What’s the Difference Between The Ford Explorer XLT and The Sport?

Ford offers the Explorer in several trim levels, giving consumers room to choose what vehicle favors their needs. 

The crossover comes in five trim levels; Explorer, XLT, Limited, Sport(SP), and Platinum. 

Each trim comes with its distinguishing features designed to make family trips a pure breeze. 

Whether you desire to have performance, towing capabilities, or a safe ride for your family, you can count on any of the five vehicles.

What’s the Difference Between The Ford Explorer XLT and The Sport?

The main difference between a Ford Explorer XLT and the XLT Sport is that the Sport is more powerful and luxurious while the XLT is built for a daily driver who does not require hauling huge cargo

Thus, people who will be doing a lot of towing and cargo-hauling should settle for the Sport Explorer, and if you want a comfortable vehicle for daily use, the XLT will work best for you.

Here is a more detailed comparison of the two trim levels you should check.

Powertrain and Engine

Powered by a 3.5l V6 and producing 290 horsepower, the Ford Explorer Sport has enough power to haul your family in unmatched comfort. 

Also, it is equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox, which comes with an all-wheel drive. 

XLT buyers can get a 2.3l turbocharged engine producing 280 horsepower and either a front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Besides, the Sport is fitted with a special suspension and low-profile wheels to give better performance and handling when driving through corners. 

Nonetheless, both models promise fast acceleration, precise steering wheel responsiveness, and comfort, but the Sport stands out. 

The Ford Explorer Sport can move from 0 to 60mph in 6.3 seconds, which is remarkable considering its size.


The two trim levels of Ford Explorer are equipped with enough power to move your family from one destination to another. 

But it is the Sport Variant that is likely to capture your attention as it has a unique suspension tuning and low profile wheels for better handling. 

Although both models have fast acceleration, the Sport will outshine the XLT and win the hearts of many buyers.

Both trim levels have a huge cargo area suitable for taller items and capable of hauling all your family cargo when taking a weekend to the woods. 

The cargo volume is at par in both vehicles and can accommodate folded seats, among other items for a weekend adventure. 

Besides, the rear seats can be folded flat to create more room. 

Both trims have enough cup holders and long door pockets to make all passengers happy, and a vast central console bin for the driver. 

Nonetheless, if you want to haul a trailer easily, go with the sports variant, as it has more engine power and comes with a special towing package.


You will find standard features in both models, such as Synch voice commands, adjustable front seats, soft carpet, and a rearview camera.

However, the Sports Explorer offers more features that are available as options for the XLT. 

Such niceties include heated seats, leather upholstery, folding third-row seats, and power-adjustable pedals. 

Besides, the sports variant has soft-touch surfaces all around the vehicle to give it a touch of luxury.


Ford is a profound car manufacturer, and they put a lot of effort into making both the Explorer XLT and Sport have functional and comfortable cabins. 

You can be assured of some decent space in the first rows of the compact SUVs, but the same cannot be said of the third row as it can accommodate kids or petite persons.

Although getting into the third row is relatively easy, thanks to a feature in both vehicles that moves the second row out of the way; the third row is best suited for children due to limited space. 

However, competitors, such as the Chevy Traverse, offer more comfort in the third row. 

Still, both the Sport and XLT have enough room for your family.

Connectivity and Infotainment

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard in both trims and includes Apple, Carplay, Wi-Fi hotspot, and Android Auto connectivity.

The design is not only attractive but responsive, making your driving experience more intuitive. 

Besides, you will get a rotatory controller to further help you in controlling different features. 

An optional 10.1-inch vertical screen is available if you want to upgrade and comes with voice-activated navigation. 

Passengers in the rear seats can control their entertainment, thanks to the 12-speaker audio system, standard in the two trims.


Thanks to its exceptional safety features, the 2021 Ford explorer was awarded five stars from the National Highway Traffic Administration. 

Although they missed a similar award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety due to mere overlap in the front crash test, you can trust the two Ford trims with the safety of your loved ones. 

Ford equips each Explorer with several driver assistance technologies as standard with options for upgrades, such as the self-parking feature, forward warning system to prevent collisions, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist.

Ford Explorer Sport Review

The Explorer Sport is named after its agility on the tarmac. 

The 2020 variant can move from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, making it faster than the 2019 and 2018 models. 

Ford Explorer Sport comes to demystify myths about practical compact SUVs that can be used both in the city and wilderness without making you feel out of place. 

While on the road, the sport ride is pleasant as you enjoy the deliberate sporting intentions that give it a heavy-footed feeling. 

Driving the ST gives you the confidence to push the car to its limits and enjoy the fascinating noise as the tires and tarmac interact. 

Besides, the suspension and brakes give you the feeling of a rock-solid vehicle capable of negotiating corners and towing a trailer with much ease.

The Explorer Sport will blow your mind as it’s consistent and smooth while handling all terrains. 

It is a sporting machine fitted in the body of a compact SUV for more client satisfaction. 

It is not your natural performance car, giving extra grip and power to give more confidence on the road.

Over the years, the ST has been redesigned to make its interior and exterior meet its reputation and attract more buyers. 

Seating in the cabin gives the satisfying feeling of some cozy leather seats to hold your body firmly while handling the road. 

It gives you a friendly environment, encouraging you to spend more time in the cabin. 

Besides, the quality of materials places the ST ahead of its competitors as the overall feeling of spending time in the vehicle is satisfying. 

Is the Ford Explorer XLT a Good Purchase? 

The XLT is an excellent compact SUV to buy, thanks to its potent engine, good mileage, and comfortable ride. 

The cargo space is decent, with enough standard features to warrant a purchase. The infotainment system and safety technologies further make the vehicle fun and safe to drive, boosting your confidence on the road.

Nonetheless, the third-row seats are not as comfortable compared to its rivals. The cabin is okay for most buyers, although you can choose to upgrade it to suit your taste. 

Besides, the XLT is a reliable compact SUV, assuring you of fun if regularly maintained.

Take Away

Before heading to any dealership and making your purchase, it is essential to consider what experts and other buyers have experienced with your car choice. 

We cannot recommend any of the two models, but we equip you with all the knowledge to make an informed choice. 

Besides, you can check for crash test results and other valuable information from a trusted automotive press.

Since the Explorer has been around for some time now, getting information about the car is not difficult. 

Besides, always get information from reliable and experienced sources to avoid getting biased information that could make an emotional purchase.

Finally, it’s time to consider what the best car is for you. 

Both the Explorer XLT and Sport are a good choice, and it isn’t easy to make a direct recommendation compared to its competitors. 

Nonetheless, the detailed review gives enough information about each trim level. 

While one may consider the XLT more rugged, they are likely to get carried away by the comfy, more powerful Sport trim, loaded with lots of extra features.

Always remember the final decision rests with you and what you need from the vehicle. 

Finally, remember to embrace more recent models of the two cars. 

For instance, the 2021 Sport comes with a better pilot360 system compared to its predecessor. 

Every year, Ford makes an effort to upgrade its vehicles’ safety, security, and entertainment to offer better client satisfaction. 

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