The 2019 North American International Auto Show unofficially kicked off with a pre-show debut. Say hello to the 2020 Ford Explorer, which was revealed at Ford Field in Downtown Detroit.
Now in it’s sixth generation and nearly thirty years of production deep, the Explorer returns to a rear-drive platform. Two engine choices are on deck. There’s the 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. You can find this engine as standard equipment on the base, XLT, and Limited trims. Jump to the Platinum trim to find a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6. This version produces 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission is standard for both engines.
Put that EcoBoost to good use
The 3.0-liter EcoBoost can tow up to 5,600 pounds. That’s a 12% increase over the outgoing 3.5-liter EcoBoost. Outfitted with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and Class III Trailer Tow Package the 2020 Explorer can tow up to 5,300 pounds.
Original Explorers from the early 1990s were about the same size as the Escape of today. The modern Explorer has grown quite a bit. You’ll need help to park this beast. Ford has answered that need with Active Park Assist 2.0. Standard on the Explorer Platinum, this allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with the press of a button. The steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal, and brake pedal all work their magic to make parking ease happen.
Available reverse brake assist, also standard on Platinum, uses radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect an object in the Explorer’s path. It can then 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, just in case you can’t be bothered to turn around to look where you’re going or look at the rearview camera.
The 2020 Ford Explorer comes standard with the automaker’s electronic safety suite called Co-Pilot360. This is a set of driver-assist technologies that include:
- 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 and Post-Impact Braking.
Chris Billman, Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager, says “It’s not about filling the vehicle with technology for technology’s sake. It’s about improving the experience, making driving less stressful, and helping the driver feel more confident behind the wheel.”
Of course we want more
“Explorer drivers told us what they want – more capability, more power, and 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.”
Henry Ford once said if he asked customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse. Customers will always say they want more space, power, etc.
The Explorer will feature a 10.1-inch center display in portrait mode (think iPad style) with Sync 3 featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Waze navigation. The center stack will also have the ability to wirelessly charge your phone. Four USB-C ports are available for wired charging in the cabin. Up to three 12v outlets and one 110v outlet can also be found. Optional will be a 980-watt, 14-speaker B&O premium audio system.
The instrument panel is a 12.3-inch all-digital unit. It uses 3D animated graphics to change information depending on which of the seven drive modes are selected on the available Terrain Management System. Rear-wheel-drive-only Explorer drive modes include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco. Vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive add a deep snow and sand mode for improved performance off road.
Ford made it a point to emphasize that this new Explorer is built on a rear-drive platform. Gone is the softer, crossover Explorer.
Who is it for?
The story that Ford is trying to tell with this new Explorer is to take a vacation. Take that trip with your family or significant other and make memories. Do it in the Explorer. It’s a fine narrative for a vehicle reveal. But Explorer shoppers might just be happy to know they can actually go exploring with their Explorer now. At least more so than they used to.
Base price of the 2020 Ford Explorer will be $400 higher than the outgoing model (2019 Explorer starts at $32,365 minus Destination and Handling). Given all of the fresh safety tech and increase in standard features, that’s actually fairly impressive.
Ford is saying that 2020 Explorer will go on last in early Summer of this year.