Few vehicles have had a more profound impact on the direction the auto industry has taken. The Ford Explorer is one of them, helping convince millions of motorists to move from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. Now, the automaker is rolling out a big update and while the 2025 Ford Explorer does get some design updates, much of the focus is on the new “Ford Digital Experience.”
It’s been 35 years since Ford first introduced the Explorer and a lot has happened since then. For one thing, it’s migrated from a classic, truck-like design based on a body-on-frame platform to a more aerodynamic look and a car-like unibody platform.
Meanwhile, there’ve been big changes in the sort of buyers Explorer brings in and, of late, that includes a growing number of millennials, said Ford truck marketing chief Trevor Scott, noting “We really want to lean into them.”
Plenty of tech — but off-roaders aren’t forgotten
Not so surprisingly, that means along with modest changes to both the exterior and interior, much of the focus with the 2025 Ford Explorer is on technology. The update brings the new Ford Digital Experience which includes a Google Assistant voice “valet,” as well as Amazon’s Alexa Built-In. There are larger, twin screens and a WiFi hotspot that can connect as many as 10 different mobile devices to the Internet. And the new year brings an updated version of Ford’s hands-free BlueCruise system.
While there’s plenty of new technology onboard to appeal to a generation that’s grown up with smartphones, Ford isn’t walking away from more traditional Explorer buyers. For one thing, all versions of the 2025 model will come with a standard Class III trailer hitch capable of handling up to 5,000 pounds.
And, during a background briefing, the automaker hinted that the four trim packages available at launch will later be followed by the addition of a much more robust off-roader. That’s a must these days considering growing market demand for SUVs capable of overlanding and more — reflected, among other things by the new Overtrail edition of the 2024 Lexus GX 550 which we’ve just reviewed.
Ford Digital Experience
That said, all the new technology is likely to be what the majority of new Explorer buyers focus on. And there’s plenty of it, starting with a standard 12-inch digital gauge cluster and 13-inch infotainment screen. Like key competitors, such as Toyota, Ford is moving beyond the basic voice and touch controls in the outgoing SUV, introducing a much more robust operating system dubbed the Ford Digital Experience.
Using Google technology it can handle a much wider range of plain English commands, triggered simply by saying, “Hey, Google.” And, significantly, it also integrates Amazon’s Alexa, as well as both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The display is brighter and crisper thanks to a five times more powerful processor and a 14-fold increase in graphics capabilities.
More Ford News
- Ford EV Owners Getting Free Tesla Supercharger Adapters
- Ford F-150 Lightning Switchgear Demonstrator Takes the EV Pickup to On- and Off-Road Extremes
- Ford’s New F-150 Raptor R Muscles Up at 720 HP
The 2025 Ford Explorer also will come with the automaker’s CoPilot 360 suite of advanced driver assistance systems. It includes BlueCruise which permits drivers to take hands off the wheel on more than 130,000 miles of U.S. roadways — though they need to continue to be at the ready to retake control if necessary.
BlueCruise has been updated here, among other things allowing a motorist to simply tap the turn signal stalk to overtake slower traffic. And, when passing a large truck, the system will move over slightly in its lane to give a better safety margin.
Explorer buyers can opt for a 1-year subscription to BlueCruise, though many might first take Ford up on a 90-day free trial.
Plenty of new standard features
For 2025, Ford is adding an assortment of new, standard features, starting with that Class III trailer hitch. Among 14 added standard features, buyers also will get on all models:
- Heated seats, including a 10-way power driver’s seat;
- Auto Brake Assist;
- Active Cruise Control with stop-and-go capabilities;
- A power liftgate;
- LED headlights;
- A wireless front charging pad and a place for a second phone; and
- 8 USB ports available for passengers in all three rows.
There will be two available powertrains for the 2025 Explorer, starting with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo engine making 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
The upgrade is a 3.0-liter EcoBoost package making 400 hp and 415 lb-ft.
As for that mystery trim package to come, Ford officials are billing it as “the most powerful Explorer” ever to be introduced.
Exterior, interior updates
Ford did make some modest tweaks to both exterior and interior design, though it would take a keen eye to spot most of them.
There are new grilles — plural, one for each trim package. And there are subtle revisions to the head and taillamps reflecting their shift to LED technology.
Inside, a key goal “was to provide a warm and inviting space,” with more soft-touch materials and new color combinations, said designer Paul Mutter.
Explorer comes standard with a fabric-wrapped soundbar built into the instrument panel, but audiophiles might consider upgrading to a 980-watt B&O system.
Pricing and availability
Ford has built about 8 million Explorers during the past 35 years, with 3.5 million of them still on the road, the automaker claims.
As has been the case for a number of years, the 2025 Ford Explorer will continue rolling out of the automaker’s Chicago Assembly Plant. The order banks are now open, with deliveries expected to start during the second quarter of this year.
Look for the new Explorer to start at $41,220 — including delivery fees.