Ford Authority

2021 Ford Explorer Brings Back XLT Sport Appearance Package

The 2021 Ford Explorer is bringing back the XLT Sport Appearance Package. Set to launch this summer, the package features various unique exterior and interior elements.


  • Unique Carbonized Gray-painted 20-inch wheels, plus matching
  • Grille
  • Skid plates
  • Hood lettering
  • Dual chrome exhaust tips


  • ActiveX Light Slate two-tone seats with accent stitching, matching
  • The center console lid and door trim panels

Ford notes that the XLT Sport Appearance Package made up one of every four Explorer XLT models in previous Explorer models, and that the package is meant to attract younger SUV buyers.

“Our Sport Appearance Package offers a new styling dimension for Explorer XLT customers,” said Craig Patterson, Ford SUV marketing manager. “It has always been a favorite among our younger customers looking for a more energetic design and feel at a great value.”

The XLT is currently the base trim level of the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer, with pricing starting at $36,675 (2020 model year). It is followed by the Limited, ST and Platinum.

Based on the Ford CD6 platform shared with the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, the all-new Explorer has had some issues related to quality and production output during its launch. Explorer sales declined nearly 15 percent to 48,083 units during the fourth quarter of 2019 and 26 percent to 168,309 units for the complete 2019 calendar year.

It’s worth noting that a decrease in sales volume is expected for the first model year of an all-new model as automakers change over production at the plant from the last-gen model to the new model, a process that takes anywhere from weeks to months, depending on the model. The changeover results in diminished supply, as the outgoing model sells out at the retail (dealer) level while the all-new models is not yet available to purchase.

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  1. trailhiker

    To me, this doesn’t look sportier, the gray looks cheap, and it accentuates the irregular shape of the grille even more. The whole front end of the new Explorer is a mess. A refresh won’t cut it, a complete redesign is needed.

  2. Raymond Andrews

    Ford, please listen loud and clear… You have to offer a V-6 option in the XLT… This is a MAJOR mistake and a problem for your customers. You are losing customers to both the Kia telluride and the Hyundai palisade in droves. Customers are not willing to pay the kind of prices you asking for the 2020 Explorer and not have a V-6 option. This, in addition to your completely out of touch pricing structure has contributed to your volume decrease. Ford Motor Company has simply lost touch with bringing value to It’s customers. That is WHY you are losing volume everywhere across your model lineup. Wake up!! The Koreans understand this, the Japanese understand this, and GM understand this. Why has what was one such a fabulous company gone astray on this simple concept ? . Customers incomes are not rising in proportion to your outrageous increase in prices. Families have limited amounts of money to spend. Once you exceed their budgetary abilities you will not sell them a vehicle no matter how great you think your products are. Sales numbers don’t lie, you are losing market share everywhere in your SUV lineup and will continue to do so until you recognize this irrefutable fact. Please don’t take what was once a great company and destroy it through arrogance.

  3. frank keel

    Mr Andrews is correct! He could not had said it better . Just passed on a 4 cylinder Ford!

    1. N Pena

      Mr Andrew, must of read my mind, I just drove the 2020 4 cyl with Ecoboost does not even come close to my current 2014 Limited Explorer power handling. The 2020 Explorer is a beast “its bigger” and the 4 cyl does not do it justice. Also drove the 2020 Platinum, it is a beast with all kinds of bell and whistles and it drove lots of power…..The price is also a beast. Therefore, I will wait till Ford comes out a V6 for a limited or XLT. I’m in no rush to buy and put myself in debt again. I’ll just stay with my still like new 2014 Limited with 94K miles for another 100k miles.

  4. Andrew Sommers

    I will third that comment by Mr. Andrews. In 2010 when I ordered my XLT I was able to order it with the 4.6 litre engine, I can’t do that now and the difference is about 16,000 dollars which is completely unacceptable and forced me to by a 2019 over a 2020. Get your act together, when the Model T price dropped they sold more not less and good old Henry made a lot more!!

  5. john

    I hate to say ,everyone is right here. I sell new Fords and most people do NOT want a 4 cyl. Explorer. Not that they don’t have the power, but the sound is wheezy. I have had people that know nothing about cars say that they liked it , but not the sound. Same in the Edge. Plus I have to say the inside of the new Fords are cheezy. On our showroom floor is a 60k Explorer, a 40k Escape , a homely 28k Ecosport and a 56k F150 XLT! The prices have gone WAY overboard and the quality has gone way down. I just hope that they don’t get greedy with the Bronco pricing. Be smart and put it below the Jeep. I love Ford , always have, but the pricing and quality have both gone wonkers.

  6. Raymond Andrews


    While I respect what you wrote, you missed the point. I was not suggesting that Ford’s I4 option is inadequate. If you looked deeper into the issue you would see and understand that many consumers have a preference at that price point for a 6 cylinder engine option on a vehicle of that size. And no I’m not referring to the larger 6 cylinder, 365 HP engine that was in the Previous Ford Explorer sport. But the standard V6 option that fits into that price point like was offered in the 2019 Explorer XLT trim level.. I’m a big fan of Ford Motor Company and I don’t want them to miss the market that exists.

    1. trailhiker

      True, I think you can not discount the average buyer’s perceptions.
      Many people believe that smaller turbocharged engines are overstressed and therefore not as reliable and more expensive to repair. Many believe you are still getting less for more.
      Offering an inexpensive V6 at a fair price makes good sense.
      I cringed when the Ford Escape build and price came out, and seeing you can’t buy one with a 4-cylinder for under $34K. The Chevy salesmen probably gave that decision a standing ovation.
      Sometimes it is all about perception.

  7. 2.7EcoboostRoost

    Too bad Ford thinks cheap plastic interiors will be overlooked by consumers on $45k and up vehicles. I don’t think the 2.3 is an issue for most. Most in this market don’t know the difference between a 4 cyl and a V-10. They just know they push the throttle and it moves. They do know that Kia and Hyundai have soft touch materials and the Explorer feels like GM plastic inside. Too bad.

  8. Justin

    I just bought a 2021 explorer sports package 4 cyl ecoboost. We freaking love it! I also own a 2015 explorer fully loaded V6 XLT. The 4 cyl ecoboost smoked my V6. They both tow my boat and camper just fine with no stress. The new explorer feels like theres nothing on the back when towing. My boat is 5000 pounds total. Captain seats are bad a** and I get nothing but compliments on both cars. Technology has come way to far to worry about engine size. If you like it. Buy it. If you can’t afford it stick with your sorry kia or Hyundai that you will never get eyes turned for lol.


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