Edmunds travels to the Pacific Northwest to test-drive the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer, the all-new sixth generation of this popular family SUV. There’s a lot to examine here because this is a comprehensive redesign that includes a switch back to rear-wheel drive, an enlarged interior, improved tech features and no less than four available powertrains — one of which is a new hybrid.
This new Explorer does not disappoint on any number of levels. Compared to last year, the new rear-drive chassis represents a big step forward in stability and ride comfort. The roomy new interior is comfortable and spacious, and, despite a few minor quibbles with interior materials, we found it to be an enjoyable road-trip machine. Its base 2.3-liter engine is perfectly adequate, and the hybrid is both smooth-driving and capable. Yes, even the hybrid can venture off-road and tow a boat as well as the rest of them. The new Explorer is better in almost every way, but the price can get expensive if you get too enthusiastic with the extensive options sheet.
About the Ford Explorer
The new 2020 Ford Explorer is redesigned from the ground up. It boasts a new rear-wheel-drive platform, a larger cabin and new driver safety features.
The base 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder develops more power than last year and comes standard on the base, XLT and Limited trims. At the top of the line, you’ll find the sport-minded ST and the Platinum. A gutsy new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 powers both, but the ST’s is tuned to produce even more power and torque. Also interesting is the new Limited Hybrid, which promises respectable power and high fuel economy for an SUV.
We’re also impressed by the new safety features. Every Explorer comes with the Co-Pilot360 suite, which includes blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and pre-collision warning. A more robust version of the system is optional on the next trim level up, meaning that even modestly priced Explorers can be equipped with the full complement of driving aids.
The sixth-generation Explorer looks to be an exciting new chapter for the venerable SUV, and one that might shake up the midsize three-row segment. It still faces strong competition from the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, and Toyota Highlander, but overall we think the Explorer will be a top model you’ll want to check out this year.
Ford Explorer Models
The 2020 Ford Explorer is a three-row midsize SUV with seating for seven, or six if you opt for the second-row captain’s chairs. The base model is well-equipped and comes with a solid number of safety and convenience features for a wallet-friendly price.
Next up is the Explorer Limited, which adds leather and most of the XLT’s optional extras. A Limited Hybrid is also available. Finally, the ST adds a high-output V6 and performance upgrades, and the luxurious Platinum comes with (almost) all the bells and whistles the Explorer offers.
The high-octane Ford Explorer ST unleashes the fury with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (400 hp, 415 lb-ft), 20-inch wheels and a sport-tuned suspension. It also adds special styling cues, the Trailer Tow package (optional on XLT and Limited models), an auto-dimming exterior mirror on the driver’s side, a digital instrument panel, sport front seats, automated parallel and perpendicular parking, and reverse automatic emergency braking.
At the top of the Explorer hierarchy is the luxe Explorer Platinum. It has the same engine as the ST but with a lower power output (365 hp, 380 lb-ft). You also get adaptive headlights, unique taillights, a two-piece sunroof (optional on the XLT and the Limited), leather-wrapped interior trim, and upgraded leather upholstery.
Read our 2020 Ford Explorer Review: https://www.edmunds.com/ford/explorer/2020/
Watch our Ford Explorer First Look Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5UIz5WGac
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