Ford Authority

Ford Explorer Leads Segment In Sales During Q1 2021

Ford Explorer sales increased in the United States and Mexico while decreasing in Canada during the first quarter of 2021.

Ford Explorer Sales - Q1 2021 - United States

In the United States, Ford Explorer deliveries totaled 65,244 units in Q1 2021, an increase of about 16 percent compared to 56,310 units sold in Q1 2020.
MODEL Q1 2021 / Q1 2020 Q1 2021 Q1 2020
EXPLORER +15.87% 65,244 56,310

Ford Explorer Sales - Q1 2021 - Canada

In Canada, Ford Explorer deliveries totaled 3,585 units in Q1 2021, a decrease of about 4 percent compared to 3,733 units sold in Q1 2020.
MODEL Q1 2021 / Q1 2020 Q1 2021 Q1 2020
EXPLORER -3.96% 3,585 3,733

Ford Explorer Sales - Q1 2021 - Mexico

In Mexico, Ford Explorer deliveries totaled 318 units in Q1 2021, an increase of about 308 percent compared to 78 units sold in Q1 2020.
MODEL Q1 2021 / Q1 2020 Q1 2021 Q1 2020
EXPLORER +307.69% 318 78

Competitive Sales Comparison (USA)

Ford Explorer sales rose 16 percent to 65,244 units during the first quarter of 2021 in the United States. The 16 percent increase in sales moves the three-row crossover to first place in its segment by sales volume, outselling the Toyota Highlander by 1,413 units.

As such, the Explorer outsold the remainder of the segment contenders, including the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas (see VW Atlas sales), Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Dodge Durango, Subaru Ascent, Nissan Pathfinder, and the Mazda CX-9.

Sales Numbers - Mainstream Large Three-Row Crossovers - Q1 2021 - United States

MODEL Q1 21 / Q1 20 Q1 21 Q1 20 Q1 21 SHARE Q1 20 SHARE
FORD EXPLORER +15.87% 65,244 56,310 20% 21%
TOYOTA HIGHLANDER +33.29% 63,831 47,890 20% 18%
CHEVROLET TRAVERSE +26.39% 38,037 30,095 12% 11%
HONDA PILOT +31.61% 31,451 23,898 10% 9%
VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS +98.09% 30,520 15,407 9% 6%
KIA TELLURIDE +29.88% 21,854 16,826 7% 6%
HYUNDAI PALISADE +29.84% 21,207 16,333 7% 6%
DODGE DURANGO +15.47% 20,560 17,805 6% 7%
SUBARU ASCENT -7.37% 14,473 15,624 4% 6%
NISSAN PATHFINDER -50.78% 8,905 18,092 3% 7%
MAZDA CX-9 +30.02% 9,386 7,219 3% 3%
TOTAL +22.59% 325,468 265,499

The Explorer and Highlander held 20 percent share each, ahead of the 12 percent held by the third-place Traverse and 10 percent held by the Pilot. All other models each accounted for 9 percent or less of the segment share.

The three-row, large crossover segment expanded nearly 23 percent to 325,468 units in Q1 2021. In other words, the Explorer grew at a similar pace to the segment average. The majority of models posted higher increases than the Ford Explorer, such as the Volkswagen Atlas with a 98 percent increase, the Toyota Highlander with a 33 percent increase, and the Honda Pilot with a 32 percent increase.

For informational and comparative purposes, we are also providing sales figures for midsize SUV models that overlap with large crossover SUVs like the Explorer – either in price, seating capacity, or both. Despite the fact that these models are physically smaller than the Explorer and its direct rivals, they are often cross-shopped. These overlapping vehicles include:

  • Midsize crossovers that offer three rows of seating, such as the GMC Acadia (see GMC Acadia sales), Kia Sorento, and Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Midsize crossovers with two rows of seating sold at a similar price point to the Explorer, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Chevrolet Blazer, and Hyundai Santa Fe

Sales Numbers - Overlapping Crossover Sales - Q1 2021 - United States

MODEL Q1 21 / Q1 20 Q1 21 Q1 20
JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE +10.21% 55,198 50,083
HYUNDAI SANTA FE +38.30% 28,570 20,658
FORD EDGE -25.17% 22,150 29,599
GMC ACADIA +12.84% 19,956 17,686
KIA SORENTO +9.24% 19,724 18,055
CHEVROLET BLAZER -13.00% 19,265 22,144
NISSAN MURANO -26.53% 11,523 15,683
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER -67.94% 4,106 12,809

The Ford Authority Take

Following a rocky launch of the all-new model, which debuted for the 2020 model year, Ford Explorer sales have finally taken off, reporting a 29 percent increase in Q4 2020, an 87 percent jump during Q3 2020, and a 27 percent increase during Q2 2020. This is great news, especially given the substantial loss in sales opportunities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Q1 2021, the majority of the segment followed a similar trend while some models posted significant decreases, likely due to availability constrictions. Overall, Explorer sales were in line with the segment as a whole. Additionally, the Explorer was one of nine models to post a positive sales performance in Q1 2021 in light of the pandemic. We attribute the jump in Ford Explorer sales during Q1 to significantly improved availability of the all-new model as well as interest in the crossover.

It’s worth noting that competition in the space is heating up as two competing models – the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride – showed strong gains during Q1. Combined, the Kia and Hyundai accounted for over 43,000 units, which is roughly 22,200 units shy of Explorer sales. The results are very impressive for the two new entrants, given that both Hyundai and Kia were almost non-existent in this segment 24 months ago.

Another rival that will add competitive pressure to the Explorer is GM’s Chevrolet Traverse, which will receive a refresh for the 2022 model year. Meanwhile, FCA will launch the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2022. The popular Jeep nameplate will add a three-row variant for this go-round, dubbed the Grand Cherokee L, which will compete directly with the Explorer.

About The Numbers

  • All percent change figures compared to Ford Explorer sales for Q1 2020, unless noted otherwise
  • In the United States, there were 74 selling days in Q1 2021 and 76 selling days in Q1 2020
  • For Explorer sales figures are comprised of the Ford Explorer and its police-duty variant, the Ford Police Interceptor Utility. In previous quarters, Police Interceptor Utility sales were reported as a separate line item, but Ford is now folding its sales into the Explorer line item.

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Ford Motor Company Q1 2021 sales reports:

Explorer News

Frankie's first favorite car was a 1968 Ford Mustang, and he's had a strong appreciation for the nameplate ever since. Later in his youth he became infatuated with Eleanor, thanks to Nicholas Cage's stellar performance. Frank's a real jokester, too.

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  1. Drew

    It’d be more enlightening to see a sales analysis of retail sales, excluding sales of fleet vehicles like Explorer’s Police Interceptor (which no competitor offers, except Durango).

    As the SUV/CUV market gets over-populated, retail sales are a better indication of product success… as failing models can be dumped into fleets (witness all the Korean and Nissan models in daily rental fleets).


    It’s amazing Ford can continue to sell so many of these lousy vehicles. Yes I have one (purchased 11/19) and was lured into it by all the hype being put out about the “totally redesigned model”. It’s easily the biggest disappointment of any new vehicle I’ve owned. And don’t just take my word for it, all the car magazines are, shall we say, not very impressed by Ford’s effort, rating several competitors much better.

  3. Drew

    Tim, I’m hanging on to your continued explanation as to why you are so disappointed with your Escape….


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