Update: Live photos from the 2019 Detroit Auto Show added to the gallery below.
The Ford Explorer returns to its roots. Well, sort of. After almost a decade of sitting on front-wheel-drive underpinnings, the 2020 Explorer once again mounts its engine longitudinally and sends its power toward the rear wheels. It’s still a unibody chassis, but that’s not stopping Ford from adding to the Explorer’s inherent capability.
Featuring a standard turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that Ford projects will produce more than 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, the standard Explorer is able to tow up to 5,300 pounds when equipped with the Tow package. That figure bests the 2019 Explorer’s 280-hp inline-four’s maximum towing capacity by 3,300 pounds, and the current 365-hp twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6’s by 300.
Those in search of more grunt and capability can once again equip the Explorer with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The new 3.0-liter engine is expected to make 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, the latter of which betters the prior EcoBoost V6 engine by 30 lb-ft. The extra oomph helps V6-equipped Explorers tow up to 5,600 pounds. Regardless of engine, every Explorer comes standard with a 10-speed automatic transmission, while all-wheel-drive remains an available extra.
Gallery: 2020 Ford Explorer
The 2020 Explorer is as much a family vehicle as it is a workhorse, and Ford blesses its three-row crossover with a new sliding second-row seat that eases entry to the rearmost row. Cargo capacity rises to 87.8 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded, or 6.1 cubic feet more than the current Explorer.
As in the current Explorer, the new crossover is offered in base, XLT, Limited, and Platinum trims, the latter of which is available exclusively with the EcoBoost V6 engine. No matter the engine or trim, all 2020 Explorers boast standard comfort and convenience features such as a power-operated rear hatch, a 4G LTE WiFi hot spot that can host up to 10 devices, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. A larger 10.1-inch setup is also available, as is a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.
On the safety front, every Explorer now includes Co-Pilot360, the Blue Oval’s suite of passive and active safety features that consists of a blind-spot monitor with a cross-traffic alert system, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and a forward collision system with automatic braking and pedestrian detection. Additionally, the Explorer is available with an adaptive cruise control system with lane-centering technology, an automatic rear braking system, and Ford’s latest parking assistant, dubbed Active Park Assist 2.0, which is able to parallel or perpendicularly park the Explorer without the driver needing to touch the steering wheel or pedals.
The latest Explorer promises a return to form for Ford’s nearly 30-year-old nameplate thanks to its rear-drive-based platform, its powerful engine options, and its multitude of standard safety and convenience features. Look for the 2020 Ford Explorer to go on sale this summer with a base price of $32,765.
Photos: Chris Amos Photography
DETROIT, Jan. 9, 2019 – Ford today introduces its all-new 2020 Explorer – a complete redesign that now features the broadest model lineup ever, more power and space, and smart new technologies to help tackle life’s adventures.
Explorer is now more capable, comfortable, sportier and roomier in all three rows thanks to Ford’s flexible new rear-wheel-drive architecture. The strengths of the all-new Ford Explorer were showcased at a special reveal event for employees, fans, dealers, suppliers, government officials, and media today at Ford Field in Detroit, where Ford brought to life how it can help American families get the most out of their road trips. The all-new SUV arrives this summer.
“Explorer drivers told us what they want – more capability, more power, more space,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s head of product development and purchasing. “They want more technology, not just for the driver, but for the whole family. And they want all of it with a beautifully sporty exterior. This new Explorer gives them all of that, and more, helping make every journey more enjoyable.”
Improved off-road capability comes courtesy of intelligent four-wheel drive and an available new Terrain Management System™ that features seven easy-to-engage drive modes. Powertrain offerings include a 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost® V6 projected to produce 365 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque using 93-octane gas, making this the most powerful Explorer ever. The Explorer lineup now features standard, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST and Platinum models.
The all-new Explorer comes packed with more than a dozen new standard features for only $400 more over the previous model. Standard features include a power liftgate, 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine with all-new 10-speed transmission, 8-inch digital touch screen with SYNC® 3, FordPass Connect™ Wi-Fi service for up to 10 devices and more.
Owners will find design and engineering updates throughout that deliver comfort and SUV functionality. Explorer’s stylish, sloped-roof silhouette protects rear-seat headroom, while its comfort-enhanced second-row seats slide to improve access to the third row.
“We obsessed about what Explorer customers need and want,” said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer. “We met with customer groups, pored through internet forums, and dissected social media posts to determine what they love about today’s Explorer and understand their pain points. Then we found ways to improve it across the board. Every enhancement on this all-new Explorer was inspired by our customers.”
Technology designed to heighten the experience of traveling
Building upon Ford’s push to bring more driver-assist technology to market, the all-new Explorer introduces available Active Park Assist 2.0. The class-exclusive feature – standard on Explorer Platinum – allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with a touch of a button without having to work the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal or brake pedal. Available reverse brake assist, also standard on Platinum, uses radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect an object in Explorer’s path, and can apply the brakes automatically to avoid an imminent collision when the vehicle is backing up at a low speed – such as when exiting a driveway.
Explorer also is available with Ford’s all-new Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition. In addition to automatically slowing when traffic ahead slows and helping keep the vehicle centered in its lane, the system uses cameras to read speed signs and, combined with the available navigation system, adjusts cruise control settings accordingly.
Explorer comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360™, a suite of driver-assist technologies including:
- Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, which includes Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning and Dynamic Brake Support
- Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert
- Lane-Keeping System
- Rearview camera with built-in lens cleaner
- Auto headlamps with auto high-beams
Other available Ford Co-Pilot360 technologies include Evasive Steering Assist, which provides steering support to help avoid a collision; and Post-Impact Braking provides braking after a collision to lessen injury and damage caused by a secondary crash event.
“It’s not about filling the vehicle with technology for technology’s sake,” said Chris Billman, Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager. “It’s about improving the experience, making driving less stressful, and helping the driver to feel more confident behind the wheel.”
Passengers in all three rows will enjoy FordPass Connect, a standard feature that serves up 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices with a compatible wireless subscription service. FordPass Connect gives drivers remote access to their Explorer, allowing them to use their smartphone to lock, unlock, locate and start the vehicle, as well as monitor key vehicle diagnostics.
Explorer features an available 10.1-inch touch screen mounted in portrait configuration on the center stack. Navigation maps can fill the entire screen for easy viewing, or split the space with audio information. The screen uses capacitive glass comparable to what consumers are accustomed to on smartphones and tablets, providing a quicker, more responsive interaction with the updated SYNC 3 system. Standard SYNC 3’s more intuitive layout gives drivers compatibility with available features such as Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto®, and Waze navigation.
A wireless charging pad is available that allows customers to recharge compatible mobile devices, and up to four USB ports, including new type-C outlets, charge next-generation mobile devices. Up to three 12-volt outlets and a 110-volt outlet are also available.
For music lovers, Explorer offers an available 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O premium audio system. Access to SiriusXM™ satellite radio is standard and comes with new touch screen graphics and functionality – including a display of the day’s sports scores. HD Radio™ is standard on Limited and Platinum models.
The touch screen shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster, which displays important vehicle information such as speedometer and gas gauge. It uses 3D animated graphics to change information depending on which of the seven drive modes are selected using the available Terrain Management System.
Meticulously recrafted to be the best Explorer ever
Ford’s recipe for Explorer has always relied on three main ingredients – capability, comfort, and design. The new rear-wheel-drive architecture enables bumper-to-bumper improvements that include an even more athletic appearance, increased capability and the best passenger accommodations in an Explorer ever.
The powerful new engine lineup features a pair of EcoBoost entries – a 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 that comes standard on base, XLT and Limited models, and a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that powers Explorer Platinum. The reinvigorated 2.3-liter engine is projected to produce 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, both improvements over the outgoing Explorer equipped with the same engine.
“A vehicle like Explorer can’t just be good-looking,” said Craig Patterson, Ford SUV marketing manager. “Explorer customers need it to do certain things. They need to be able to drive certain places and haul specific items. This Explorer performs no matter what adventures you have in store.”
Up to seven selectable drive modes are available for customers to tailor their drive experience to road, weather and terrain conditions on demand. Rear-wheel-only Explorer drive modes include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco. Vehicles equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive add a deep snow and sand mode for improved performance off-road.
Rear-wheel drive also enables more towing capability when properly equipped, regardless of engine. Vehicles equipped with a 3.0-liter EcoBoost can tow up to 5,600 pounds, a 12 percent increase over outgoing models with 3.5-liter EcoBoost. New models outfitted with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost and Class III Trailer Tow Package can tow up to 5,300 pounds, versus the 3,000 pounds today’s similarly equipped Explorer is capable of.
Hauling boats and trailers was certainly a priority for the Explorer team, but so was accommodating smaller items such as everyday drink bottles and cell phones. With every detail scrutinized, the new Explorer can boast 123 cubic liters of stowage space throughout the cabin, giving passengers in all three rows no shortage of places to stow personal items.
Available PowerFold® third-row seats and new E-Z entry second-row seats let drivers create a flat-floor cargo area that stretches out to offer nearly 87.8 cubic feet of space – wide enough to fit standard 4-foot building materials, depending on seating configuration. Accommodating families of all sizes, second-row seats feature a new mechanism that allows for easy entrance and exit to the third row using just one hand. Redesigned ISOFIX anchor points allow child seat installation anywhere in the second and third rows. Second-row windows are equipped with available retractable sunshades.
A stylish, modern design that is pure Explorer
A number of consistent design qualities have helped define Explorer over the past 29 years, and the design team strived to hold on to these important pieces of heritage. Longtime traits – including Explorer’s blacked-out A-pillars and D-pillars and body-color C-pillars – are retained. Changes to the overall profile include a more sloping roofline and shorter front overhang, giving the vehicle a sportier, more stylish appearance.
Explorer comes standard with 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, but across the lineup drivers can opt for one of seven wheel designs, including 21-inch premium aluminum wheels available on Platinum models. Other Platinum differentiators include door handles with satin aluminum insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside cladding insert, roof-rack side rails and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish.
Platinum models also feature a standard twin-panel moonroof, which allows light to flood the most comfortable Explorer cabin ever. Explorer Platinum includes special leather seats, plus leather-wrapped steering wheel, dashboard, door rollovers, and door and front console armrests.
The all-new Explorer is manufactured at Chicago Assembly Plant. New vehicles are due in showrooms this summer.