The 2020 Ford Explorer was one of the most exciting redesigns to come along for the current model year, given the SUV’s pedigree, popularity and the long list of changes it had received. A new rear-wheel-drive platform, new technology and a diverse selection of powertrains seemed to prophesize great things for the sixth generation.
Instead, what we got was more of a mixed bag. The 2020 Explorer has some good ideas and clear dynamic strengths, but it’s lacking in a few other areas. It’s the most fun-to-drive vehicle in its class by a decent margin, but that isn’t where the bread is buttered for a family vehicle. Most shoppers would trade the Explorer’s great gas engines and rear-wheel-drive feel for a better-packaged cabin and USB ports in the third row. On top of that, uncomfortable seating in the first two rows, a tight third row that isn’t comfortable for adults and a lower grade in our Car Seat Check than the competition may give shoppers pause. Also giving us pause: the Explorer’s price tag, which puts it at the top range of the class, as well.
The 2020 Explorer also offers two more specialized variants: the performance-focused ST and the efficiency-focused Explorer Hybrid, giving the Explorer the widest range of options in this class. The ST is the more successful of the two, with a powerful turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 offering plentiful acceleration and a really excellent (but optional) set of brakes and summer tires. The hybrid model’s electricity-infused powertrain offers better EPA-estimated fuel economy (27/29/28 mpg city/highway/combined for RWD models), but in a 1,180-mile road trip, we didn’t reach those numbers.
We also put the 2020 Explorer up against six of its main competitors in a segment-spanning multicar comparison pitting top rivals against one another over a week of intensive head-to-head testing at the end of 2019 — and it ended up finishing dead in the middle at fourth place, which felt about right.
An SUV with clear strengths and weaknesses, the Explorer will be loved by some and loathed by others. To help you determine which camp you fall into, here’s everything you need to know about the 2020 Ford Explorer:
News & Reviews
2020 3-Row Challenge Results
Research and Shopping
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