The Ford Explorer has been the quintessential four-door mid-size SUV for decades now, so we have all come to expect a lot from this model over the years. With a new generation, those expectations only grow and it becomes difficult to hide our excitement as every little detail leaks out from behind Ford’s doors. Fortunately, the 2020 Ford Explorer is everything we hoped it would be and more, with new trim levels, tremendous power and performance, and some of the best tech and safety options imaginable.
One of the standout aspects of the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer is the shift back to a rear-wheel drive system that provides a far better experience, assuming you do not opt for a four-wheel drive model. The engines are more efficient and powerful than ever, and there is even a hybrid option this year that offers better fuel economy without sacrificing performance. With the addition of a performance-focused ST trim level, there are even more Explorers than ever before to check out and get excited about.
The fact that this is a new generation for the Explorer is apparent inside and out, with new designs and features all over the place, including some of the best tech features in the cabin that you will find anywhere. This includes an available wireless charging pad, numerous USB ports, and one of the largest infotainment displays on the market. Everything is clearly designed to be user-friendly and engineered with sophistication from the ground up, especially as you move to the high-end trim levels that offer even more impressive features in the cabin.
There are several different engines available in the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer, though they are largely restricted by trim level, so keep that in mind as you consider your options. While the first two are not particularly revolutionary compared to the 2019 model, they are still improvements. Even though they may not seem hugely different in terms of raw numbers, the performance they deliver is far superior.
The standard engine for the 2020 Ford Explorer is a 2.3L EcoBoost that is basically a returning engine from last year’s model. Output has been boosted, however, as it now produces up to 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, plus it comes with a ten-speed automatic transmission. Perhaps the most impressive upgrade here is that the redesign now allows it to have a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,300 lbs while last year it capped out at just 3,000 lbs.
At the Platinum trim level, there is a turbocharged 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine that is much improved from last year. This engine can produce up to 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, offering a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,600 lbs. It also has a ten-speed automatic transmission.
If you are interested in the highest level of performance with the 2020 Ford Explorer, then the brand new ST trim is the way to go. It has a 3.0L V6 engine that provides up to 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque for very impressive performance. The Explorer ST has a top speed of 143 mph, leaving other mid-size SUVs in the dust.
Finally, there is a new hybrid option available as well. This is a naturally aspirated 3.3L V6 engine with an electric motor that offers up to 318 hp combined. With a ten-speed automatic transmission, the hybrid’s focus is on fuel economy over power, which means there is an Explorer for pretty much anyone this year, no matter what you look for in a vehicle.
More trim levels are available for the 2020 Ford Explore than before, and each one is a meaningful step up or change from the base model. The Explorer XLT is the starting point and has a 2.3L EcoBoost engine plus great features inside and out. This is a solid model that focuses on balance by providing good power, good towing capacity, and solid fuel economy without leaning too far into any of those features.
From there, you can step up to the Limited, which provides more features and options but still focuses primarily on a strong balance. The Limited includes features that are optional for the XLT, such as a heated steering wheel and voice-activated navigation. While the XLT has second-row bench seating, the Limited has captain seats – so you can fit one less person into the Limited, but the seats are more comfortable.
The Platinum is the pinnacle trim level for drivers interested in a standard experience. It comes with a more powerful engine and more impressive features standard. For example, it has a twin-panel moonroof, which is optional on the Limited, and more safety features included.
If you are more interested in performance, then the ST is the best option for you, since it comes with the most powerful engine available on the 2020 Ford Explorer. Additional features such as a unique steering wheel and ST badging also set this trim level apart from the others. Finally, the Hybrid trim provides sophistication and excellence, with a hybrid engine. This is the best option if you are more interested in optimal fuel economy than speed and power.
The inside of the new 2020 Ford Explorer really is a marvel, with some of the best features and options we have ever seen. The standard trim level includes a second-row bench seat that allows seven people to comfortably sit inside the vehicle – while higher trim levels change that to a pair of captain chairs and seating for six. Although not much larger overall than previous models, the 2020 update includes more interior space for passengers in all three rows.
Interior tech features include an available 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system along with voice-activated navigation and USB ports in the front and in the second row. There is an available wireless charging area for compatible devices and numerous 12-volt outlets plus a 110-volt outlet for all your charging needs.
The real standout features, however, include an absolutely gorgeous 12-inch digital instrument cluster that comes standard on the Platinum and ST trim levels. An available 10-inch LCD portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system is stunning and feels more like an included tablet or oversized smartphone than an antiquated vehicle display. These two features definitely stand out among other mid-size SUVs on the market and blew us away the first time we saw them.
Powerful engines and impressive technology in the cabin are great, but none of that matters if a vehicle cannot keep you safe. Fortunately, the 2020 Ford Explorer includes some of the best safety features around and is clearly designed from the ground up to make sure you get where you are going without incident. Whether you are planning a long road trip or just heading to the store, these features will protect you day and night.
The 2020 Ford Explorer has auto high-beam headlamps that detect when there is poor lighting and come on automatically for you. Better yet, the system detects oncoming traffic and dims the high-beams automatically for you, so you can keep both hands on the wheel and not have to worry about blinding other drivers. Other safety features include a rearview camera with a built-in washer to keep the lens clean, a lane-keeping system that warns you when you start to drift and even pops up a coffee icon if you have drifted several times to suggest taking a break, and automatic emergency braking that engages to help you avoid potential collisions.
There is also a blind spot information system that alerts you when a vehicle is in an area you might not be able to see from your side mirrors, as well as a cross-traffic alert that detects traffic or people moving behind you while you are in reverse. The 2020 Ford Explorer includes AdvanceTrac with roll stability control and trailer sway control to help you tow heavy items behind you more safely. If you tend to encounter a lot of different terrain types, then you will appreciate the intelligent 4WD system with Terrain Management that lets you easily select a drive mode ideal for different conditions such as deep snow, wet roads, and towing.