5 things to know about the 2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Ford Explorer ST 7.JPG
2020 Ford Explorer ST (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

The Ford Explorer is all new for the 2020 model year, and while the design a is relatively conservative, it does have some cool and flashy features.

Here are five things you need to know about this sixth-generation SUV.

XLT has standard second-row captains chairs

The base trim of the Explorer is the only model that will come standard with a bench seat in the middle row, which means it’s the only trim that will seat 7 as a standard feature.

Ford execs said that most of its customers prefer second-row captains chairs, so they just went ahead and made them standard on the volume seller, which is the XLT. Since the third row only seats two, that means most models are intended to be 6-passenger vehicles.

However, the bench seat is still available in all trims. But note, this is not a zero-cost option.

When we spec’d out the XLT trim on the configurator, the only way you could get the second-row bench seats, which ostensibly cost $495, is by adding the Equipment Group 202A – for a total net price change of $4,635.

An 8-inch touch screen is standard

The first vehicle we drove had the optional 10-inch vertical touchscreen, and we didn’t like it. At all. It sticks up high over the dash and looks like it was tacked on as an afterthought.

Thankfully, the more space appropriate 8-inch touchscreen is standard. So is Sync3, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Waze integration and a WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices.

It has a hybrid

For the first time, Ford has included a hybrid version in the Explorer lineup. It is only available with the Limited trim, but it can be equipped with either a rear- or four-wheel-drive platform.

The powertrain includes a 3.3-liter naturally aspirated engine mated to an electric motor. Together they have a combined output of 318 horsepower and an estimated fuel range of 500 miles.

The beauty of this new hybrid is that it was designed and engineered side-by-side with the gasoline model, which means even though there’s a battery pack and some extra machinery for the transmission, the hybrid doesn’t lose any interior volume or exterior capability.

There’s a cool Easter egg

We love it when designers include hidden design elements. Jeep is famous for them. And now Ford’s getting in on the action with a cleverly placed image on the adaptive cruise control screen.

If you are in the “normal” drive mode and set the ACC, the car on the display that shows a vehicle is in front of you is a Ford Fusion. We discovered if you toggle through the different modes, you might see a couple of different “chase” vehicles. In sport mode, you’ll see a Mustang GT, and in trail or tow mode you’ll see an F-150 Raptor.

Our question: Will they replace the Fusion in the display with another Ford vehicle when the Fusion leaves the lineup after 2020?

Co-Pilot360 is standard

The Co-Pilot360 is Ford’s safety suite, and it includes features such as automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, a rear camera with a lens cleaner, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert – all great features.

What we really love, though, is that Co-Pilot360 will be on every model including the base. A lot of lux-level manufacturers will charge a premium for these features, and they’ll only be packaged on top-tier trims.

Additionally, there are some nice available up-level safety features including adaptive cruise control, automatic reverse braking and Park Assist 2.0.

The Bottom Line:

The 2020 Ford Explorer is comfortable, has a nice ride and is reasonably competent in mild off-road situations. Additionally, it has some cool high-tech features and up-level creature comforts (like massaging front seats!) that give this vehicle an edge over other new entries in this segment such as the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride.

For more information on the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer, be sure to read our full first-look review.