2020 Ford Explorer is Way Better in Every Way
Bigger, more powerful, more capable and rear-wheel-drive make the newest Explorer the best yet.
Earlier this week, the 2020 Ford Explorer debuted at a private event in the Detroit Lion’s home stadium, Ford Field. When coupled with the media preview the week before, I have gotten a good look at the all-new sport utility vehicle and I am strangely enamored with the new Explorer.
At first glance, the 2020 Explorer looks similar to the current version on the outside, but in a side-by-side comparison, the new model is slightly larger on the outside and significantly roomier on the inside. These new dimensions are one of the key benefits of the new rear-wheel-drive chassis that is the backbone of the next generation Explorer.
Today, we bring you a closer look at the key aspects of the 2020 Ford Explorer and how they make one of the best-selling SUVs of all time even better.
In the world of generational changes, there aren’t many shifts that are more dramatic than that from front-drive to rear-drive architecture, but that is the heart of the next generation Ford Explorer. The version that is on sale today and has been since 2011 was based on a front-wheel-drive chassis, but for 2020, the Explorer returns to the rear-wheel-drive design that had underpinned all of the earlier models dating back to the 1990s.
Of course, all-wheel-drive is optional on most models while being standard on the top-of-the-line Platinum model, but even in the models that send power to all four wheels, the move to rear-drive should lead to improved driving dynamics. Improvements in weight distribution, the new suspension setup and a wider stance should lead to improved handling without compromising ride quality.
For those who don’t care about driving dynamics of off-roading, the rear-wheel-drive chassis allowed the engineers to stretch the wheelbase and shorten the overhang areas, creating a larger interior while the vehicle’s overall length only grew a bit.
In addition to being better on-road, Ford promises that the new Explorer will be better off-road as well. In addition to the new chassis and the new suspension setup, the new Terrain Management System coupled with the drive mode system will make the new Explorer more capable in every type of loose footing, from mud to sand to snow.
For those who don’t care about driving dynamics of off-roading, the rear-wheel-drive chassis allowed the engineers to stretch the wheelbase and shorten the overhang areas, creating a larger interior while the overall length of the vehicle only grew a bit. In other words, the interior is considerably larger, but the vehicle is not, making it just as maneuverable as the current models in tight spaces while offering more passenger space.
Finally, this new chassis lowers the weight by an average of 200 pounds across the lineup, which makes it slightly more efficient in terms of power use and fuel economy.
Powerful Turbocharged Engines
The 2020 Ford Explorer is offered with two EcoBoost engines, a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V6. The 2.3-liter mill is a revised version of the engine already in use, but for 2020, the company is projecting 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque while the current version of the engine offered 280 horsepower and the same 310 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine is new and offers a combination of 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, replacing the 3.5-liter EcoBoost in the current Explorer that delivers the same horsepower, but just 350 lb-ft of torque.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder is the most powerful “base” engine for an Explorer and the new 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 is the most powerful premium engine offered to date, so the 2020 Explorer is technically the most powerful vehicle to wear the nameplate. When paired with the standard 10-speed automatic transmission, the 2020 models equipped with either engine should be quite a bit quicker than the current models, but more importantly, the next generation Explorer is more capable than ever.
The 2020 Explorer with the new V6 can tow 5,600 pounds, up 600 pounds compared to the strongest 2019 models, but the big improvement comes for the base engine. When properly equipped, the 2020 Explorer with the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost can tow 5,300 pounds while the current 4-cylinder models can only tow 3,000 pounds.
The 2.3l EcoBoost 4-cylinder is the most powerful ‘base’ engine for an Explorer, and the new 3.0l EcoBoost V6 is the most powerful premium engine ever offered, so the 2020 Explorer is technically the most powerful vehicle to wear the nameplate.
This increase in towing capacity will allow prospective buyers who want to tow something like a two-horse trailer, a small utility trailer or a small boat to opt for the less-expensive, more-efficient 4-cylinder engine while the current Explorer requires buyers to get the V6 to tow trailers up around 5,000 pounds.
Finally, we don’t have any fuel economy numbers, but we can expect that the 2020 Explorer will be more fuel-friendly than outgoing models across every configuration thanks to the new 10-speed transmission and the lower curb weight.