoost® engine, which makes this the most powerful Explorer ever. Customers can now opt for enhanced dash and door details, including satin silver accents and richer surfaces for the instrument panel, steering wheel and switches.
Explorer XLT Sport Appearance Package returns
Ford is adding a new XLT Sport Appearance Package this summer for the 2021 Explorer, featuring unique Carbonized Gray-painted 20-inch wheels with matching grille, skid plates and hood lettering, and finished with dual chrome exhaust tips.
Interior highlights include unique ActiveX Light Slate two-tone seats with accent stitching, matching the center console lid and door trim panels. Previous offerings of this popular appearance package accounted for one of every four Explorer XLT models sold and returns as more young SUV buyers are entering the showroom.
“Our Sport Appearance Package offers a new styling dimension for Explorer XLT customers,” said Patterson. “It has always been a favorite among our younger customers looking for a more energetic design and feel at a great value.”
Happy 30th anniversary and 8-millionth Ford Explorer sold
Ford Explorer celebrates 30 years, retaining America’s all-time best-selling SUV title. Ford also sold its 8 millionth Explorer in January – a milestone no other SUV can claim. Ford innovated with its highly capable, family-oriented 4x4 featuring four doors and plenty of cargo room in 1990, redefining the sport utility segment.
“Ford changed the game three decades ago with the civilized, all-purpose utility vehicle refined with easy-to-use electronic 4x4 controls and luxury packages like the Eddie Bauer edition,” said Patterson. “Families flocked to the new platform, leaving their boring minivans behind – and we’re seeing history repeat itself all over again.”
The trend continues as Ford Explorer remains a strong choice for young adults. Eighteen percent of new Explorer buyers are 18 to 35 years old, while 46 percent are 36 to 55 years old, marking a strong new chapter for the adventure-ready Ford Explorer.
Note: Horsepower rating based on premium fuel per SAE J1349® standard. Individual customer results may vary.