July 15

Ford Explorer vs Expedition, Everything You Need To Know


The Ford Explorer versus the Ford Expedition, do you know everything that you need to know? Since its inception in the 20th Century, the automotive manufacturer has produced some impressive SUVs. The aforementioned vehicles are just two examples. From the name to gas mileage and dimensions, both trucks boast similarities and significant differences. The Explorer is akin to fulfilling adventures with loose agendas, while the Expedition is more about getting serious work done with class-leading features. 

For three decades, the Ford Explorer has been in the automotive market, and is now in its sixth generation. The vehicle became the first four-door SUV produced by the company, succeeding the two-door Ford Bronco II. Within the current light truck range for Ford, the Explorer sits between the Ford Edge and Ford Expedition. 

The model year for the first Ford Expedition was 1997, and it was the first full-sized SUV introduced by Ford. Currently in its fourth generation, this vehicle succeeds the Ford Bronco, and is the largest SUV in Ford’s line up.

Which one is better? That depends on what you want from your SUV.

Explorer vs Expedition, The Similarities

There are the features the two vehicles have in common. Both are spacious, three-row, haulers equipped with a six-cylinder engine. They include Ford’s new 10-speed 10R80 SelectShift automatic transmission, which feature artificially intelligent shifting, electronic range select, and a manual shift mode. The Explorer and the Expedition are sport utility vehicles with all-season front and rear tires, and can drive about the same distance on a full tank of gas. 

These SUVs have the same safety features (ABS brakes, driver-side airbag, passenger airbag, front side airbags, curtain airbags) and the same five-star rating on NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) crash tests. Other shared safety features include a 360-degree camera with backup assist grid lines, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency, lane-keep assist, active cruise control, and BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert. 

Also alike – the SecuriLock passive anti-theft system, a remote keyless entry system, a perimeter alarm, a personal safety system, SecuriCode keyless entry keypad, and inclination and intrusion sensors. 

Other features that come standard on 2021 models for both vehicles include:

  • remote engine start
  • steering wheel controls
  • power mirrors
  • auto-off headlights
  • power door locks
  • privacy glass
  • driver power seats
  • power windows
  • second row bench seat
  • pass-through rear seat
  • parking assistance

Needless to say, there are plenty of ways these vehicles are alike. However, buyers wanting to know which is better will draw their conclusions based on differences. We’ll look at the small distinctions between the trucks first.

Explorer vs Expedition, Minor Distinctions

Sometimes car buyers stuck on a decision make their conclusions based on small differences, not major ones. There are definitely some minor things to notice between the Explorer and Expedition.

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For example, both feature seven seats, however, the Expedition has the option of adding an eight seat. The Expedition is fueled strictly with gasoline, but the Explorer can be fueled by either regular gasoline or a flex fuel (a gasoline ethanol blend). 

The vehicle dimensions are slightly different too. This is exemplified with the Ford Explorer dimensions being smaller than that of the Exhibition. 

Expedition Dimensions

Length 210 inches

Width 93.4 inches

Height 76.4 inches

Wheelbase 122.5 inches

Explorer Dimensions

Length 198.8 inches

Width 89.3 inches

Height 69.6 inches

Wheelbase 119.1 inches

Inside, the cab is slightly roomier in the Expedition than the Explorer. The former offers slightly more leg room, head room, and hip room in the front and rear seats. 

Generally, the Expedition outshines the Explorer in all other capacities as well. The payload on the Expedition is 1,770 pounds and the payload on the Explorer is 1,468 pounds. The fuel tank on the Expedition is 23.3 gallons and the fuel tank on the Explorer is 17.9 gallons. Ford Explorer gas mileage is thus somewhat lower.

The difference between the capacities of the two SUVs is about 20 percent on the fuel tank and payload. Note, some may consider this to be more than a slight difference, especially if a higher payload is needed.

Explorer vs Expedition, The Differences

More important than similarities and slight distinctions, there are a few stark differences between the vehicles worth noting.


The first difference is in the appearance of the two SUVs. The Explorer features softer, curvier body lines and a smaller body. It resembles a crossover and often gets marketed as a family vehicle. The Expedition, on the other hand, features square and hard lines; coupled with its larger height and other dimensions, it dominates over other SUVs.  

Towing Capacity

The Expedition is more of a workhorse. When equipped with Ford’s heavy-duty trailer tow package, the Ford Expedition’s towing capacity is a class-leading 9,300 pounds.

The 2021 Expedition features body-on-frame (BOF) architecture with high-strength, lightweight construction. The body is constructed from aluminum-alloy and the frame is constructed from boron steel. It’s chassis – a T3 platform – is a modified version of the platform underpinning the Ford F-150. 

Ford’s Explorer can haul up to 5,200 pounds with the standard 2.3-liter, 300-hp EcoBoost I-4 RWD engine. If you upgrade to the 3.0-liter, 400-hp EcoBoost V6 4WD engine, towing capacity increases to 5,600 pounds.

Drive Functionality

The Explorer comes standard as a rear wheel drive machine, which provides better rideability when towing, and is available as an all-wheel drive model. However, the Expedition is available only as a four-by-four or as a four-by-two drive SUV. Its drive system routes torque through a two-speed dual range transfer case with a new electronic locking rear differential. This is available to amplify the all-wheel-drive system. 

The Expedition comes standard with a twin-turbo V6 engine that produces 375 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque. Upgrading to the Platinum model increases the power to 400 hp and 480 pound-feet of torque.

Gas Mileage

The Ford Explorer’s gas mileage is more economical than the Expedition and varies depending on the trim package and other options. The base model – simply called the Explorer – offers 27 miles per gallon (mpg) on city streets and 29 mpg on highways. The base model of the Expedition – called the XL STX – offers 17 mpg on city streets and 23 mpg on highways.

The Explorer is also available as a hybrid, but the Expedition is not. The Explorer hybrid model provides 28 mpg in combined driving (city and highway). It comes equipped with a V6 engine and a hybrid system to provide 318 hp.

Available on only the Limited and Platinum trim levels, the miles per gallon on the Explorer hybrid model compared to other hybrid SUVs in its class is low. Still, the vehicle can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The final big difference between the two cars is one nobody can miss – the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the base model of the Explorer is about $33,000 and for the Expedition is $50,000. Even in the used car market, they’re retaining their value. Some car buyers have been able to find SUVs that meet their needs through online auctions. These are normally more affordable, and sometimes even more convenient.

Ford Exhibition Trim Options

The Expedition is available in nine trim options, including a MAX version of four of the trims. The Explorer is available in only seven trims. Even better, the Expedition also features more options overall.

A number of features that are called standard on the Expedition, such as the heavy-duty trailer tow package and third row seating, aren’t included on the base model. That is the XL STX. Also, the second row offers split-bench style seating and it’s not available in the MAX version. Vehicles in this version are a little larger than their non-MAX counterparts. 

XLT Trim

The XLT trim features keyless access with push-button start, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, hill start assist and hill descent control, a 4.3-inch LCD display screen, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost Twin-Turbocharged V6 gasoline engine with 375-400 hp and 470-480 pound-feet of torque.

Options on the XLT include leather-trimmed seating surfaces, heated front and rear seats, SYNC 3 infotainment system with an optional GPS navigation. There is also a power panoramic moonroof, along with heated and ventilated front bucket seats.

Expedition Limited

The Expedition Limited features wi-fi, SYNC 3 enhanced voice recognition communications and entertainment system, and a hands-free foot-activated liftgate. Also included are a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, AdvanceTrac with stability control, and BLIS with cross-traffic alert and trailer tow monitoring, and six smart-charging multimedia USB ports. There is even a wireless charging hub on the center console. 

King Ranch

The King Ranch has most of the features available on the Limited, but not as many as the Platinum. The King Ranch is distinguished by its aesthetic and prominently features the King Ranch logo on all three rows of seats, floor mats, and scuff plates. The trim on the bumpers are Stone Gray. And the power running boards, roof rails, and standard Del Rio leather seats, door trim, armrests, steering wheel, and center console only add to the look.

Expedition Platinum

The interior on the Ford Expedition Platinum features handcrafted real wood trim, real metal accents, soft-touch materials, a luxury sound system, premium diamond-quilted perforated leather, with climate-controlled and massaging seats. Also featured are soft leather wrapped dash, steering wheel, and door panels. The exterior includes several parts that are satin-finished or polished stainless steel.

Ford Explorer trim options

The base model of the Ford Explorer features Ford Co-Pilot360 driver assist technology, lane-keeping technology, and a rear-view camera with washer. Also featured are the AdvanceTrac with roll stability control, cloth seating, second-row 35/30/35 split-fold-flat bench seat, and SiriusXM radio. Other variations of the Explorer include these features and others.


The XLT features captain or bucket seats in the second-row seats, unique cloth seating, first-row heated seats, and optional SYNC with voice-activated touchscreen navigation system.

Explorer Limited

The Limited features a B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen sound system, which comes with 12 speakers. This version also includes roof rack side rails, satin aluminum with black end caps, rain-sensing wipers, trailer sway control, and numerous other options. This includes the PowerFold third-row, hill descent control, a terrain management system, and a hands-free, foot-activated liftgate. 


The Timberline offers a number of options on the Limited as standard and improves the quality of the seating material, but there is only one engine and drivetrain option. Most other trims have two options for each.

Explorer ST

The ST features a unique interior, second-row heated captain seats, an integrated key fob, intelligent access with push-button start, and universal garage door opener. This version of the Explorer also has a wireless charging pad, FordPass Connect 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, and a trailer tow package (Class III). 

King Ranch

The King Ranch model of the Explorer is similar to the King Ranch model of the Expedition. It has very similar features compared to the previous trim, but with King Ranch stylings. 


And the Platinum version features platinum-styling, including tri-diamond perforated leather seating with accent stitching.

Explorer vs Expedition, The Winner

Who wins in the fight between the Explorer and the Expedition? That answer depends on you, the car buyer. Whether you base your decision upon what’s different or what’s similar, there is an SUV out there for you. If major car dealerships prove too unreliable or too costly, know that finding an SUV through online auctions is something other buyers are doing these days.


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