Ford Explorer: Lineup Reduction or Glorious Come Back?


Ford promises it will return the off-road Explorer to its lineup. In the meantime, it has fallen under a reduction in trim levels.

The Ford Explorer is a mid-size SUV produced by the American Ford Motor Company since 1990. The Explorer replaced the smaller Ford Bronco II. It was the Explorer that made the SUV an extremely popular class of car. Before this, SUVs were more of a specific vehicle, not intended for everyone. With the advent of the Ford Explorer model on the roads, the situation in this segment has changed radically.

Since the production of the first car, six generations of the model have seen the light. Following the Bronco SUV, a prominent competitor to the Jeep Wrangler, the 2025 Explorer model range will be simplified, leaving just four trim levels out of eight. Cutting a lineup is a frequent practice of automakers. By reducing the number of options available, a manufacturer can focus on producing fewer models while maintaining quality control. It can also simplify the assembly process and inventory management.

To that end, Kelly Clark, Explorer chief engineer, said Ford has simplified the offering from eight to four, simplifying the choices buyers have to make. Previously, the number of Ford Explorer options available was in the hundreds, but now there will be less than forty. On the one hand, this is beneficial for Ford because it streamlines the assembly process, and on the other hand, it is good for buyers because many more features now fall into the category of standard equipment. For the 2025 model year, the Explorer lineup will consist of Active Trim (new), ST-Line, ST and Platinum. At the same time, the Active, ST-Line, and Platinum will come with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine producing 300 horsepower, while the ST will receive a 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 producing 400 horsepower. The Ford team is now placing bets on whether the Active or ST-Line will be a bestseller.

Which configurations will disappear

Some previous trim levels, including XLT and Limited, will disappear, as does the so-called “off-road Explorer” – Timberline. However, this does not mean that it will not appear soon. Ford plans to launch the off-road Explorer later this year. First, the manufacturer will focus on basic commercial trim levels. After all, the last time Timberline launched was about a year after the base Explorer was released, and it really took off.

Meanwhile, used car experts at Indy Auto Man say off-road versions have become extremely popular lately. So, it would be surprising if Ford permanently dropped this trim level from the Explorer lineup. On the contrary, there is a good chance that Ford will improve its off-road performance, and maybe even replace the Timberline name with the legendary Raptor nameplate. At least model fans can dream about it.

No limits to options

The quality of the Explorer should be given due credit. Even cars older than ten years behave quite decently and do not cause much trouble for their owners. Therefore, those who can’t find the trim they want in the new Explorer can always turn to the used car market.

Future owners need to be prepared for the fact that the chassis of this SUV requires special care. It is hard to call it too demanding, but a large mass can leave its mark on the stabilizer struts, ball joints, and shock absorbers. As with other crossovers weighing more than 4,400 lbs, it is worth being careful when replacing brake pads. Buyers should not be afraid of sky-high prices for spare parts and maintenance. Some positions can cost a pretty penny, but overall maintenance is quite democratic.

Zayd Dana
the authorZayd Dana