Ford Explorer: Base vs. XLT

Are you looking for seating for seven, but avoiding a minivan? The Ford Explorer is the perfect SUV for you. Several trims are available, but the base and XLT models are only $2,115 apart. This breakdown will help you decide if it’s worth the extra money to purchase the XLT.


The 2017 Ford Explorer base model has a starting MSRP of $31,660. The XLT has a starting MSRP of $33,775, which is a $2,115 difference. That may not seem like too much over a span of an auto loan, but it can significantly impact your monthly payment.

Let’s assume that you’re getting a five-year auto loan with 3% interest. Using BankRate’s car loan calculator, we can calculate the payments of the Explorer base model as $568.89 per month. However, the XLT would bring your monthly payments up to $606.89 for the same loan.

Foot-Activated Liftgate

One of the biggest advantages of purchasing the XLT over the Explorer base model is the foot-activated liftgate. This allows you to open your liftgate without having to physically open it yourself, which is great if your arms are full. A power liftgate is something that people love, but you can easily get it without spending thousands of dollars extra. Drone Mobile allows you to use a trunk release without fishing for your keys. The price of this device is $129.98.

Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control

Dual-zone automatic climate control is a creative way of saying that the passenger can set the temperature on their side of the vehicle. You cannot get this feature by purchasing another product, but it’s difficult to see how this can affect the driver and passenger significantly. A passenger that has the temperature set at 78 degrees will still feel cold if the driver has the temperature set at 60.  

Remote Start

Remote start is a feature that many people find useful, and it comes standard with the XLT trim. That said, Drone Mobile also allows you to start your car from a distance and only costs you $129.98. It also gives you additional security, automatic trunk release, and allows you to cool your car in the summer and warm it in the winter.

10-Way Power Driver Seat

Adjusting your seat so you can see the road is essential to driving. Having a 10-way power driver seat gives you more of an opportunity to adjust your seat properly. The Explorer base model does not have this feature, and while you can still adjust your position manually, you’ll have to upgrade to get the power seat. Moreover, there’s not really an easy aftermarket product that’ll give you the same effect, like there is with the remote start.

Nine Speaker Entertainment System

The base trim of the Explorer comes with six total speakers, but if you purchase the XLT, you can get an additional three speakers. At the moment, the Ford Explorer lacks any speakers you can buy online that you can add to your car, but your local audio shop can help you find some that would work with their installation. This may sound expensive, but with newer speakers, you can improve the watt level, install a subwoofer, and more for as little as $400 to $500—well below $2,115.

The Verdict

In the end, most of these features are available to purchase without having to upgrade to the XLT trim. The dual-zone automatic climate control and 10-way power driver seat are the only features that cannot be bought and installed into the vehicle after purchase. Without these two features, you’d spend around $630 estimated to get the additional add-ons.

Last Updated: December 14, 2018