2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch 4WD


Often vehicle names baffle me. I'm sure I'm not alone (or maybe I am?). Explorer I get; it seems like a good name for a SUV. King Ranch? I thought I understood it - the King Ranch, comprising of 825,000 acres of Texas, is the largest ranch in the United States. I have a vision of unlimited, rugged grazing land for vast herds of cattle. So for a King Ranch vehicle (Ford applies the King Ranch name to pickups and SUVs) I would envision a rugged yet comfortable vehicle, something that wouldn't look out of place with mud and manure. I don't see the Explorer King Ranch riding the range.

It is not quite "all hat, no cattle" but maybe more downtown that home on the range. That's not to say that the Explorer couldn't cope with riding the range. I'm sure it is capable (although it might do better with more aggressive tires) to go off road, I'm just not sure too many owners are going to want to do that.

But let me get to the underlying vehicle, the Explorer. There are three engines available with four different power ratings. Starting off there is an 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder @300 hp and 310 lb-ft, a 3.3-liter hybrid V6 @ 318 hp and 322 lb-ft, and an EcoBoost 3.0-liter V6 with either 365 hp/380 lb-ft or 400 hp and 415 lb-ft. For my money you have to go with the one of the 3.0-liter EcoBoosts; I opt for the 400 horsepower because, well because it's 400 horsepower!

There are boosted engines as good as Ford's EcoBoost family but I wouldn't say there are any better. And there are definitely SUVs and pickups with more powerful engines. But there is power for power's sake and then there is power that is every day useful. 

The V6 sends its power through a 10-speed automatic out to all four wheels if required. The Intelligent four-wheel-drive decides when or if 4WD is needed. 

I think the P255/55R20 All-Season tires were chosen more for low noise and comfort that off-road use. Which tells you all you need to know about what Ford thinks will be the Explorer King Ranch's intended use. This would be the vehicle the ranch owner would take to the cattleman's club. And that's fine.

It is a luxurious ride. Comfort is its reason for existing in my opinion. I felt like a million bucks driving it. I had thought about putting the rear and middle seats down and getting some lumber for a project but I just couldn't bring myself to use the Explorer King Ranch as a truck, it would almost be abusive.

There is seating for seven; two up front, two in the middle, and three in the rear seats. There's 18.2 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat (more than enough for four carry-on bags), 47.9 cu. ft. with the rear seats down (they are power operated on the King Ranch), and a whopping 87.8 cu. ft. with the middle seats out of the way.

Rear seats up

Left side of rear seat down

You can tow up to 5,600 lbs. with the 400 horse 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6. This engine is rated at 24-mpg highway and 18-mpg city.

Make no mistake, the Explorer King Ranch 4WD is not an inexpensive vehicle. The 2021 tested came in at just under $60,000. Near as I can figure from the Ford public website ford.com, the 2022 model is slightly less.

Would I recommend a Ford Explorer? Yes. Especially with the 400 h.p., 3.0-liter EcoBoost.


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