2020 Ford Explorer revealed: Sleeker, stronger, loaded with tech

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It’s been nearly a decade since the Ford Explorer ditched its truck-like roots to become the crossover America knows today. After its debut on Friday in cop car form, the 2020 Ford Explorer arrived Wednesday in civilian trim.

With better packaging, new technology, and more capability than before, the 2020 Explorer is meant to meet the needs of families when it launches this summer.

Based on the new modular D6 platform that also serves the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, the Explorer shaves 200 pounds thanks to the use of high-strength boron steel. It doesn’t go back to a body-on-frame design, but it does return to a rear-wheel-drive based platform with the engine mounted longitudinally. With a sloping roofline, a swept-back front end, a wide stance, and shorter front and rear overhangs, the new Explorer looks leaner and sportier than previous generations, whether on the standard 18-inch alloy wheels or the available 21s.

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Ford Explorer

Most Explorers will be powered by a 2.3-liter turbo-4 with 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Those who want more power, and bling, can opt for the Platinum model with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that makes 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque (on 93-octane gas). All-wheel drive is available, and all Explorers now feature a 10-speed automatic transmission. A more frugal hybrid and more powerful ST model are waiting in the wings, but details haven’t been announced yet.

A new Terrain Management System gives the 2020 Explorer seven drive modes: Normal, Trail, Deep Sand/Snow, Slippery, Sport, Tow/Haul, and Eco. Each mode monitors wheel speed, steering sensors, and throttle position and adjusts various vehicle systems to best handle the terrain/conditions.

The new platform and powertrains give the 2020 Explorer more capability when it’s time to put the family hauler to work. Models equipped with the twin-turbo V-6 can tow up to 5,600 pounds, while the turbo-4 can tug up to 5,300 pounds when equipped with the tow package.

Inside, the new Explorer appears modern, and that’s not just because Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard. An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system perched on the dashboard like a hard-mounted tablet is standard, but an available 10.1-inch touchscreen mounted in a portrait configuration is the Explorer’s new look-at-me-feature. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is also offered.

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