This is a big year for a big vehicle as Ford rolls out a redesigned Explorer SUV. This utility’s slick new body rides on a rear-wheel drive platform after nearly a decade of front-wheel based Explorers. But while the earliest generations of Explorer were RWD, this is a much different beast. Those truck-based models were designed for utility over handling where the new Explorer’s platform will eventually underpin the Mustang sports car.
The venerable Explorer competes with a range of vehicles including the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride. We’d argue it has the most in common with the Dodge Durango, which is also based on a rear-drive platform. However, its performance variants derive their power from old-school V8s instead of modern turbo motors.
The 2020 Ford Explorer comes in XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, Platinum and ST trims.
ST models put a new emphasis on performance with a 3.0L turbo V6 making 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. A lesser version of that motor is available with 365 hp and 380 lb-ft.
Base Explorer trims get a 2.3L turbo four-cylinder with 300 hp and 310 lb-ft, and a first-ever Explorer Hybrid pairs a V6 with an electric motor for 318 hp.
All Explorer models use a 10-speed automatic transmission and Canadian versions will come standard with AWD.
As we write this, Ford had not revealed full feature lists for the various Explorer trims. However, we do know the new Explorer boasts a number of impressive standard and optional items.
New technology on offer includes an improved self-parking setup that handles the entire job where the old system required the driver to work the brakes. Ford’s latest adaptive cruise control reads speed limit signs and adjusts the car’s speed accordingly. A new intelligent lane centering feature can shift the car to the far side of its lane if the vehicle next to it is crowding the dotted line.
Drivers of the 2020 Ford Explorer enjoy a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with animated display modes that vary depending on the drive mode chosen. The Sync 3 infotainment system is based in a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, and a 10.1-inch display is optional.
Sync includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and can be optioned with a 14-speaker stereo.
As of this writing, Ford has not published fuel consumption figures for the 2020 Explorer. We anticipate ratings for the new 2.3L model will be similar to those for the 2019 model at around 13.0/9.0 L/100 km (city/highway). Explorer ST and trims with the lesser version of its engine will have ratings around 15.0/11 L/100 km. We expect the Explorer Hybrid to come in with estimates of no more than 9.0 L/100 km, and they’ll probably be better (lower) than that in city driving.