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2025 Ford Explorer SUV offers redesigned interior, hands-free highway driving, but still packs only ICE power

The 2025 Ford Explorer is ICE-only

2025 Ford Explorer Platinum and 2025 Ford Explorer ST barked on stones by lakeside with moutains in the background.
Ford / Ford

While Ford continues to support vehicle electrification with upcoming support for the NACS charging standard and a new partnership with Resideo to help EV buyers lower energy bills, Ford’s three-row midsize family SUV, the 2025 Expl0rer, is only available with internal combustion engines (ICEs). Ford Motor Company recently announced the 2025 Explorer as the best version yet, calling out the SUV’s more comfortable interior, enhanced connectivity, and increased access to Ford’s optional BlueCruise hands-free highway driving.

2025 Ford Explorer with three rows of passengers and a double sun-roof.
Ford / Ford

Why the new Explorer launch is significant

The Ford Explorer has been a popular SUV since its introduction in 1990 as a 1991 model. From 2020 to 2024, Ford offered the Explorer a hybrid V-6 engine option, which is not available for the 2025 Explorer. Although battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are the future, many automakers are hedging their bets with hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Unless Ford changes its strategy in the near future, the current plan for Ford vehicles is BEV, such as the Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning, or ICE-only, as with the new 2025 Explorer.

2025 Ford Explorer Platinum showing a light grey interior.
The 2025 Ford Explorer lineup

Ford changed the Explorer’s model lineup for 2025, decreasing from eight models in 2024 to just four for 2025. The long-familiar XLT and Limited model names are gone. The new Explorer lineup consists of the Active, ST-Line, ST, and Platinum models. All models have rear-wheel drive as the standard drive train with optional 4WD. The 2025 Explorer, which starts at $41,220, including destination and delivery fees, will be available at Ford dealerships starting in the second quarter of 2024.

2025 Ford Explorer ST parked on loose rock with forested hills in the background.

All 2025 Explorers have interiors and technology features upgraded from previous years. One of the most noticeable changes is increased space for front-seat passengers, a feat Ford accomplished by pushing the dashboard forward, which is another way of saying the dash no longer extends as far back. Ford also uses new, softer-feeling materials on the dashboard, interior door panels, and console. There’s also a sizable tray under the touchscreen and cabin controls. There are now USB ports in all three rows.

New technology features for all models include a 13.2-inch touchscreen and the Ford Digital Experience with Google Maps and Google Play. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are also onboard, with Google Assistant being the default. Google Play is included to handle streaming content. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wireless compatibility are also standard.

2025 Ford Explorer Platinum parked on a beach by a lake with mountains in the background.

Ford also announced that its BlueCruise hands-free highway driving hardware is installed in all 2025 Explorers except the base Explorer Active model. Previously, BlueCruise was available only on Explorer Platinum models. BlueCruise helps with steering, accelerating, and braking when driving on highways, but it isn’t a complete self-driving system. Using BlueCruise requires a Ford Connected Services subscription. New customers can choose a 90-day trial or activate an annual or monthly subscription.

2025 Ford Explorer ST parked on stones by a lake with forested mountains in the background
Ford / Ford

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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