DETROIT ó Ford
threw away the rulebook when it developed the new 2020 Explorer SUV,
using engineering thatís more frequently seen on luxury and
high-performance SUVs than family-carrying three-row vehicles.
The new Explorerís
architecture has more in common with sporty SUVs and off-roaders
like the Range Rover Sport and Jeep Grand Cherokee than with its
predecessor and competitors such as the Chevrolet Traverse and
The Explorer seats
six or seven, depending on whether the middle row of seats has a
bench or two captainís chairs. Ford claims easy rear-seat access
with one-touch operation for the middle seats.
Many more features
The base model will
cost $32,765, $400 more than the 2019 model, despite adding standard
features including automatic emergency braking, pedestrian
detection, blind-spot alert, power tailgate, LED head and
taillights, post-crash braking to keep the vehicle from ricocheting
into secondary impacts, and steering that subtly compensates to keep
the vehicle going straight in crosswinds.
The 2020 Explorer
goes on sale this summer, and fuel economy figures will be announced
later in the year.
The Explorer will be
able to tow up to 5,600 pounds, 600 more than a Traverse or
Ford also plans to
offer a fuel-saving hybrid model and a sporty Explorer ST with more
power and other performance upgrades. Details on those models will
be announced Monday at the North American International Auto Show in
The Explorer is based
on a rear-wheel-drive architecture ó family haulers including the
Highlander, Traverse and Pilot have front-wheel-drive base models.
Ford expects most sales to have four-wheel drive.
The Explorer shares
its architecture with the Lincoln Aviator luxury SUV that goes on
sale later this year. Ford builds both vehicles in Chicago.
Quicker, more fuel
The switch to a
rear-drive based chassis is a radical move. Ford expects it to pay
off with better handling, a more even weight distribution, sporty
proportions and more.
Ford knows handling
and acceleration are low priorities for most buyers of three-row
SUVs, but believes an advantage in those areas could be a crucial
edge as the market for SUVs gets more crowded.
have a reputation for better performance but smaller interiors and
worse fuel economy than front-drive based vehicles, but chief
engineer Bill Gubing says the 2020 Explorer has more passenger and
cargo space and better off-road capability.
Ford said the new
model is about 200 pounds lighter and will get better fuel economy
than the 2019 Explorer.
The Explorerís 4wd
system has nine driving modes, with settings for everything from
sporty driving to trailering; deep snow and sand; and off-road
Ford will use those
features and capabilities to pitch the Explorer as a gateway to
Key features on the
2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
3.0L V6 with 365 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque
ST model with
performance and styling tweaks
tablet-style touch pad
braking and power application during parallel and perpendicular
parking. All the driver has to do is press a button while the SUV
Room to lay a
4-by-8-foot sheet of plywood flat in the rear
Acoustic glass and
noise cancellation for a quiet interior
Massaging, heated and
cooled front seats