2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Ford Bronco

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  • 2021 Ford Explorer

    A black 2021 Ford Explorer is angled left.

    Starting at

    $32,225

    2021 Ford Bronco

    A black 2021 Ford Bronco is angled right.

    Starting at

    $28,500

    300- 400Horsepower (HP)270 - 310
    7 PassengersSeating5 Passengers
    87.8Max Cargo Space (cu.ft.)77.6

    If adventure is your cup of tea, then we have some good news for you. Ford's latest lineup of vehicles includes two stellar off-roading models that can handle just about anything you throw at them. Whether you want something for solo adventures or trips with the whole family, you have probably considered comparing the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Ford Bronco.

    Both vehicles are incredible at what they are designed to do. While the Explorer is better suited for families, thanks to its third-row of seats, they are on par with each other as far as performance, design, and technology. Of course, if you don't have a large family, then the Bronco offers a compact and stylish two-door variant as well as a removable roof and doors for open-air adventure. However, if you are still trying to decide which one is right for your specific needs, then keep reading. 

    The 2021 Ford Explorer has seating for six to seven people, and the 2021 Ford Bronco has room for five. The Explorer offers three rows of seating with 18.2 cubic feet of space in the back. By folding down the third row, you can expand the area to 47.9 cubic feet. If you fold both back rows down, you will gain access to a maximum area measured at 87.8 cubic feet. On the other hand, the Bronco offers two rows of seating whether you choose the two- or four-door body style. The smaller model provides 23.6 cubic feet of space in the rear, and the 4-door version has 35.6 cubic feet. The maximum cargo area that you can get on the Bronco is 77.6 cubic feet, which is surprisingly close to the Explorer. 

  • Performance

    A blue 2021 Ford Explorer is shown from a high angle on a dirt road during the 2021 Ford Explorer vs 2021 Ford Bronco comparison.

    Performance is a big deal when it comes to SUVs. Luckily, both the 2021 Ford Explorer and the 2021 Ford Bronco offer powerful engines and capable drivetrains. You even get to pick what kind of power you want from a variety of options. However, these two Ford SUVs offer different takes on performance, with the Explorer emphasizing speed and efficiency, while the Bronco focuses on off-road performance.

    Explorer Performance

    The Explorer comes standard with a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-4 motor that pumps out 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive (4x4 is optional), it can tow up to 5,300 pounds. The other option is a turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Using the same transmission and drivetrain, you can expect to get up to 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque in the performance-oriented ST trim. Finally, the Explorer is available as a hybrid that provides 318 hp and gets 27 MPG combined.

    Bronco Performance

    The Bronco comes standard with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-4 and a 10-speed automatic transmission, although it produces a slightly lower 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. However, Bronco has standard 4x4 on every trim and can be equipped with a 7-speed manual transmission, providing a sportier and more engaging driving experience. The other option is a 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 motor, also with standard 4x4. There is no manual transmission option for this motor, but it can provide up to 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.

    While the Bronco does have less horsepower than the Explorer, it offers a variety of off-road performance features, from a swaybar disconnect to massive all-terrain tires. These differences generally mean that the Bronco is better suited to off-road adventures while the Explorer will perform better on the highways.

  • Safety

    A mother, daughter, and dog are at the back of a grey 2021 Ford Explorer with an open trunk in a driveway.

    Next, we have to talk about safety. Comparing the 2021 Ford Explorer vs the 2021 Ford Bronco for safety systems will reveal a lot of similarities between the two models. Ford is dedicated to making advanced safety features available to every driver, and both of these SUVs advance that goal. Let's see what each one has to help you decide which is best for your needs. 

    Explorer Safety

    The 2021 Ford Explorer offers lots of safety systems on even the base model as part of Ford's Co-Pilot360 suite. To start with, blindspot monitoring will alert you when another vehicle enters your blind spot. Rear cross-traffic alert will detect vehicles moving behind you as your travel in reverse, and lane-keeping assist will guide the Explorer back into the designated lane if you begin to drift outside the lines. Meanwhile, trailer sway control will keep you driving straight even with a trailer in tow. Finally, frontal collision mitigation will erect potential threats up ahead and trigger the brakes if not evasive action is taken by you. 

    If you look at the 2021 Ford Explorer Limited, you will find a few other safety systems that have been put in place. Front parking sensors assist with parallel parking, and the surround-view camera system will help you get out of crowded parking lots without causing an accident. Meanwhile, the lane-centering system makes minor steering corrections for you to keep you in the center of the lane. Finally, adaptive cruise control allows you to choose a speed limit and the following distance. The system will slow down to match the flow of traffic and keep the following distance. 

    Bronco Safety

    Switching gears for a moment, the 2021 Ford Bronco also comes standard with Co-Pilot360. This includes all the major safety features found on the Explorer, including frontal collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist, blindspot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. On top of these standard systems, the higher trims add additional features, such as an auto-dimming mirror to prevent glare from other headlights and a surround-view camera system to help navigate tight spaces. The Bronco even includes some revolutionary off-road safety features, such as Trail One-Pedal Driving, which allows you to control the vehicle with the gas pedal alone at low speeds.

  • Off-Roading

    A yellow 2021 Ford Bronco Two Door is kicking up dust while off-roading on a desert trail.

    If you are planning to enjoy off-roading and adventures in a 2021 Ford Explorer or 2021 Ford Bronco, then you should be aware of which trims are best suited to this type of driving. Not all trims have been optimized for the wild outdoors. So, let's explore the models for both vehicles that can handle a bit of rough tumbling. 

    Explorer Adventuring Features

    For the 2021 Ford Explorer, you should look at the Platinum trim. This top-of-the-line version comes with everything you need to take the family camping. If the interior is completely full, you can stash extra luggage or gear on top via the roof rails. The Class III Trailer Tow Package has been added to enhance the vehicle's ability to pull. If you have a boat or some ATVs that you wish to bring along, you can.

    For enhanced illumination around turns, the adaptive headlights swivel as you turn the steering wheel. This will help you avoid hitting any wildlife on your journey. Available add-ons for this trim include massaging chairs for long trips, a DVD entertainment system in the back for the kids, and a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers. Also, don't forget that you can add a sunroof. This is a great touch for those perfect weather days. 

    Bronco Adventuring Features

    On the other hand, every trim level for the 2021 Ford Bronco is well suited for the wild outdoors. From the Base trim all the way up to the First Edition trim, you can't go wrong with any of these trims. Some general notes to take away from the Bronco is that it was designed to compete against the Jeep Wrangler. This means that the doors and roof are removable. It also means that this vehicle can handle rough rock crawling, water fording, and even sand.

    The Black Diamond trim gets a heavy-duty module bumper and an updated bash plate for extra protection from rocks. It also comes with rubberized flooring that can be hosed out. Drain plugs allow you to get all of the water out afterward. The Badlands model gets a front stabilizer bar disconnect for optimized articulation. It also includes electronic-locking front and rear axles for better traction. If you opt for the Wildtrak trim, you even get the Bronco's Sasquatch Package standard. This includes 35-inch tires, high-clearance fender flares, Bilstein shocks, and more. However, this package can be added to any Bronco trim to get the perfect off-road machine.

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