The new Explorer goes back to its SUV roots.
We knew it was coming but now the moment has finally arrived for Ford to reveal the all-new 2020 Explorer SUV. The Explorer has been completely redesigned from the ground up with a rear-wheel-drive (yes, you heard that right) platform, which is likely shared with the recently-revealed Lincoln Aviator. Along with the new platform comes a revised design, updated interior, and a slew of new powertrains including a new hybrid variant and a sporty ST model.
Under the hood, Ford will offer a variety of EcoBoost engines, the most potent of which will be a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 estimated to produce 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque on 93-octane gasoline, making this the most powerful Explorer yet. There's also a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo which is quite potent at 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
These are the only two powertrains Ford has announced for now; we'll have to wait until Ford's conference at the Detroit Auto Show next week to hear about the hybrid and ST models. The 2020 Explorer will be available in XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST and Platinum trims. The XLT and Limited trims will use the 2.3-liter engine while the 3.0-liter V6 is reserved for the platinum trim.
Buyers will have the option to select between RWD or AWD with up to seven selectable drive modes. RWD models include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco modes while AWD variants add deep snow and sand modes. Clearly, Ford expects the Explorer to be used both on an off-road.
This new Explorer will also be more capable than the outgoing model with the V6 boasting a 5,600-pound tow rating (a 12% increase over the outgoing 3.5-liter EcoBoost). Even the four-cylinder models can tow 5,300 pounds when equipped with the Class III Trailer Tow Package (compared to just 3,000 pounds in the previous generation Explorer).
Towing isn't the only area where the new Explorer is more practical. Ford paid special attention to cabin storage for small items such as bottles and cell phones. The cabin boasts 123 cubic liters of storage space, spread out amongst all three rows of seats. Larger items can also be accommodated thanks to available PowerFold third-row seats and new E-Z entry second-row seats, which can create a flat-floor cargo area with 171 cubic feet of space.
Passengers will be equally as comfortable with available sun shades in the second row and redesigned ISOFIX anchor points to make installing a child seat easy in both the second and third rows. Accessing the third row is now easier than ever thanks to a new mechanism which can be used with only one hand.
Ford hasn't skimped up front either, providing the driver with a host of new infotainment and safety features. Ford's Sync3 infotainment system is now controlled on a 10.1-inch touchscreen mounted in a portrait configuration. Having a larger screen allows drivers to display a full map, or split the screen between two functions (such as audio). As always, Sync3 includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Waze integration and can now be attached to a 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O premium audio system, which is standard on Limited and Platinum models.
Below the infotainment screen, the Explorer features an optional wireless charging pad as well up to four USB ports (including new USB-C outlets), up to three 12-volt outlets, and a 110-volt outlet. Directly in front of the driver sits an available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster, which can be configured to show different types of information. All three rows of occupants will also enjoy standard FordPass Connect, providing 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices.
All Explorer models come with the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of safety systems as standard. This includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, dynamic brake support, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping, a rearview camera with a built-in lens cleaner, and automatic high beams. Optionally, the Explorer can also be fitted with adaptive cruise control and speed sign recognition.
Co-Pilot360 also includes a new system called Evasive Steering Assist, which uses the steering to help avoid a collision, as well as Post-Impact Braking, which applies the brakes after a collision to lessen injury. "It’s not about filling the vehicle with technology for technology’s sake,” said Chris Billman, Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager. "It’s about improving the experience, making driving less stressful, and helping the driver to feel more confident behind the wheel.”
The new Explorer has certainly exceeded our expectations inside and under the hood, though we wish the exterior design was more of a departure from the outgoing model. Ford says this new model has a more sloping roofline and shorter front overhang in order to give it a more sleek and sporty appearance. 18-inch wheels are included as standard, though buyers can choose from up to seven wheel designs including 21-inchers on the Platinum model. Platinum trims also include a twin-panel moonroof, special leather seats as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and front console armrests.
Amazingly, Ford has managed to bundle all of these features together for only $400 more than the outgoing model, which started at $32,365. Ford says the 2020 Explorer will be available in dealerships starting in the Summer of 2019.