The Ford Explorer has long been a kind of benchmark for SUV design in North America, so when the automaker plans an all-new model, it handles the process very carefully indeed. For 2020, a new Explorer is coming our way and as expected, it includes a host of new features while retaining the character that has made it such a huge seller for Ford over the years.
The new Explorer, which will arrive later this year, carries on many styling cues we’ve seen on earlier models despite having no sheet in common with its predecessor. Ford believes that customers want their new Explorer to fit in with the traditions established by earlier generations. The same design policy applies to the venerable Mustang, which still has styling elements dating back to the 1960s and that’s what buyers want.
Construction is lighter and stronger and the cabin offers more space and technology, including availability of a 10.1-inch touch screen for infotainment duties. Beefing up the engine range has meant another boost in towing capability – up to 5,600lbs now with the appropriate engine option. According to Ford, the design team paid special attention to towing boats and trailers because that’s what owner’s are demanding.
Among EcoBoost engines offered are a 2.3-litre 300-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder unit and a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V-6, the latter developing 365-horsepower. A new 10-speed transmission is available too. A hybrid version will be available later. Obviously, four-wheel drive is available on this basically rear-wheel drive platform and the driver has the choice of seven drive modes for different terrains. Buyers can opt for three rows of seats with an easy-entry system for the rearmost. There’s 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space available and the rear deck is wide enough to accommodate a four-by-eight sheet of plywood or similar material.
As with other Ford models, both cars and SUVs, there’s a tempting range of trim and equipment upgrades on offer with the Platinum variant sitting at the top of the lineup. Luxurious though the Platinum may be, even the entry level Explorer has a very long list of standard equipment and will likely fill the needs of most buyers. Trim variants include basic XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid and ST.
The Explorer has been a popular choice for use by police forces and other emergency services bodies and this gives a good indication of performance and durability. In applications like those, a vehicle has to meet demands way beyond what the average user would need.
There’s no reason to doubt that this new Explorer will carry on where the old one left off and become a major seller in the SUV/crossover segment. The 2020 model has so many new features, some of them “firsts,” that it may well send some competitors hurrying back to their drawing boards.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two-row or three-row SUV/crossover
ENGINE: Four or six cylinder EcoBoost variants plus hybrid
TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic. 2WD and 4WD available
TOWING CAPACITY: Up to 5,600lbs with appropriate engine and tow package
FUEL ECONOMY: Not yet rated by Federal NRC
PRICE: To be announced