2020 Ford Explorer Debuts with All-new Design and Rear-wheel Drive

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2020 Ford Explorer

Ford makes up for lost time by giving the 2020 Explorer a clean-sheet redesign with plenty of exciting new features.

If it seems like the current Explorer is getting a little long in the tooth, well, that’s because it is. The best-selling SUV in American history hasn’t received a fresh sheet redesign since 2011, in fact. But Ford is more than making up for that lull with the entirely new 2020 Explorer, which the brand debuted ahead of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. And this time around, the perennial best-seller has a few new tricks up its sleeve.

The biggest surprise, of course, is the Explorer’s return to its rear-wheel drive roots. It sheds its old car-based front-wheel drive platform in favor of an all-new modular layout that it shares with the Lincoln Aviator (and perhaps the Mustang of the future?). As usual, all-wheel drive is optional. This new chassis also allowed the Blue Oval to give the 2020 Explorer a meaner, leaner and wider body with shorter overhangs than the outgoing model.

2020 Ford Explorer

Power for base Explorer models comes from the familiar 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine producing 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to Ford’s excellent 10-speed automatic transmission. Stepping up to the top-level Platinum trim nabs you the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, which produces 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Aiding both acceleration and fuel economy is the fact that the new Explorer has shed a full 200 pounds over the outgoing model.

2020 Ford Explorer

Towing capacity increases by 600 pounds to 5,600 for the V6 model, which is undoubtedly impressive. But the 2.3 takes a huge jump when equipped with the towing package, leaping from 3,000 pounds all the way to 5,300.

Those seeking more in terms of economy or performance can now also opt for a hybrid or ST Explorer for the very first time. These new models join the base, XLT, Limited, and Platinum in the Explorer lineup. Ford plans to release more information on those two additions from the Detroit Auto Show when it officially kicks off. We expect to learn more about pricing at that time as well. Though Ford did peg the base Explorer’s starting price at $33,860 – just $400 more than the outgoing model.

2020 Ford Explorer

The same information embargo applies to most specs, including interior measurements. But Ford promises that the 2020 Explorer will lead its class in that regard. Mostly thanks to a 6-inch increase in wheelbase and smarter packaging. The interior certainly looks like a nice place to be, with a new customizable 12.3-inch digital cluster. The new Explorer comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen or optional 10.1-inch capacitive screen that looks like a proper tablet.

2020 Ford Explorer

Third-row access gets easier thanks to a single button second-row fold/slide setup and wide step. All three rows feature adjustable climate control, while front seats are heated and cooled with 8-way adjustment and massage. New acoustic glass and active noise cancellation keeps things nice and quiet. And there are six different drive modes, or seven if you opt for
all-wheel drive and the advanced terrain management system.

2020 Ford Explorer

Unsurprisingly, the new 2020 Explorer also comes packed with a host of driver-assist technology. Class-exclusive Active Park Assist 2.0 tech allows the driver to parallel park with the touch of a button. Reverse brake assist is also available, along with Ford’s all-new Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition. Ford Co-Pilot360, which includes goodies like Lane-Keeping, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Blind Spot Information System, is standard on all 2020 Explorer models.

2020 Ford Explorer

Ford waited quite a while to give its trailblazing SUV a full makeover. But it sure looks like the wait will be worth it. So, stay tuned as we prepare to receive all the details on the exciting new Explorer in the coming days!

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other sites.

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