All-new from rubber to roof rails. The 2020 Ford Explorer is all-new, bringing in a sharp design and a potent range of powertrain options. With its redesign, the Explorer not only gets more powerful, it goes back to its roots with a big driveline update and truck-like design. With these and other key updates, Ford looks to prove its value in the mid-size three-row crossover segment.
Premium and peaceful interior. Inside, the Ford Explorer delivers a more car-like cabin than the previous generation that boasts a lower, more stylish dashboard. It also delivers a peaceful ride with a soft suspension system and plenty of sound-deadening materials.
A peaceful cabin is only part of the equation for the Explorer with its well-padded front and rear seats, and its 39 inches of rear leg room. The latter beats plenty competitors in its class, including the Toyota Highlander by 0.6 inches and the Subaru Ascent by 0.4 inches. The Explorer’s 18.2 cubic feet of cargo room with the third-row seats upright beats the Highlander by a whopping 4.4 cubes and the Ascent by 0.4 cubic feet.
The Explorer also has all the standard tech today’s crossover shoppers desire, including an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. These popular smartphone interfaces aren't available in the Highlander and are optional in the Honda Pilot. The one weak spot in the Explorer’s tech is the lag time in its infotainment system.
Back to roots in design and function. The Ford Explorer’s new looks go back to its roots, bringing in a more truck-like design SUV buyers crave. This flies in the face of most of the crossover segment, which includes mostly swoopy designs that have abandoned any resemblance to yesteryear’s SUVs.
The Explorer also looks to the past with its new platform. Instead of sitting atop a front-wheel-drive platform like most crossovers, the Explorer boasts a rear-wheel-drive platform with optional four-wheel drive.
New, more advanced engine options. Another huge update for the Ford Explorer is an advanced line of engine options that deliver fantastic performance. In its base trim, the Explorer’s turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder delivers 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Platinum trim uses a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 365 hp and 380 lb-ft.
The Explorer also gains a new performance version, the ST. The Explorer ST uses the Platinum trim’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, but Ford milked 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque from it. On top of its additional power, the ST gains a stiffer suspension and simulated engine noise in the cabin.
Standing out from others in its class is the new Limited Hybrid model that uses a 3.3-liter V6 and an electric motor to produce plenty of pop at 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque.
Final thoughts. With its long list of engine options that deliver plenty of power, up to a 5,600-pound towing capacity, a truck-like exterior, and a slick, feature-packed cabin, the 2020 Ford Explorer is a great option for most crossover buyers.
That said, its design may turn off buyers looking for the typical sleek crossover, and the Limited Hybrid will disappoint buyers seeking maximum fuel efficiency. With only an EPA-estimated 28 miles per gallon combined, the hybrid variant emphasizes performance and capability more than fuel economy.
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