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2020 Ford Explorer Overview

The midsize Ford Explorer has been around for nearly 30 years and was most recently redesigned in 2011. That year the SUV traded its truck-based construction and straightforward, upright shape for a car-based structure with an increased focus on comfort, style, and space. For Ford, that was a real gamble, but it was one that paid off, as the Explorer’s sales grew explosively. With that in mind, Ford continues with an all-new 2020 Explorer, improved in every way.

The redesigned Explorer keeps the style and basic shape of the one it replaces. It benefits from a new pseudo-hexagonal grille that’s similar to those found on Ford’s sports cars. From the sides, you'll notice a pronounced angle to the roofline and deep shoulder creases that run between the door handles on each side, creating a more muscular profile.

Ford set out to improve the interior of the new Explorer. In base trims, soft materials, logically grouped buttons, and tasteful applications of satin silver make the cabin feel welcoming. Upper trims get stitched leather and textile patterns that make a design case against cars that cost twice as much. As before, this three-row SUV can seat 7 people, with three spots in the second row and two in the third. The amount of space behind the third row has diminished slightly, at 18.2 cubic feet compared to last year’s 21, but that’s because Ford chose to use that space for third-row passengers. Meanwhile, the 47.9 and 87.8 cubic feet behind the second and first rows, respectively, measure larger than the old model’s 43.9 and 81.7.

Motor duty for the new model is handled by Ford’s EcoBoost range of turbocharged engines. The 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 from the previous base Explorer has been shown the door, replaced by the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline 4-cylinder from last year, massaged and tweaked to make 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, the former figure an increase of 20. If that’s not enough, there’s a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 on offer capable of 365 hp and 380 lb-ft. Both units mate to a new 10-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode. The smaller engine comes with standard rear-wheel drive (RWD), with an available all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, while the bigger engine gets standard AWD. The Explorer’s AWD setup features Ford’s revamped Terrain Management system with 7 drive modes. Towing capacity is also up, with a new maximum of 5,600 pounds, which is a 12 percent increase over the top figure on the old model. Finally, a hybrid powertrain is forthcoming, but Ford hasn’t yet provided details.

The new Explorer’s lineup consists of Base, XLT, Limited, ST (replacing the old Sport), and Platinum trims. Across those grades, you get standard features like 18-inch wheels, a power liftgate, an 8-inch infotainment system, and keyless start. All three rows benefit from FordPass Connect, allowing occupants to enjoy 4G LTE Wi-Fi on as many as 10 devices inside the car. It also lets you remotely lock, unlock, track, and start your vehicle. One impressive feature is the available 10.1-inch portrait-oriented infotainment screen, designed to feel as intuitive and premium as a modern smartphone. It pairs with an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with 3D animated graphics. The standard Sync 3 system was redesigned with a more intuitive layout and continues to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. Beyond that, available technology features include a wireless charging pad, up to four USB ports (including Type-C), three 12-volt outlets, a 110-volt outlet, a power-folding third row, and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker, 980-watt premium audio system.

Another focus of Ford’s technology initiative is safety, and that’s reflected in the redesigned Explorer. The brand’s Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features is standard fare, bundling forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, a reversing camera with a self-cleaning function, and automatic emergency braking. You can then tack on systems like evasive-steering assist, which aids you in steering around a potential collision, active park assist, and adaptive cruise control with traffic-sign recognition.

The redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer takes all of the previous model’s best aspects and enhances them. Look for it to arrive this summer.


Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.

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Ford Explorer Questions

Could A Full Size Spare Tire Be Stored In A 2020 Ford Explorer ST?

How Much Profit Are The Dealers Making On The 2020 Ford Explorer

My dealer is telling me that he is making 200 on a new 2020 ford explorer. Is he lying?