It's been nearly a decade since the Ford Explorer ditched its truck-like roots to become the crossover America knows today. After its debut on Friday in cop car form, the 2020 Ford Explorer arrived Wednesday in civilian trim.
With better packaging, new technology, and more capability than before, the 2020 Explorer is meant to meet the needs of families when it launches this summer.
Based on the new modular D6 platform that also serves the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, the Explorer shaves 200 pounds thanks to the use of high-strength boron steel. It doesn't go back to a body-on-frame design, but it does return to a rear-wheel-drive based platform with the engine mounted longitudinally. With a sloping roofline, a swept-back front end, a wide stance, and shorter front and rear overhangs, the new Explorer looks leaner and sportier than previous generations, whether on the standard 18-inch alloy wheels or the available 21s.
2020 Ford Explorer
Most Explorers will be powered by a 2.3-liter turbo-4 with 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Those who want more power, and bling, can opt for the Platinum model with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that makes 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque (on 93-octane gas). All-wheel drive is available, and all Explorers now feature a 10-speed automatic transmission. A more frugal hybrid and more powerful ST model are waiting in the wings, but details haven't been announced yet.
A new Terrain Management System gives the 2020 Explorer seven drive modes: Normal, Trail, Deep Sand/Snow, Slippery, Sport, Tow/Haul, and Eco. Each mode monitors wheel speed, steering sensors, and throttle position and adjusts various vehicle systems to best handle the terrain/conditions.
The new platform and powertrains give the 2020 Explorer more capability when it's time to put the family hauler to work. Models equipped with the twin-turbo V-6 can tow up to 5,600 pounds, while the turbo-4 can tug up to 5,300 pounds when equipped with the tow package.
Inside, the new Explorer appears modern, and that's not just because Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard. An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system perched on the dashboard like a hard-mounted tablet is standard, but an available 10.1-inch touchscreen mounted in a portrait configuration is the Explorer's new look-at-me-feature. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is also offered.
2020 Ford Explorer
Acoustic glass and available active noise cancellation will help keep things quiet inside, but an available 14-speaker 980-watt B&O sound system can easily change that. A 4G LTE connection with Wi-Fi can connect up to 10 devices, and an available wireless charging pad will keep smartphones juiced. Those who need to plug in will find three 12-volt outlets, a 110-volt outlet, and four USB ports, including Type C outlets.
Three rows of seating come standard, with a second-row bench seat, though second-row captains chairs are available. Notably, every seating position in the second and third rows have LATCH hookups for car seats. The most comfort will be found up front with available 8-way power heated and cooled seats with five massage modes.
Both the second- and third-row seats fold to create a completely flat load floor with 87.8 cubic feet of space big enough to swallow a 4x8 sheet of plywood. The rear cargo area features hidden cargo space on either side, and the load floor is reversible with a hard, wipeable surface. A raised, angled-lip hatch entrance prevents items from rolling out the back when the hatch opens.
2020 Ford Explorer
All 2020 Explorers come standard with Ford's Co-Pilot 360 suite of active safety technology, which includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, and active lane control. It also gets a rearview camera with a built-in lens cleaner and automatic high beams. Additionally, all Explorers feature side-wind mitigation, while Platinum models add reverse brake assist and an automatic parking system that controls everything with the press of a button.
Optional is a new intelligent adaptive cruise control system that can read speed-limit signs, and can, in conjunction with the available navigation system, adjust the speed setting accordingly.
Ford will offer the Explorer in five trims: XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum.
Pricing and fuel economy haven't been announced, but Ford said the 2020 Explorer will cost just $400 more than the current model, which gives it a base price just under $34,000.