Ford STX vs. XLT: Comparison Guide

If you’re checking out Fords, keeping the different trim levels and packages straight can be tough. Comparing the Ford STX versus XLT labels gets confusing if you don’t have the right information.

To make things easy, remember that the STX package isn’t a trim level. It’s an add-on. The XLT trim level is a separate configuration.

Ford STX vs. XLT: Similarities and Differences Explored

Going beyond the basics requires that you keep reading to understand all the differences between the Ford STX and XLT labels.

Ford STX Trim Level Overview

The STX package isn’t a true trim level. Instead, it’s an appearance package that adds some interior and exterior upgrades. Ford presents the STX as a bridge between the XL work and XLT mid-level models. Therefore, it’s not available on every Ford car, truck, or SUV.

The package also varies, depending on which vehicle you apply it to.

For example, on a 2017 Ford F-150, the STX package includes:

  • Larger machined-aluminum wheels
  • Black grille with body-color trim with a black mesh insert
  • Body-matched front fascia
  • SYNC® 3 and an 8-inch touchscreen featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility
  • Tinted glass and rear window defroster
  • Manual driver and passenger lumbar support
  • Black cloth seats
  • Steering-column-mounted shifter
  • STX decals
  • Fog lamps
  • Seat back map pockets

All three of the F-150 engines are available with the STX package, so you can choose from the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, or the larger 5.0-liter V8.

On a 2017 Ford F-150 Super, the specifications change a bit. You can only choose from the 6.2-liter gas V8 or the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel. This package adds a few items to the XL trim level, including:

  • An upgraded stereo
  • Vented fenders with an STX badge
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls from cruise control
  • Chrome grille and front and rear step-ups
  • Special aluminum wheels

Ford also offers the newer 2021 Expedition XL STX as a base model. 

Ford XLT Trim Level Explained

The XLT trim level includes some equipment and upgrades similar to some parts of the STX package. Sometimes, the XLT trim might carry the code 302A from the factory.

Some XLT upgrades are only available by selecting this high trim level. Those premium options include a few major features:

  • Heated seats
  • 12″ Sync screen
  • Upgraded side mirrors with heat, dimming, and integrated turn signals
  • Leather steering wheel
  • LED headlights

Some additional comfort and convenience features also come along as optional equipment within the XLT trim level. However, they are not found on any XL trims, even if you select the STX package.

For example, the XLT standard trim includes the whole XL power equipment group, cruise control, and a reverse sensing system. All of those come with any XLT vehicle. XLT vehicles also all have an electronic emergency brake system that’s not available on any XL model, even if it has the STX package.

The XLT trim offers optional electronic lumbar support, while STX models offer only manual driver and passenger lumbar support.

When comparing features, keep in mind that the following standard features are only available on vehicles sporting XLT trim:

  • Padded door armrests
  • Padded center console cover
  • Painted accents on the dashboard
  • Chrome accents on HVAC vents, door handles, and more
  • Automatic-dimming rearview mirror
  • Overhead console
  • Power driver seat
  • Power-adjustable brake and gas pedals

In addition to the standard features above, the XLT trim level unlocks an option for adding a remote starting system, a sliding rear window, and auxiliary lighting in the cargo area. Unfortunately, those options are unavailable as part of the STX package on an XL chassis.

Ford STX vs. XLT

Similarities between Ford STX and XLT

Some items cross over the Ford STX and XLT equipment groups. Some options are nearly identical, while others are similar.

Similarity 1: Sync 3

When you upgrade an XL model with the STX package, you add Ford’s upgraded Sync 3 system in place of the 2.3″ productivity screen and AM/FM stereo. That same upgrade comes as part of the XLT package.

Similarity 2: Halogen Fog Lamps

The XL trim level doesn’t come with fog lamps. The vehicle will have dual halogen fog lamps if you upgrade with either the STX package or the higher XLT trim level.

Similarity 3: Lumbar Adjustments

You’ll need an upgrade from the XL trim if you want adjustable lumbar support on both the driver and passenger seats. The STX upgrade and XLT trim level include manual adjustments for the passenger and driver seats.

Similarity 4: Upgraded Bumpers

Both the XLT trim level and the STX package have upgraded front and rear bumpers. On the XLT trim models, the bumpers are chrome. On a truck with the STX package, the bumpers come in the same color as the body. XL bumpers are plain black.

Main differences between Ford STX and Ford XLT

There are some big differences to remember when comparing STX and XLT models. But there are also some similarities.

Ford STX vs. XLT Models

The Ford STX upgrade is available on certain F-150 trucks, some F-250 and F-350 trucks, and some Explorers and Expeditions. The newer 2023 Ford Expedition automatically combines the STX package with the XL trim level.

There are even some older Ford Ranger models with the STX package.

Ford STX vs. XLT Engine Options

The new 2023 Ford Expedition comes in six trim levels, all equipped with the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine:

  • XL STX
  • XLT
  • Limited
  • Timberline
  • King Ranch
  • Platinum

Older XLT models of Explorers, Expeditions, and F-150 trucks offer your choice of the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, or the larger 5.0-liter V8. Many STX models offered all three engine options as well.

Ford STX vs. XLT Front Profile

Models with the STX upgrade typically offer a black grille with a body-colored trim around it. Some models, like the F-150 STX, usually also have a black mesh insert in the grille.

The front fascia and front bumper match the body color as well.

On XLT vehicles, the grille is chrome. And some XLT models have the headlight lower on the front.

If you’re observant, you may also notice that the XLT model might have small sensors for its anti-collision sensors. This system is not available on most STX models.

Ford STX vs. XLT Back Profile

The back of a Ford with the STX package looks very much like an XLT model. The only difference you’re likely to notice is that an XLT rear bumper is chrome, while an STX model has a body-colored bumper.

Ford STX vs. XLT Side Profile

STX upgrades include privacy tinting of the windows and larger aluminum wheels, as compared to the base XL model. The XLT models also have upgraded wheels and tires, but the wheels aren’t aluminum.

Ford STX vs. XLT Interior

The XLT trim level has more interior amenities than the STX upgrade. The STX comes with unique black-clad cloth seats. Some models also offer power locks, an upgraded sound system, and electronic climate control. 

XLT models have even more interior upgrades. Some owners suspect the STX model has a less insulated windshield, reporting that the XLT trim has a much quieter cabin.

XLT models also have additional padding on the door rests and center console, painted accents on the dashboard, various chrome accents, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an overhead console, a power driver seat, and power-adjustable brake and gas pedals.

Ford STX vs. XLT Drivetrain

Most STX models are available with either two- or four-wheel drive, as they are both an option on all XL models.

Some XLT models are not available with anything other than four-wheel drive. But that’s not the same across all Ford vehicles.

Ford STX vs. XLT Safety features

STX upgrades are pretty lacking in the safety department. But, a rearview camera is standard on all models. With an upgrade to the XLT trim level, the vehicle will also have a collision avoidance system and blind-spot detectors.

Ford STX vs. XLT Price Comparison

The Ford STX package packs a lot of punch, despite being less expensive than the XLT trim line.

For example, the current 2023 Ford Expedition XL STX costs $53,875 (MSRP), while the XLT model of the same vehicle costs $57,940 (MSRP).

The best way to compare prices is by thinking of the STX as an upgrade from the base trim-level XL models. It doesn’t get you to an XLT model, but it does carry some of the same options and upgrades.

Ford STX vs. XLT Pros and Cons Table Summary

Less expensive than XLTLess interior upgradesUnlock options and  safety features not available on XL models with STXExpensive
Easier to pick and choose additional optionsMany exterior upgrades are cosmetic onlySync included, with an option for larger screenNo option for painted bumpers instead of chrome
Sync includedLess sound deadeningMany interior upgrades includedSome options redundant to STX

Which is Better: Ford XLT or STX?

Determining whether the XLT trim level or STX package largely depends on personal preference. That said, the XLT trim is a premium option that carries a fairly hefty price tag. Therefore, you may be able to save some money and still get some upgraded options by going with the STX package on an XL vehicle.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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