You can’t really have a conversation about the popularity of SUVs in today’s market without talking about where it all began. The Ford Explorer is significant because when it debuted in 1991, there weren’t really enough four-door sport utility vehicles to have a segment. The new Explorers at that time were convenient and geared toward families. The auto industry paid attention.
With the release of the redesigned 2020 models, critical reviews point out Explorer’s hefty price tag. Is the cost really hurting Explorer sales?
2020’s best-selling midsize SUV so far
The first-quarter 2020 sales figures in the U.S. for midsize SUVs are out, and the new Ford Explorer is outselling its competition . . . by a lot.
In the first quarter of 2020, the Ford Explorer sold 56,309 units, selling rings around its peers in a 28-vehicle segment. The only close competition it really has is the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee which sold 50,083 units in the same period of time.
If the new Ford Explorers are more expensive than the competition, how are they outselling more reasonably priced SUVs?
First, the Ford Explorer has been around for nearly three decades. It’s a name people are familiar with. Even with the bumps in the road that Ford encountered in the 1980s and 1990s, the Explorer is fondly remembered as a solid, reliable family vehicle.
The new 2020 Explorer, part of the sixth generation of the vehicle, was also substantially redesigned. It may not be obvious from its exterior, but when you take a closer look, you’ll see the Explorer is greatly improved.
A redesign in 2020
The popular three-row SUV received a major makeover in 2020. Earlier versions of the Ford Explorer were mostly rear-wheel drive and built using truck frames. Later models, like 2019, were front-wheel drive and utilized a unibody setup like that of a car.
In 2020, the Ford Explorer goes back to the rear-wheel-drive format while keeping the unibody construction. Its outward appearance is still unmistakably that of a Ford Explorer. Beneath that familiar guise is an improved SUV. It offers a nice selection of powerful engines, lots of space for passengers and cargo, and an impressive list of safety and standard features.
The SUV’s balance and handling benefited greatly from the return to rear-wheel drive. The powertrain selection benefits too as does towing, which gains greater stability. This Explorer model received Ford’s competent 10-speed automatic transmission which improves its performance. The newly added hybrid models are pretty good too, featuring more than just better fuel efficiency.
There’s more cabin space in the new Explorers too along with room for everyone’s stuff, which is a necessity in a family vehicle. Not only is the 2020 Ford Explorer an improvement over the previous model, but it’s also a better vehicle than those in the crossover segment.
Why consumers love Ford Explorer
While both Consumer Reports and Edmunds point out the new Ford Explorers cost a bit more than other midsize SUVs, they are still the top sellers in their class. So what do consumers love so much about them that they are willing to pay extra?
According to reviews submitted to Cars.com, the new Ford Explorer has an 83 percent approval rating from owners with a four-out-of-five-star review rating.
One Texas reviewer explained that they’ve been driving Ford vehicles for years. They felt the new Explorer was Ford stepping up their game. They felt the redesign fixed many problems that plagued recent models. They appreciated the quiet smooth ride, the impressive range of safety and technology features, and the interior room and comfort.
An Arizona reviewer explained that the seat felt “like a glove.” They were impressed with all the extras of the top-shelf Platinum trim, including its cooled and heated front seats and heated steering wheel. They appreciated the Explorer’s easy acceleration and abundance of space.
Another Texas buyer maintains that for them, the new Explorer beats all other three-row midsize SUVs. They love the amount of cargo space and the great flexibility offered when it comes to storage behind the rear seats. They were impressed with the features offered by the Platinum trim including the self-parking feature.
The new 2020 Ford Explorer is an improved SUV with a lot to offer. There’s plenty of room for passengers and cargo along with a long list of standard features. You get a smooth ride, a nice selection of engines to choose from, and enhanced performance thanks to the switch back to a rear-wheel-drive platform. While the new Explorers cost a few thousand dollars more than some of its competitors, it’s still selling rings around other SUVs in its class.