The all-new Ford Explorer was completely redesigned for 2020 and the upgrades made are quite impressive! The 2020 Explorer now features lighter, leaner, and stronger construction and it rides on Ford’s new rear-wheel-drive architecture.
There’s a new hybrid option and an all-new performance-based variant that excites! The additions help make for the broadest-ever lineup of Explorer SUVs. The range-topping Platinum trim, meanwhile, is loaded with even more technology and features a 10.1” portrait touchscreen, a 12.3” digital instrument display, and Ford’s largest ever dual-panel sunroof.
Even with the base XLT model, the all-new Explorer comes with more than a dozen new standard features over the outgoing Explorer. Those new standard features include a power liftgate, a reinvigorated 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine with all-new 10-speed transmission, an 8-inch touchscreen with SYNC 3, and a WiFi service capable of connecting up to 10 devices.
SUVs.com had the chance to test drive a 2020 Ford Explorer ST, which features a specially tuned 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 400 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft. of torque. The peppy acceleration is impressive, especially for a three-row SUV!
Continue reading below for more about the all-new ST trim from Ford Performance, as well as the 2020 Ford Explorer as a whole.
The 2020 Ford Explorer’s new rear-wheel-drive architecture benefits the three-row SUV in a number of ways. It enables a sportier, more athletic design. It also helps improve on- and off-road capability, with 600 pounds more in maximum towing capacity when properly equipped.
Longtime Explorer design traits like the blacked-out A-pillars, D-pillars, and the body-color C-pillars remain. Changes to the overall profile include a more sloping roofline and shorter front overhang, adding to the sportier, more stylish appearance of the all-new Explorer.
18-inch painted aluminum wheels come standard, but there are a number of available wheel designs. The all-new ST trim from Ford Performance is available with special 21” aluminum wheels with performance brakes, for example. They feature red-painted brake calipers, giving the performance SUV an even sportier look.
The ST trim also stands out thanks to its black mesh grille insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside details, and roof-rack side rails and skid plate elements. “EXPLORER” badging stretches across the front edge of the hood, as we’ve seen with some other popular three-row SUVs like the Kia Telluride. The range-topping Platinum trim’s differentiators, meanwhile, include door handles with satin aluminum inserts and a unique grille with satin aluminum finish.
While sporty on the outside, the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer is still plenty comfortable on the inside! The performance ST trim that SUVs.com test drove features captain’s chairs as standard in the middle. Those chairs are heated, as are the front seats and sport steering wheel with paddle shifters. The ST trim also features stunning leather seating surfaces with micro-perforation and fun accent stitching. The bucket front seats additionally feature the ST logo, adding to their sporty feel.
SUVs.com was a fan of the second-row console, which you can easily step over to get to the third row. It’s a great place for people to store their phone, water bottle, or other items, but it doesn’t inhibit someone from accessing the third row. You can opt for a bench seat instead of the captain’s chairs and pass-over console, though. It doesn’t add much to the cost of your Explorer and will allow you to fit up to seven.
Speaking of accessing the third row, it’s easy to do so with just the push of a button! And as for cargo space behind all the seats, there’s plenty of it! Thanks to those new E-Z entry second-row seats, a flat-floor cargo area can be created and offers 87.8 cubic feet of space! Ford says that’s enough space to fit standard 4-foot building materials.
As for the technology featured, the lower trims of the all-new Ford Explorer now come with an 8.0” touchscreen with SYNC 3. You can upgrade to an even larger 10.1” portrait touchscreen, though! It comes standard on the range-topping Platinum trim. SUVs.com had the chance to check it out as the ST variant we test drove featured the larger screen. We found it easy to use. It also goes well with the ST’s standard ambient lighting system!
Other highlights of the ST’s interior include a standard voice-activated navigation system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a 12.3” digital instrument display. That large digital instrument display also comes standard on the Platinum model.
Standard features for all Explorer trims include a power liftgate, easy-to-access USB ports and other outlets for charging, and the FordPass Connect Wi-Fi service. FordPass Connect is capable of connecting up to 10 devices with a compatible wireless subscription service!
All Explorer trims also have the option of adding a dual-headrest rear seat entertainment system to help keep passengers entertained. As for audio, a Bang & Olufsen sound system comes standard with 12 speakers on Limited, ST, and Platinum models. You can opt for an even better 980-watt, 14-speaker premium audio system, though, on ST and Platinum models.
We can’t forget to mention Ford’s largest ever twin-panel sunroof. It’s available with your 2020 Explorer and comes standard on the Platinum trim. It allows light to beautifully enter the cabin, making your three-row Explorer feel even more spacious.
The powerful new powertrain lineup for the Explorer includes a pair of EcoBoost engines and a new hybrid option. There’s a reinvigorated 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 that comes standard on base, XLT, and Limited models. Then, there’s a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that powers the Explorer Platinum trim. A specially tuned version of that engine is also used in the all-new Explorer ST.
SUVs.com test drove that Explorer ST from Ford Performance and we were definitely impressed by it! The specially tuned 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine churns out 400 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft. of torque. It certainly offers quick acceleration and it can reach a top speed of 143 mph. It’s paired to a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and features standard four-wheel drive with selectable traction control.
Up to seven selectable drive modes are available to tailor the driving experience to the road or weather conditions. Rear-wheel-only Explorer drive modes include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul, and eco. Models equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive (like the ST) add deep snow and sand modes.
Even though the Explorer ST is already sporty enough, selecting the sport mode results in an even more exhilarating ride! When engaged, the steering system tightens for sportier reaction, the gas pedal responds more aggressively, and the gears hold longer and shift quicker. Plus, an enhanced engine note plays through the cabin! It feels and drives like a true performance SUV.
Every ST comes standard with a Class III Trailer Tow Package with Cargo Management System and Active Park Assist 2.0. You can tow up to 5,600 pounds with the system.
Available upgrades for the ST include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack. Both of those feature 21-inch aluminum wheels as we mentioned earlier. Those wheels come with differing levels of performance brakes and feature larger vented rotors, red-painted brake calipers with stainless steel pistons, and larger brake pads for even more stopping power!
As for the hybrid powertrain option, it’s only available with the Limited trim. It features a 3.3-liter hybrid powertrain that, in rear-wheel-drive models, provides an EPA-estimated range of more than 500 miles between fill-ups!
As for safety, every 2020 Explorer comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of impressive driver-assist technologies. It includes a blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera with built-in lens cleaner, a lane-keeping system, automatic emergency braking, and auto headlamps with auto high-beams. Active Park Assist 2.0 comes standard on the ST trim that SUVs.com test drove and makes it easy to parallel park your SUV. There are also a number of other safety systems available!
Some of you might balk at the $54,740 starting price of the Ford Explorer ST that SUVs.com test drove, but it definitely delivers performance-wise and it has an excellent interior to match!
Some competitors for the all-new three-row Ford Explorer include the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Chevrolet Traverse, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, and many others.
As always, be sure to test drive any vehicle you might be interested in purchasing!
The 2020 Ford Explorer ST received an SUVs.com deal score of 77/100. It offers great exterior and interior styling, impressive performance, and comes with a slew of standard safety features. Fuel economy is the only thing that’s not great with the ST, but you can opt for the new hybrid Explorer if you’re interested in those fuel savings!