Iconic Ford Explorer SUV Gets First Ever Redesign

Published January 10, 2019 by Elizabeth Jeneault

Ford has introduced its all-new Explorer, redesigned from the ground up! The 2020 Ford Explorer features lighter, leaner, and stronger construction. The new rear-wheel-drive architecture also makes this redesigned Explorer roomier. The three-row SUV’s sportier look complements the more powerful and efficient engines being offered. There’s also smart new technology and special creature comforts to help passengers feel more comfortable!


It’s the first major redesign for the Explorer, which has seen much popularity over the past 29 years and has also made quite a number of headlines. Ford revealed the redesigned SUV in Detroit. It will make its way to dealers this summer!


“Explorer drivers told us what they want – more capability, more power, 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.”



The new rear-wheel-drive architecture has made way for bumper-to-bumper improvements that include an even more athletic appearance, increased capability, and the best passenger accommodations in an Explorer ever. But, the design team also strived to hold on to the qualities that have helped define the Explorer over the past 29 years. That means longtime traits, such as the Explorer’s blacked-out A-pillars and D-pillars and body-color C-pillars, remain. Changes to the overall profile include a more sloped roofline and shorter front overhang, giving it that sportier appearance.


“We obsessed about what Explorer customers need and want,” said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer. “We met with customer groups, pored through internet forums, and dissected social media posts to determine what they love about today’s Explorer and understand their pain points. Then we found ways to improve it across the board. Every enhancement on this all-new Explorer was inspired by our customers.”


As for the SUV’s feet, the 2020 Explorer comes standard with 18-inch painted aluminum wheels. But, drivers can opt for one of seven wheel designs across the lineup. 21-inch premium aluminum wheels are available on Platinum models. Other Platinum perks include a unique grille and satin aluminum finish. It also features a standard twin-panel moonroof, which allows light to flood the vehicle.



There’s an available 10.1-inch touchscreen that’s mounted in portrait configuration on the center stack. Navigation maps can fill the entire screen for easy and safe viewing, or you can also split the screen space with audio information. The touchscreen shares information with the available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which displays important vehicle information for the driver.


A wireless charging pad is available to help keep passengers’ devices charged and ready to go. Customers can also choose to add up to four USB ports and three 12-volt outlets. A 110-volt outlet is also available. Passengers in all three rows, meanwhile, get to enjoy FordPass Connect, a standard feature that provides 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices with a compatible wireless subscription service!


There’s also some driver-assist technology to highlight! The all-new Explorer introduces available Active Park Assist 2.0. The feature, which comes standard on Platinum trims, allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with a touch of a button. Talk about easy! Available reverse brake assist, also standard on Platinum models, uses radar and ultrasonic sensors to detect an object in the SUV’s path when backing up. If it does detect something, brakes are automatically applied to avoid an imminent collision.


The 2020 Explorer comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of other driver-assist technologies that includes pedestrian detection and a rearview camera with built-in lens cleaner. You can also tack on even more available driver-assist features to your Ford Co-Pilot 360 suite. For example, Evasive Steering Assist and Post-Impact Braking.


“It’s not about filling the vehicle with technology for technology’s sake,” said Chris Billman, Ford Co-Pilot360 engineering manager. “It’s about improving the experience, making driving less stressful, and helping the driver to feel more confident behind the wheel.”



Let’s talk about what’s under the hood of this redesigned Explorer! The powerful new engine lineup features a pair of EcoBoost options. There’s a 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 that comes standard on base, XLT, and Limited models. The Explorer Platinum, meanwhile, is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. The reinvigorated 2.3-liter engine is expected to produce 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque.


Up to seven selectable drive modes are available to help customers get the most out of their Explorer, no matter the driving conditions! Rear-wheel-only Explorer drive modes include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul, and eco. Vehicles equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive add a deep snow and sand mode for improved performance off-road.


People are talking a lot about the improved towing capability with this Explorer. New models equipped with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost and Class III Trailer Tow Package can tow up to 5,300 pounds. That’s 3,000 pounds more than what today’s similarly equipped Explorer is capable of! As for the 3.0-liter EcoBoost, it can tow up to 5,600 pounds. That’s a 12 percent increase over outgoing models with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost.


“A vehicle like Explorer can’t just be good-looking,” said Craig Patterson, Ford SUV marketing manager. “Explorer customers need it to do certain things. They need to be able to drive certain places and haul specific items. This Explorer performs no matter what adventures you have in store.”


Our Take

We’re excited to see this first ever Explorer redesign! The new architecture seems to be helping on several fronts, and we love all the new technology packed inside. Plus, with new engine offerings and a number of different drive modes, this redesigned Explorer is more powerful and capable! Ford also seemed to work quite hard to incorporate customer feedback into this redesign. We love to hear that! It will arrive in showrooms this summer.

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