Ford Finally Adds Its Wildly Popular King Ranch Trim to the 2021 Explorer

Ford is finally bringing its wildly popular upmarket King Ranch trim to the 2021 Explorer. The addition of what Ford calls “the most refined Explorer yet” marks 20 years of collaboration between the automaker and the 168-year-old Texas cattle ranch. Nowadays, it’s hard to think of the Ford F-150 without the King Ranch edition, so it only makes sense for Ford to add it to new vehicles. 

The first-ever Explorer King Ranch features a hand-stitched leather interior with mahogany-colored Del Rio leather-trimmed seats. The King Ranch’s “Running W” brand features prominently on the Explorer’s first- and second-row perforated leather seats and elsewhere throughout the interior. A Mesa Del Rio leather armrest crowns the center console up front. This is clearly the SUV you buy to really grind your vegan cousin’s gears. 

The niceties continue up front, with Sapele wood instrument panel appliqués, leather door trim rollovers, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with Norias stitching and yet more Sapele wood as an insert. 

Sharing a namesake with one of the world’s only edible casseroles is no small honor. As such, the Explorer King Ranch is available with a 14-speaker sound system from the makers of one of the best-sounding car stereos I’ve had in a test car: Bang & Olufsen. That stereo is part of the King Ranch edition’s optional Premium Technology Package that includes multi-contour massaging seats and a 10.1-inch center touchscreen. 

The Explorer King Ranch also comes with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite of safety tech standard, which includes evasive steering assist, speed sign recognition, a voice-activated touchscreen navigation unit with pinch-to-zoom, and adaptive cruise control that’s capable of both lane centering as well as stop-and-go traffic. The suite also features SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.  

The exterior gets a few more mods that will differentiate your Explorer King Ranch from the less fancy Explorers used by law enforcement, including a Stone Gray-painted mesh grille insert unique to the King Ranch Edition we’ll now know to look for in traffic. King Ranch badging, quad chrome exhaust tips, a liftgate scuff plate and 20-inch aluminum wheels with—you guessed it—more King Ranch cattle brand logos round out the look. 

The King Ranch edition is also the first Explorer to offer the combination of rear-wheel drive and its standard 3.0-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine. Four-wheel drive is still an option in case you might venture into the rough stuff. You’ll get 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque out of the 3.0-liter EcoBoost, which is mated to a 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. 

Fun fact: the King Ranch itself is comprised of roughly 825,000 acres, making it the largest ranch in the U.S. as well as larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. According to Ford, the ranch has its own fleet of 300 Ford trucks to keep it moving. Should they decide to add a few Explorers to the fleet, the Explorer King Ranch should at least be able to tow a modest horse trailer with its standard Class III trailer tow package and towing capacity of up to 5,600 lbs. 

Since 2001, the King Ranch trim line has been on five generations of the F-150, four generations of the Ford F-Series Super Duty pickups and three generations of the Expedition. 

The first-ever Explorer King Ranch Edition goes on sale this spring for an MSRP of $52,350 for the rear-wheel drive model and $54,350 for four-wheel-drive.


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