Home Automotive AdviceMarket Advice & Buyer's Guides Ford Explorer ST – Is It Really That Sporty?

Ford Explorer ST – Is It Really That Sporty?

by Jordan Harris
Ford Explorer ST

Are you planning to purchase the Ford Explorer ST and you are looking to find out more about the specs of this model, as well as some of the problems? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because, in this article, there will be quite a bit to cover.

Doing the proper research before you go out there on the market and spend a ton of money on a car is always a smart move. Especially when we are talking about vehicles that are above $50k. The more expensive the car, the more you want to make sure that everything is good on it and most importantly that everything is at your preference.

So, each spec is really important in this aspect because you don’t want to end up with a car that does not perform well. And since ST is a performance model, it should always deliver the best result out there when it comes to performance, as well as in other aspects such as comfort, fuel economy, and cargo capacity.

This is why in this article, we are going to dive into the Ford Explorer ST and learn more about the basics of this model, then we will cover the different specs of the ST model.

Namely, engines and transmissions, dimensions and size, cargo capacity, as well as towing capacity. We will also discuss the common problems with the model. So, if you want to learn more about the Explorer ST, follow along.

Ford Explorer ST

Now before we dive into the Ford Explorer ST specs, let’s take a look at the basics and understand the core concepts of the Explorer and a little bit about the history of this model. Since this model has a very rich history in the US market. So, what is the Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer is a mid-size crossover SUV that was introduced by Ford in 1990 and 1991 was the first model year of this nameplate.

As of 2022, there is a total of six generations of this model released on the market. And each of these generations has something special and different.

What is good to know is that old Explorers used ladder frames in their construction. But since the fifth generation, the model uses a unibody design that increased the rigidity of the vehicle.

Ford Explorer ST

On top of that, modern Explorers are using multi-link rear suspension instead of a solid axle which also improved the drivability of the model and made the Explorer a proper modern vehicle.

This is why if you are interested in purchasing a Ford Explorer, we would recommend getting a model from 2011 onward. Since the difference between these models is night and day in all aspects.

Through the years, the Ford Explorer kept being more and more refined and Ford created the Ford Explorer ST. Which is the high-performance version of this model. If you didn’t know, ST stands for Sports Technologies.

This nameplate is available on most of Ford’s lineup, except for their pickup lineup and the Mustang. The main characteristic of the ST is the boosted performance with more powerful engines. As well as improved handling characteristics. Not to forget the sporty interiors of the models.

Ford Explorer ST Specs

So, we covered the core concepts of the Explorer and we learned that this model was released in 1991 and in total there are six generations.

But we are only interested in the Ford Explorer ST in our case. This is the high-performance model of the Explorer that is basically top-of-the-line when it comes to power in the Explorer lineup. And as we noted previously, the ST refers to Sport Technologies. This is basically the high-performance division of Ford.

What is interesting to note is that the ST version of the Explorer only came up in 2020. So, we can say that only the last generation of the Explorer got the ST badge. Previously, the high-performance model was only referred to as the Sport trim.

Nevertheless, this new ST model is based on the sixth generation of the Explorer that was introduced in 2019 at the North American International Auto Show and 2020 was the first model year.

The model is sold mainly in the US and China. The US model is assembled at the Chicago Assembly in Chicago, Illinois. While the Chinese model is assembled in Hangzhou, China.

Another interesting bit of information to add when it comes to the Explorer is that the model is based on the Ford CD6 platform which is shared with the Lincoln Aviator. So, if you are looking for something more luxurious, this model might be the thing you want.

But if you want something sporty, the Ford Explorer ST is the model that you need. Now let’s continue covering the specs of the ST and learn more about the dimensions and size from which the ST model comes.

Dimensions, Size, And Cargo Capacity

So, we covered the general concepts of the Ford Explorer ST and we learned that this is the sports model in the Explorer lineup. Now we can slowly move on and understand more about the size of this vehicle and see if this model fits your bill in terms of size and practicality.

The Explorer as we noted is a mid-size SUV. This means that it falls somewhere in between the compact and the full-size class. The wheelbase of the model is 119.1 inches and it has an overall length of 198.8 inches.

The Ford Explorer is 78.9 inches wide and 69.9 inches tall. It has a ground clearance of 7.9 inches. Which is pretty decent.

The curb weight of the Explorer ST model is 4,345 lbs. Which is quite light. But if you go for the AWD model, this weight will increase to almost 4,701 lbs. AWD always weighs a bit more than the standard model.

Ford Explorer ST

In terms of cargo capacity, the Explorer is rather practical and able to fit a lot of stuff. Perfect grocery getter as would some people say. And also, the Explorer is a 3-row seater, which means that it is perfect for people who have large families and need that extra space in order to accommodate more people.

In terms of cargo space, with all seats up, the model has only 18.2 cubic feet. Which is a rather small amount of space. But if you fold down the third row, you will get 47.9 cubic feet of space. And if you also fold the second row, you will unlock 87.8 cubic feet.

It is good to see that the Ford Explorer ST is not only fast of the line but also a very practical vehicle.

Ford Explorer ST Interior

In terms of interior, the Ford Explorer ST has really quite a lot to offer for the driver. Namely, this model is focused on comfort and sportiness at the same time.

So, when it comes to the interior and the seating, it is worth noting that this model comes with leather seats with silver accent stitching as well as the ST logo on them. The seats on the first row are heated.

The driver’s seat is 10-way adjustable, while the passenger seat is 8-way adjustable. And this offers unmatched versatility to adjust and seat in the most comfortable position possible.

On the second row, there are two captain’s seats, E-Z entry, and also armrests. The third row is a 50/50 split-fold bench seat. Manually adjusted. Just take note that these features are standard, and some of them are optional.

For example, you can opt out of second-row heated seats, as well as power-fold third-row seating. And also the first row of ventilated seats.

When it comes to the infotainment system, as a standard, you get AM/FM radio with six speakers, Ford Pass Connect, a 12.3’’ screen, USB ports in the front and rear, FordPass, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

With the options, you can get HD Radio, 14 speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with a subwoofer. 100V/150W AC power outlet. And a 10.1’’ high-definition LCD touchscreen installed in portrait mode. Similar to the one found in the Mach-E, as well as the one found in the new Ford F-150.

So, in terms of features, the Ford Explorer ST has a lot to offer. Even though some of the best features do not come as a standard and you will have to spend more money to option them out.

Ford Explorer ST Engine And Transmission

In terms of powertrain, it is worth noting that the Ford Explorer ST includes only one engine. Don’t confuse the ST with the ST-Line because the ST-Line has some of the cues of the proper ST, it is still not an ST model and has a less powerful engine.

Nevertheless, the ST has a 3.0L V6 EcoBoost engine that is twin-turbocharged with direct injection. And when it comes to the Ford Explorer ST horsepower, this model produces about 400 hp and 415lb-ft of torque. The 3.0L is paired with a 10-speed automatic with overdrive.

While the engine on the ST-Line, the engine used is a 2.3L inline-4, turbocharged with direct injection. The engine creates 300hp and 310lb-ft of torque. In terms of transmissions, the engine has the same 10-speed automatic transmission. But what about the fuel economy? Let’s elaborate more on this in the next chapter.

Ford Explorer ST Fuel Economy

In terms of fuel economy, the Ford Explorer ST is not the greatest performer. But this is quite understandable because the ST is the sports model. And sports models that create a ton of power are not particularly efficient when it comes to fuel.

But the ST still delivers a good performance nevertheless, the model gets 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined. It has a gas tank capacity of 20 gallons.

Ford Explorer ST

The ST-Line on the other hand is a bit more fuel efficient. The ST-Line gets about 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and overall 24 mpg combined. This model has a fuel tank size of 17.9 gallons.

Ford Explorer ST Tow Capacity

In terms of towing, the Ford Explorer ST is a really decent performer. This model is able to tow up to 5,600 lbs. Just remember that this number is for the 3.0L engine.

The 2.3L engine is not so capable on the other hand. This model can tow up to 5,300 lbs. Not a huge difference. But there is still some difference that is important when it comes to some specific trailers.

Even though, from our experience, you should avoid towing very heavy loads that are close to the maximum towing rating. This is important because even if you tow anywhere close to the factory rating for long periods of time, it could strain the chassis and the powertrain and you will get a failure at some point on some of these components and these repairs are crazy expensive.

This is why when it comes to serious towing, we would recommend a light-duty pickup truck like the Ford F-150 instead of the Ford Explorer ST.

Ford Explorer Safety

In terms of the Ford Explorer ST safety. We can say that this model is quite new and was tested both by the NHTSA and the IIHS.

On the NHTSA testing, the model got an overall score of 5 stars out of 5. Which is rather good. The only aspect where it got 4 stars is the rollover.

On the IIHS, this model also performed really well and got “Good” scores on most of the tests. And good on the IIHS testing is the highest score possible. The only aspect where this model is flawed a bit is in the lower leg area. In this evaluation, the Explorer only got a “Poor” rating since there could be serious leg injuries if there is a serious accident on the road.

But what is good is that Ford addressed these problems with the Explorer and updated the model. So, it was retested again and this time it got an “Acceptable” rating. Which is a bit better than the poor rating that it got previously.

But except for that, the Ford Explorer ST is a really good performer.

Ford Explorer Price

In terms of pricing, the Ford Explorer ST starts at $49,505 according to the official Ford website. Still, this pricing is for the RWD ST-Line.

The proper ST RWD starts at $51,000 and the 4WD ST model starts at $53,000. We think that is the better option since the price difference between the ST-Line and the ST is rather small.

But remember that this is only the MSRP, dealerships charge a lot more and you still have to get the car from them. So, you can expect to pay a few grand more. But what about the problems with this model, are there any problems with it? Let’s elaborate more on that next.

Common Problems

When it comes to the Ford Explorer, this model is probably the most reported model ever out there. On carcomplaints.com there are more than 13,000 reports on this specific vehicle. But we are only interested in the ones that are after 2020. Since the ST model was introduced in 2020.

In the first production year, the model has a total of 29 reports. Mainly transmission problems. There were reports of hard shifting by owners, 5 reports total on hard shifting. 1 report on transmission failure and one report on transmission fluid cooler leak.

There were also problems reported with the interior accessories. People reported center console screen issues, and no radio, audio, and GPS. Also, some reported seat memory issues.

When it comes to the engines, there were reports on the 2.3L engine. Namely oil leak from the rear main seal.

Also, brake problems were reported as well. Problems like the brake pedal going to the floor, or brakes did not work while reversing. Which is a really bad thing because you need brakes in order to drive the car right? Still, these are rare occasions of brake malfunctions.

2021 is less problematic. There were still 2 reports of rattling noises coming from the rear of the Ford Explorer ST. Owners reported this happening over bumps. Some owners even reported rattling from the windows. Also, rattles from the exhaust as well as from the speakers.

On the Explorer ST, there were also reports of the vehicle losing power all of a sudden and inability to accelerate.

2022 models have some reports as well. Namely, the front camera sensors are inoperable, as well as the rear brake sensor inoperable. Also, there were reported problems with the check engine light, as well as cooling system problems on the Ford Explorer ST.


When it comes to the Ford Explorer ST recalls, we can say that there were quite a few of them. But what is worth noting is that these recalls include all of the Explorer models.

2020 had 13 recalls overall, There were recalls when it comes to the suspension, fuel system, engine, rearview mirrors, buckle assembly, electrical problems, and parking brake issues.

2021 has 5 recalls done to it. There is one recall on the driveshaft for a bolt that might fracture and cause the driveshaft to disconnect. Suspension recall for wrong components being installed, another recall for the rearview camera that can fail.

In addition to this, there were two recalls for poorly tightening some fasteners during assembly. Namely, the motor mounts and the side airbags.

2022 has 4 recalls in total. The first recall concerns the fuel line on the 2.3L engine that might get loose because of improper tightening, the second recall involves the frame rails for being improperly heat-treated. The third recall concerns the driveshaft and the bolt that we mentioned previously. And the last recall involves the fuel filler tube possibility of getting detached.

For 2023, there are no reports available. As you can see, this model is recalled quite a lot during its lifetime. Poor assembly is the primary problem that later on causes rattles that most people reported on this model.

So, you better make sure that the model that you want to purchase participated in these recalls and that the vehicle is structurally sound. Because safety is the number one priority for you.

You don’t want to drive a death trap. Especially the problem with the driveshaft detaching is quite serious and you can imagine what could happen if this happens at highway speeds. So, it’s worth considering these if you’re wondering how long do Ford Explorers last.


In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the Ford Explorer ST. We learned what is this model all about and a little bit about its history.

Once we covered the history of the Explorer and its main concepts, we moved on to the ST model specs and learned all about it. Dimensions & size, engines & transmissions, fuel economy, safety, as well as the price. Lastly, we discussed the problems with this model, as well as the recalls.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What Does ST Stand For Ford

ST is Ford’s high-performance division. The ST acronym stands for Sports Technologies. And a lot of Ford models bear this badge. Like the Fiesta, Focus, Edge, and Explorer ST. These models are the top of the line when it comes to Ford performance. Except for the Mustang which is a separate model.

Where Is The Ford Explorer Made

This model is assembled in two factories. The US model is assembled at the Chicago Assembly in Chicago, Illinois. While the Chinese model is assembled at the Changan Ford Factory in Hangzhou, China.

What Is The Difference Between Ford Explorer ST And Platinum

The Explorer ST is the model that focuses on performance. Even though, the Platinum model creates the same amount of power. But the ST has some suspension tweaks that make this model more sporty when it comes to driving. While the Platinum is all about comfort and luxury.

How Much Is A New Ford Explorer

A new Ford Explorer starts at $37,000. Just take note that this is the base model and this is the MSRP. The MSRP and the sale price might differ because dealerships also want to profit from the sale. So, you can expect to pay a few grand more to purchase the model.

How Many Gallons Does A Ford Explorer Hold

The smaller 2.3L engine has a gas tank that can hold about 17 gallons. While the bigger 3.0L engine has a bigger gas tank that can hold up to 20 gallons of gas.

How Fast Can A Ford Explorer Go

A Ford Explorer can go up to 145 mph. Which is rather plenty for its size. The 3.0L engine can accelerate from 0 to 60 in only 5.5 seconds. So, we recommend going for this engine if you want something quick off the line. The 2.3L on the other hand can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 6.8 seconds.

Image Notes:

  1. Ford-Explorer-ST.jpg sourced from https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/multimedia/album/2022/2022-ford-explorer-st-st-line.html#
  2. Ford-Explorer-ST-1-1.jpg sourced from https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/multimedia/album/2022/2022-ford-explorer-st-st-line.html#
  3. Ford-Explorer-ST-2-1.jpg sourced from https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/multimedia/album/2022/2022-ford-explorer-st-st-line.html#
  4. Ford-Explorer-ST-3.jpg sourced from https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/fna/us/en/multimedia/album/2022/2022-ford-explorer-st-st-line.html#

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