The Ford Explorer was partly responsible for the rise in SUV sales since the 1990s. The 2020 model has a lot of useful capabilities and popular content. The Ford Explorer is designed for families, with three rows of seating and plenty of cargo space. The Ford’s powertrain options include a turbocharged four-cylinder and an efficient hybrid, as well as a powerful twin-turbo V-6. The Explorer offers something for everyone, including a comfortable ride and a sport-tuned design. The standard equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. The 2020 Explorer is a small SUV with a modest interior and a third row. However, it continues to serve the masses.
What’s new for 2020?
The Explorer looks very similar to the model it replaced, but it is brand new for 2020. It features a much improved ride, handling, interior features and modern powertrains.
The mid-level Limited model is our favorite Explorer. The only model available with the hybrid powertrain is the Limited, which adds $4150. The hybrid is a good choice for those who want to take advantage of the high EPA-rated city mpg. However, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine was more powerful and efficient on the highway. It can tow 5300 pounds when equipped the towing package. All-wheel drive would cost $2000. We’d keep the Limited trim’s standard features intact. The Limited trim features a 12-speaker B&O sound system, 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, power folding third row, heated and power-adjustable steering and enhanced driver assistance such as adaptive cruise control.
Transmission, Engine, and Performance
The Explorer’s base, XLT and limited trims all come standard with a turbocharged 300-hp turbocharged, 2.3-liter four cylinder engine. This engine motivates the Explorer with authority. For the more experienced drivers, the Platinum model’s 365-hp twin turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 will be preferred. The Explorer ST is a sportier version that uses a 400-hp engine. The 2020 Explorer lineup features a hybrid that combines a 3.3-liter V-6 with an electric motor to produce 318 horsepower. The Explorer can tow 5600 pounds when properly equipped. The Explorer is equipped with a new rear-wheel-drive platform. All-wheel drive is an option, but the Explorer comes standard with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Explorer ST’s ride and handling are pleasant and well-constructed, but it is not very entertaining. It has more power and stiffer suspension making it a true performance SUV.
Fuel Economy and Real World MPG
The 2020 Explorer’s multiple powertrain and drivetrain combinations result in varying EPA fuel economy ratings. The rear-drive hybrid model, which is estimated to get up to 27 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, is considered the most economical overall. The hybrid’s efficiency ratings are reduced by adding all-wheel drive, which reduces them by 3 and 4. The latter was only 24 mpg on the 200-mile route we tested. The Explorer ST, a 400-hp engine, scored 25 mpg in highway tests, beating its EPA rating of 1. We also tested the Explorer four-cylinder with all-wheel drive. According to the government, this version will get 20 mpg in cities and 27 on highways. We saw 28 mpg while driving along highways.
Interior, Comfort, & Cargo
Although the Explorer’s interior design is uninspired, it is functional and comfortable. At least for the two rows in the front. A new mechanism makes it easier to get into the third row. It moves the second-row seat at the touch of one button. However, older children and adults will find the seat too close to the ground to be comfortable in the third row. The third row is more comfortable than rivals like the Chevy Traverse or the Volkswagen Atlas. Four carry-on suitcases were able to be stuffed behind Ford’s third row. We also managed to fit 31 bags in total, with the back rows folded flat.
Infotainment & Connectivity
Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability. Although the system is attractive and responsive, it does not have a rotary controller. This could make it easier to use. Upgrade to the Platinum or ST models to get the optional 10.1-inch vertically orientation screen. All models are available with voice-activated navigation and a rear-seat entertainment program. A 12-speaker B&O stereo system is standard on the Explorer base model.