2020 Ford Explorer first drive: Crossover for the new decade

The biggest change underneath the skin is the platform, which is now a rear-wheel-drive one shared with the current Mustang, but offers all-wheel drive as an option. The 2020 Explorer is also larger than the outgoing model — no big surprise there as crossovers and sport utilities keep growing — measuring 198.8 inches in overall length and featuring a 119.1-inch long wheelbase for a smoother ride. Stretching the wheelbase has bought some extra legroom for passengers — the Explorer is a three-row crossover and needs as much room for people as possible — while keeping adequate cargo room. Depending on trim levels, the second row is either a three-person bench seat or features two captain’s chairs, which also means that higher trim levels will accommodate a total of six people, while the lower trim level with a three-person bench will carry a total of seven humans.
The second biggest set of changes is the engines. The base model, the Limited and the XLT trims get the 2.3-liter Ecoboost inline-four, good for 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The ST and the Platinum, representing the upper trim level sport and luxury flavors, get to play with the 3.0-liter Ecoboost V6 in two states of tune, with the ST model churning out 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque and the Platinum version generating a respectable 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. And all of these engines are paired with 10-speed automatic transmissions. The 2020 Explorer also hasn’t forgotten about off-road driving in the process of becoming more on-road friendly, offering selectable drive modes including trail, normal, sport, slippery, tow/haul and eco. The Hybrid model, meanwhile, gets its own 3.3-liter V6 good for a combined 318 hp, but we’ll talk in detail about that model a little later this month because it deserves (and shall receive) its own review.