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The Ford Explorer has had a lot of issues in the past, and those problems have really soured its reputation as a midsize SUV. However, Ford hasn’t given up on the Explorer, and for the 2020 model year, Ford has redesigned it. Here’s a look at the 2020 Ford Explorer’s new and improved features.

Changes under the hood of the Ford Explorer

As Kelley Blue Book wrote, for the 2020 model year, Ford redesigned the Explorer at its core level. The Explorer, up until now, had “car-based roots” in terms of how it was designed and built.

For the 2020 Explorer, however, Ford decided to design and build the Explorer more similarly to how SUVs are designed and built. For example, rather than having a front-wheel drive, the Explorer is now rear-wheel drive as standard.

These engineering changes, when all’s said and done, end up giving the Explorer improvements in terms of things such as towing capacity and performance. On top of that, Ford’s also offering more engine options on the Explorer, including a hybrid option as well as a more powerful ST trim that’ll get a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 which makes 400-hp and 415 lb-ft of torque.

Depending on which engine customers choose, the Explorer can end up towing about 5,600-pounds. This is significantly more cargo than what the Explorer’s competitors can tow. For example, Kelley Blue Book said that the Chevy Traverse can only tow about 5,000-pounds. 

The many new engines

While that powerful 400-hp engine is one of the bigger changes to the Ford Explorer, it wasn’t the only significant engine change. Kelley Blue Book also wrote that the Explorer’s standard engine has been upgraded, too. The last generation of the Explorer came standard with a 3.5-liter V6 which made about 290-hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. 

Now, the 2020 Explorer will come standard with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gets 300-hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This extra power is what ultimately allows the new Explorer to tow more cargo, even in its standard trim. 

Ford didn’t stop there, as Ford understands how many SUV shoppers are looking for good fuel economies, too. With the standard engine, the Explorer gets 21 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on highways, which is respectable for an SUV its size. However, Ford also now offers a hybrid Explorer, and that’s even more fuel-efficient. 

Kelley Blue Book said that the hybrid Explorer’s engine gets about 318-hp and that it gets 27 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on highways. It can also go about 500-miles on a single charge and tank of gas. 

The 2020 Ford Explorer isn’t flawless, though

Ford Explorers being assembled in a plant
A Ford Explorers gets a final inspection as they roll off the assembly line | Scott Olson/Getty Images

While these new engine and performance upgrades are great, the Explorer does have a few flaws. For example, Kelley Blue Book wrote that, despite being an SUV with third-row seats, the 2020 Explorer can only seat seven people. On top of that, the people in the third-row may be uncomfortable since the Explorer’s third-row seats aren’t very spacious. 

Plus, while the 2020 Explorer has a respectable 87.8 cu. ft. of cargo space when both its second and third-row seats are folded, this is less than what some of its competitors have. For example, the Traverse has a maximum of 98.2 cu. ft. of cargo space, which is significantly more than what the Explorer has. 

Furthermore, while the Explorer starts at a decently affordable $33,000, its trims can be very expensive. For example, the hybrid Explorer starts at about $50,000, while the powerful ST trim starts at about $56,000.


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