2021 Ford Explorer Brings Back XLT Sport Appearance Package

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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.

Exterior:

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


Interior:

  • 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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Written by Alex Luft

Ford Authority founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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10 Comments

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  1. 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. 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.

    • Actually, if you read the reviews, it’s the interior quality of the Explorer that apparently loses out. Most people don’t even know what it means when you tell them it’s an inline 4 cylinder compared to a V6. What’s more, you seem to be under the impression that “there is no replacement for displacement”, and that seems to be the root issue here. Sure, you fluff it with other matters, but at the end of the day, that’s your problem, and it seems to be reinforced by the supporting comments. The 2.3L makes more power and gets better fuel efficiency than for instance, the Telluride you mentioned. (300ph/310lb-ft vs 291hp/262lb-ft) That’s because it’s turbocharged. Turbocharging is a form of forced induction that allows an engine to make more power than it would otherwise. People don’t have a problem with it when Porsche does it or when BMW does it, but Ford’s not allowed to, I guess. Nevermind that the 2.3 has been available in the Explorer since 2016 and even a 2.0L Ecoboost has been available for front wheel drive models since 2011. That’s the same motor from an Edge and even the Escape and Focus. Ford Numbers were outselling Kia’s then, if I’m not mistaken. It seems to be missed that even the 3.5 Duratec V6 (that I myself am a huge fan of) only made 290hp/255lb-ft by comparison. That leaves the only step up in power that was ever available in the previous versions of Explorers to the 3.5 Ecoboost. That’s not a cheap motor. It made 365hp/350lb-ft. That’s better than the Kia’s numbers to be sure, but then, you realize that by the time you step up to that option, nowadays, you’d be paying for the same trim that would get you the 365hp/380lb-ft 3.0L Ecoboost V6 and there’s still room to step up to the ST engine, which as we all know makes 400hp and 415lb-ft. None of this is to even mention the Hybrid options.
      So, with that being said, can’t you just admit you’re simply under the delusion that more cylinders is the only metric a vehicle should be judged by? I can always admit Ford’s interior quality could use a step up, but explain those numbers tot he average customer and they’ll tell you they don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • 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.

  3. 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!!

  4. 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.

  5. Stalkbroker,

    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.

    • 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.

  6. 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.

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