Ford Explorer King Ranch Debuts With Swanky Interior & New Tech Updates

Ford is introducing the first-ever King Ranch edition of the Explorer SUV. The Explorer, one of the best-selling SUV lines in America, now gets the rugged, yet refined King Ranch trim that F-150 buyers have known since 2001. The 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch continues the brand’s long relationship with the legendary South Texas cattle ranch.

See, this is news to me. As a sports car guy, I always thought Ford’s King Ranch pickups were just a name. Like, there’s the “King” and then the “King Ranch.” Sort of like there’s the “Vente” and there’s the “Grande.”

It turns out the name is from an actual place called The King Ranch. It’s in Texas (of course). A fellow named Captain Richard King (he was a riverboat captain) started the place in the 1850s. And while the history is fascinating, what we have here in the 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch is a very nice and swanky family hauler for the modern-day.

The King Ranch Treatment

With premium features like rich leather and real wood, the 2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch is all about meticulous attention to detail.

Ford found after doing lots of customer research that people desired a more refined interior for the Explorer. And for 2021, the Explorer King Ranch delivers with mahogany-colored Mesa Del Rio leather seats with perforated front and second rows. To really put things over the top, the seats have that nifty old-timey King Ranch Running W logo. The center console is crafted with a Mesa Del Rio leather armrest and includes a King Ranch logo insert.

There’s more swankiness in the cockpit with leather door trim rollovers, a leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel combined with Sapele wood appliqués, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel with Norias stitching and a nice Sapele wood insert.

On the outside, the Explorer King Ranch is classy too; all decked out with a unique Stone Gray-painted mesh grille insert, 20-inch aluminum wheels with a Running W center cap, liftgate scuff plate, and quad chrome exhaust tips. Capping it all off is signature King Ranch exterior badging.

2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch interior layout.
2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch interior layout. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Tech & Safety Features

Tech? C’mon, pardner; this is 2021, not 1851! The available Premium Technology Package includes multi-contour seats with massaging functionality, a 10.1-inch center stack touchscreen with swipe and pinch-to-zoom capability. Also included is a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System that somehow makes Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys sound even better.

There’s also Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ as standard equipment. The package features Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering, Evasive Steering Assist, and voice-activated touchscreen navigation (also with pinch-to-zoom capability). SiriusXM Traffic, Travel Link, and Speed Sign Recognition are also along for the ride.

Explorer King Ranch: Engine & Powertrain

Motivation is furnished by the latest 3.0-liter EcoBoost under the hood kicking out 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. of torque. The EcoBoost engine is connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission. A standard Class III Trailer Tow Package allows for a max towing capacity of up to 5,600 lbs. The Explorer King Ranch can be either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, your choice.

2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch.
2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Pricing & Availability

The Ford Explorer King Ranch will start at $52,350 for rear-wheel-drive models and $54,350 for the four-wheel drive. It will be available at Ford dealerships this spring.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.