Update: Live photos from the 2019 Detroit Auto Show added to the gallery below.
The Ford Explorer Sport is dead. In its stead is the 2020 Ford Explorer ST, a high-horsepower variant of the Blue Oval’s redesigned three-row crossover.
Equipped with a 400-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, the Explorer ST is able to scoot itself to a top speed of 143 miles per hour, per Ford. As in the run-of-the-mill 2020 Explorer, the ST comes standard with a 10-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is also standard. Hopefully, Ford will offer a rear-wheel-drive Explorer ST in the future so we can live our dream of drifting this three-row crossover with our family in tow.
While the extra grunt of the six-cylinder engine is enticing, consumers looking for greater lateral performance can check the option box for either the ST Street or ST Track packages. Both add 21-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and higher-performing brakes to the mix.
Regardless, every Explorer ST includes a Sport driving mode that adds extra heft to the power-steering system, improves throttle response, alters the transmission mapping, and plugs additional engine noise into the cabin.
Visually, the ST benefits from model-specific cues such as a black mesh-pattern grille and black tailgate applique, as well as special lower fascia and side-panel elements and roof rack rails. Meanwhile, the interior adds a flat-bottom steering wheel, special floor mats, and more bolstered leather seats with contrast stitching.
Although Ford is not yet sharing pricing details for the ST, we expect it to be one of the most expensive 2020 Explorer trims, as the high-performance model comes standard with high-end kit such as a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, trailer tow package, and Ford’s Active Park Assist 2.0 automatic parking system that allows the ST to park itself both parallelly and perpendicularly without driver intervention.
Photos: Chris Amos Photography
Gallery: 2020 Ford Explorer ST
DETROIT, Jan. 14, 2019 – Capping its broadest-ever lineup of Explorer SUVs, Ford revealed today two all-new models that will take Explorer drivers faster and further than ever before.
The all-new Explorer ST and the all-new Explorer hybrid complete a lineup that includes a wide range of driver and passenger comforts, an assortment of technologies that improve every drive, and new powertrain options that deliver a range of power and uncompromising efficiency.
The full Explorer family, which follows on the heels of the hot-selling new Expedition, goes on sale this summer. As Ford’s SUV sales leader, Explorer will set the pace for the rest of Ford’s utility lineup, which continues growing this year with an all-new Escape – and more.
“This new generation of Explorer recognizes that every family – and every driver – is unique,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president of product development and purchasing. “With an all-new ST and an all-new hybrid, there truly is an Explorer for every adventure.”
The newest additions to the all-new Explorer family – built at Ford Chicago Assembly Plant – will join base, XLT, Limited and Platinum models in showrooms.
ST thrills continue with all-new Explorer ST
Continuing the expansion of the ST brand that began with Edge ST, the all-new Explorer ST is the most powerful and fun-to-drive Ford SUV ever.
Engineered by the Ford Performance team, Explorer ST uses a specially tuned 3.0-liter EcoBoost® engine projected to achieve 400 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft. of torque. A top speed target for track drivers stands at 143 mph.
“We designed it to be an ST from the beginning,” said Ed Krenz, Ford Performance chief functional engineer. “There’s no mistaking its ST DNA. It has a performance feel with sustained performance capability, and wears an unmistakably ST appearance. More than anything, it's just a hell of a lot of fun to drive.”
Explorer ST delivers an engaging driving experience with a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and standard four-wheel drive with selectable traction control. Available upgrades include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack. Both feature 21-inch aluminum wheels and red-painted brake calipers, with differing levels of performance brakes.
As with Edge ST, Explorer ST offers a Sport mode that lets drivers select an even more exhilarating ride. When engaged via the Selectable Drive Mode dial in the center console, the steering system tightens for sportier reaction, the gas pedal responds more aggressively, gears hold longer and shift quicker, and an enhanced engine note plays through the cabin.
Visually, Explorer ST stands apart from the rest of the lineup courtesy of a black mesh grille insert, liftgate applique, lower bodyside details, roof-rack side rails and skid plate elements. “EXPLORER” badging stretches across the front edge of the hood.
Inside, a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is standard. A flat-bottomed heated steering wheel embossed with an ST logo, as well as unique floor mats, are subtle ST-exclusive cues. Leather sport bucket seats with micro-perforations, City Silver accent stitching and ST logo complete the sporty feel.
Explorer ST also comes standard with a Class III Trailer Tow Package with Cargo Management System and Active Park Assist 2.0, Ford’s new driver-assist parking system that takes control of the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake pedal and gear shifter during parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers with a simple touch of a button.
Explorer hybrid offers no-compromise efficiency
Ford is reinventing the standard for what a hybrid can be, and this year is introducing an entirely new generation of hybrids that bring out the best in hybrid vehicles with great performance and the freedom to go further.
The all-new Explorer hybrid – available as features a 3.3-liter hybrid powertrain is projected to produce 318 horsepower combined and is targeting a range of more than 500 miles between gas station fill-ups in the rear-wheel-drive model*.
An all-new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission provides SUV capability. A specially designed liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery is built into the Explorer chassis below the second-row seats to preserve cargo and passenger space, unlike previous hybrid vehicles.
“Lost cargo space in hybrids is a thing of the past for Ford customers,” said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer.
Other standard Limited trim level equipment includes Active Noise Cancellation to reduce unwanted noise in the cabin, Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+™ driver-assist technologies, leather seats with micro-perforations and accent stitching, second-row heated seats, a 14-speaker B&O premium sound system, wireless phone charging pad and 10-way power adjustable driver and front passenger seats.
*Actual range will vary. Final EPA-estimated ratings available in the 2019 calendar year.
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