The Ford Explorer is America’s all-time best-selling SUV, with nearly 8,000,000 vehicles sold since it’s introduction back in 1990, and all but establishing the mid-size-SUV segment that’s become so prevalent today.
Over the past three decades, the Explorer has undergone numerous significant changes, going from a rough and tumble off-roader to become a more civilized daily driver that can still pull double-duty and take you on adventures in the great outdoors.
We tested this out first-hand a few years ago, taking a 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum on a road-trip from Bozeman, Montana to Jackson, Wyoming, with stops at Yellowstone National Park and Teton National Forest along the way. It might not have been as off-road capable as say a Wrangler, but our Explorer took us anywhere we wanted to go without missing a beat.
For the new 2020 Ford Explorer, the vehicle has been completely redesigned from the ground up, featuring lighter, leaner and stronger construction, more powerful and efficient EcoBoost engines, the broadest model lineup ever, and smart new technology.
Not only that, but the sixth-generation Explorer switches to a rear-wheel-drive architecture that enables a sportier, more athletic design, improved on- and off-road capability and 600 pounds more in maximum towing capacity when properly equipped, allowing people to haul boats and trailers with ease.
While only fractionally longer than the outgoing model, the Explorer’s wheelbase grows by six inches, allowing for more passenger space in each of its standard three rows. The new Explorer boasts best-in-class first- and second-row hip room, best-in-class second-row headroom, and unsurpassed third-row headroom.
The 2020 Explorer has two EcoBoost engines to choose from – A 2.3-liter turbocharged I4 that puts out 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque (standard on base, XLT and Limited models), and a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque when running 93-octane fuel (standard on Explorer Platinum).
All models come with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and you can order the Explorer with either rear or intelligent four-wheel drive. Why would you want rear-wheel drive, you might ask? Rear-wheel drive models have a higher towing capacity than 4WD models.
Up to seven selectable drive modes are available for customers to tailor their drive experience to road, weather and terrain conditions on demand. Rear-wheel-only Explorer drive modes include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco. Vehicles with intelligent four-wheel drive add a deep snow and sand mode for improved performance off-road.
The 2020 Ford Explorer comes in six trim levels: standard, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum. The starting price for the base model rises by just $400, to $33,860, and comes packed with more than a dozen new standard features, including a power liftgate, an 8″ touch screen with SYNC 3, FordPass Connect 4G LTE Wi-Fi service for up to 10 devices, Ford’s Co-Pilot360 safety suite, and more.
As you can see in the photo above, the new Explorer is available with a 10.1-inch touch screen mounted in portrait configuration on the center stack. NAV maps can fill the entire screen for easy viewing, or split the space with audio information. The placement of the screen looks like a last-minute afterthought, and it would have been nice if they could had integrated it into the dash a bit better, like how the Tesla Model S or Ram 1500 does.
Knowing that today’s consumers want to stay connected at all times, the new Explorer has up to four USB ports (including new Type-C outlets), a wireless charging pad, up to three 12-volt outlets, a 110-volt outlet, and the aforementioned 10 device Wi-Fi hotspot. A 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O audio system is available as an option.
“Explorer drivers told us what they want: more capability, more power, more space. They want more technology, not just for the driver, but for the whole family. And they want all of it with a beautifully sporty exterior. This new Explorer gives them all of that, and more, helping make every journey more enjoyable,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s head of product development and purchasing.
Based on everything we’ve seen and heard about the 2020 Explorer so far, it sound like a real winner. It looks really sharp (with a bit of Range Rover influence from certain angles), and it comes packed with extra performance, comfort, and technology, without a big jump in price!
We’re looking forward to driving the new Explorer in the coming months, so stay tuned for the inevitable review. The 2020 Ford Explorer will hit dealerships this summer.