Trucks & SUVs

The 2020 Ford Explorer ST Might Not Be Practical but Critics Love It

Many of the vehicles on the road today are designed to appeal to a wide audience. Something like the Kia Telluride, a midsize SUV, impressed critics so much that it even won the World Car of the Year award. In a time when distinguishing your vehicle from its competitors is tougher than ever, some manufacturers are focusing on making the appeal as broad as possible. Ford is doing no such thing with the 2020 Explorer ST.

The audacity of the 2020 Ford Explorer ST

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The Ford Explorer ST comes in at an MSRP of $60,000, which is absolutely a non-starter for many families. It’s simply too much to pay for a vehicle that does the same things other SUVs do at half the price.

It has plenty of amenities: built-in navigation, Wi-Fi, automatic parking, heated seats, etc. But the appeal of the vehicle itself is very narrow. It’s not going to be the next World Car of the Year, and it probably won’t end up in the same universe as the Telluride on total sales.

But Ford doesn’t particularly care. When CNET reviewed the vehicle, they awarded it an 8.5 overall, as well as an 8.5 specifically on performance. The sticker shock wasn’t too much for some reviewers.

It’s a refreshing dose of honesty from a car manufacturer. Ford isn’t trying to sell this as a family car for everyone. The price is too high and the performance simply isn’t necessary for the vast majority of buyers. But there are people who the Explorer ST fits perfectly.

Who Ford is targeting?

A Ford Explorer ST on display
A 2020 Ford Explorer ST on display | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Families who love adventure and have extra money to spend may opt for the Explorer ST, given that the base model of the Ford Explorer is often criticized as cramped. All the bells and whistles of the base Explorer are included in the ST version, so if going up to the higher trim makes sense in price it’ll be a great buy for some consumers.

It’s worth taking a minute to lay out the specs and see exactly what Explorer ST buyers are getting for their hefty investment (all data courtesy of Ford.com).

The ST boasts 400 horsepower at 5000 RPM and 415 lb.-ft. of torque at 3500 RPM. The engine itself is Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) and the quad chrome exhaust tips keep it running smooth and looking great. It tows over 5000 lbs and seats seven.

Why Ford is making a big move

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Again, the 2020 Ford Explorer ST isn’t for everyone. Ford took a gamble that it would succeed so well at their target market that they wouldn’t need broad appeal like the Telluride. And according to the critics, they were right.

2020 is an interesting year in the car market. Even putting aside current events, manufacturers are trying to make their vehicles more generally appealing than ever. But at the same time, Ford is leading the charge of specialization.

They knew exactly who they were marketing the Ford Explorer ST toward, and reviews seem to indicate that they’ve put together a strong enough offering to succeed.

Ford made headlines recently for its $11 billion restructuring plan. It’s basing a lot of their future on the success of the Bronco and it’s kind of a surprise that it would focus so narrowly when creating the expensive Ford Explorer ST.

But Ford is also a company with a long history of success. As much of a gamble as the Explorer ST is, there’s probably a good reason behind it. And even if it’s the biggest flop since the Edsel, Ford has the reserves to get through it. But the reviews of the Explorer ST so far make it seem like they’ve set the bar high.