2020 Ford Explorer

#18
in Suvs
2020 MODEL
$36,675 - $58,250
  1. Home
  2. ford
  3. Explorer

6.9

Overall Rating

FILTER BY YEAR

INDIGO

2020 Ford Explorer Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: December 30, 2019

Karan Rawat's image

Karan Rawat Automotive Journalist


After spending long nine years in the market, the fifth generation Ford Explorer had to say goodbye in 2020. The sixth-generation Ford Explorer gets a complete overhaul with a front-wheel-drive layout and car-like unibody construction. Explorer's performance, fuel economy, towing capacity and driving dynamics have all improved as a result, while the improved interior gains functionality and features.

You will be very fascinated at the power and refinement of this new lot of engines, whether it’s the base turbo four-cylinder, hybrid V6, or the pair of turbo V6 motors that have some serious hustle. Even, the base trim comes with an impressive level of features. Despite these perks, the redesigned Explorer has a tough time wrestling with many of its well-rounded rivals that give more capacious third rows and stylish interiors while also costing less.

See detailed review »

Pros

Increased cabin space and cargo capacity

Rear-wheel-drive platform improves handling

Refined engine and additional driver tech

Cons

Cheap material used in interior

Its can only seat seven people at max

Expensive than rivals

What's New?

The Ford Explorer is fully redesigned for 2020


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$32765

bodystyle

4dr SUV

passenger capacity

7

drivetrain

RWD

engine type

displacement

140 cu.in.

horsepower

300 hp @ 5500 rpm

torque

310 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm

transmission

10 Speed automatic

chassis

frame type

Unibody

suspension front

Independent front strut suspension w/anti-roll bar

suspension rear

Independent rear multi-link suspension w/anti-roll bar

brake rotors (f/r)

66.9/66.9

dimensions

wheelbase

119.1 in.

length

198.8 in.

width

78.9 in.

height

69.9 in.

curb weight

4345 lbs.

ground clearance

7.9 in.

capacity

passenger volume

152.7 cu ft.

cargo volume

87.8 cu ft.

towing capacity

5300 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

7.5 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

21/24/28 mpg

ev range

403.2 mi.

highway range

537.6 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

5 yr./ 60000 mi.

powertrain warranty

5 yr. / 60000 mi.

corrosion warranty

5 yr. / unlimited

roadside assistance

5 yr./ 60000 mi.


Pictures

Exterior
Interior

Styles

 2020 Ford Explorer in Agate Black color  2020 Ford Explorer in Blue Metallic color  2020 Ford Explorer in Atomic Silver color
Agate Black

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

7.0

Engine And Performance

7.0

Fuel Economy

4.0

Interior

7.6

Exterior

7.0

6.9

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2020 Ford Explorer XLT

XLT

power
300 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
23 combined

$36,675 - $38,675


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
XLT 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 10A) Starting at $36,675 MSRP (21/24/28) 300 hp @ 5500 rpm, 2.3L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
10-speed shiftable automatic rear wheel drive 7
XLT 4dr SUV 4WD (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 10A) Starting at $38,675 MSRP (20/23/27) 300 hp @ 5500 rpm, 2.3L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
10-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7

 2020 Ford Explorer Limited

Limited

power
300 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
23 combined

$48,130 - $50,130


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Limited 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 10A) Starting at $48,130 MSRP (21/24/28) 300 hp @ 5500 rpm, 2.3L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
10-speed shiftable automatic rear wheel drive 7
Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.3L 4cyl Turbo 10A) Starting at $50,130 MSRP (20/23/27) 300 hp @ 5500 rpm, 2.3L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
10-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7

 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum

Platinum

power
365 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
20 combined

$58,250


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Platinum 4dr SUV 4WD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 10A) Starting at $58,250 MSRP (18/20/24) 365 hp @ 5500 rpm, 3L, V-6, regular unleaded
10-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 7

Expert Review

6.9

Overall Rating


The Ford Explorer had a starring role in the movie "Jurrasic Park"  and it drove some automotive dinosaurs(station wagons and minivans) to extinction. Saying goodbye to the 5th gen after long nine years, the sixth-generation Ford Explorer gets a complete overhaul with a touch of new features. Now it is presented in modern styling along with enhanced driving capability and power. Most Explorer trims (XLT, Limited, and Platinum) will be powered by a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder EcoBoost engine which is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The Explorer ST is a performance-optimized trim, a replacement for the Explorer sport trim. It uses a 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine rated at 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. Now it is clear that the new 2020 Ford Explorer is more updated than the previous year’s model. The improvements are refined with various configurations in comparison to others in the segment.

 

2020 Ford Explorer Exterior Front View
2020 Ford Explorer Exterior Front View
2020 Ford Explorer Exterior Rear View
2020 Ford Explorer Exterior Rear View

7.0/10
Features

 

7.0/10
Engine and Performance

 

4.0/10
Fuel Economy

 

7.6/10
Interior

 

7.0/10
Exterior

 
 
 
 

2020 Ford Explorer Features

7.0/10

The Explorer comes in four trims and two engine options. four-wheel drive is available on all trims. The starting price is $31,990 for the base explorer that gets you base spec 3.5 L naturally aspirated V6, fabric seats, and old school SYNC infotainment. The top of the line has a hefty $53,940 price tag and has Lincoln rivaling luxury with interior draped in real wood and leather.

Trim

XLT

Limited

Platinum

MSRP(RWD)

$36,675

$48,130

-

MSRP (AWD)

$38,765

$50,130

$58,250

Key Features

Includes Base model’s features and adds -

Includes XLT’s features and adds -

 Includes Limited's features and adds

 

10-way power driver’s seat including power lumbar

2.3L EcoBoost

Front Fog/Driving Lights

 

Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control

SYNC with 8" color LCD capacitive touchscreen in center

Turn Signal Mirrors

 

 Perimeter alarm

911 Assist, AppLink, Apple CarPlay compatibility,

Sony Premium Brand Speakers

 

 

Android Auto compatibility, and 2 smart-charging USB ports

Sony Premium Brand Stereo System with 12 speakers

 

 

2nd-row fold-down center armrest with 2 cupholders

Heated Steering Wheel

 

 

Dual 4.2" configurable color LCD screens in instrument cluster

 

 

 

Mirror – Auto-dimming rearview

 

 

 

Exhaust tips – Quad, bright (3.5L EcoBoost)

 

 

 

20" All-season wheels

 

Which trim to buy?

We think the Ford Explorer in the limited trim, gives the most bang for the buck as it has an efficient and powerful 2.3 L EcoBoost engine. It also gets the much-improved SYNC 3 infotainment system, a very special ambient lighting and host of other feel-good amenities.

2020 Ford Explorer Engine and Performance

7.0/10

The turbocharged inline-four-cylinder which was optional last year is now standard with the 2020 Explorer XLT and Limited trim. Derived from the Mustang and Focus RS, the Ecoboost turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine under the Explorer’s hood packs 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That is 10 extra horsepower and a mountainous 55 lb-ft more torque than last year’s optional four-cylinder. All of the powertrains come mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Ford's longitudinally-mounted rear-biased engine provides more than enough punch to merge into freeways and keep up at highway speed. The smooth-shifting transmission offers a low first-gear ratio that does a decent job mimicking a traditional 4WD when the off-road mode is engaged or trailer is attached. Gear eight, nine and ten are all overdrive ratio's and they only come into play after you get on the highway. Front-wheel drive is standard and 4WD is optional. 

Models

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

MSRP

$32,365

$31,995

$31,450

$31,330

Engine

3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6

2.4-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer 

3.5-liter V6

2.7-liter 4-cylinder

Transmission

6-Speed Automatic

CVT

6-Speed Automatic

6-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

288 @ 6500

260 hp @ 5,600

280hp @ 6000

185 hp @ 5800

Torque

254 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm

277 lb-ft. @ 2,000 rpm

262 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm

184 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm

Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer beat the Subaru Ascent at the horsepower game. Ford’s Ti-VCT engine churns out the segment-best – 288 horsepower which is closely followed by Honda in second place. Toyota Highlander is outclassed by its competition. But when we talk about torque, Subaru takes an obvious lead with its turbocharged boxer engine’s 277 lb.-ft. torque output.

What about the Acceleration then?

The XLT model with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost is pretty good and the power delivery is solid. It's well-calibrated 10-speed transmission routes the power and takes 60 mph from a standstill in 6.1 seconds while the quarter-mile mark is covered in 13.2 seconds.

2020 Ford Explorer SUV Front View
2020 Ford Explorer SUV 0-60 MPH In just  8.2 sec

What do these numbers translate to? Well, the numbers reflect on the fact that the Explorer is no slouch. You have enough pulling power at all times and you won't be left wanting for more.

Models

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

0-60 MPH (seconds)

8.2 

6.9 

6.2 

8.2 

Quarter mile

16.3 

15.5 

14.8 

 15.2 

Emission

(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

 8.2 7.6 8.5 7.5

The closest competitor is the Honda pilot that trails the explorer by 0.3 seconds taking 6.1 seconds to do 0-60 mph dash but in its base trim, it takes a very long 8.2-seconds to achieve a similar feat. Honda Pilot takes the lead with its 6.2-second naught to sixty runs. Honda’s 6.2-second run is followed by Subaru’s 6.9-second. And finally, the Ford Explorer takes the longest 8.2 seconds to achieve a similar speed.

How good is the Ride and Handling?

The Ford Explorer has its priorities set right - comfort over everything else. The suspension has been tuned to offer a supple ride quality. Even on longer journeys, your family would be cocooned in comfort. Explorer can soak up the undulations from bad road surfaces without any drama. High-speed ride quality is composed and there is no nervous body movement at such speeds. Engaging handling and fun to drive characteristics are low on the Ford Explorer`s priority list. Effortless, safe and family-friendly characteristics are high on the list – a good thing for a family crossover. Owing to its large exterior dimensions, the Ford Explorer can be cumbersome to maneuver in the tight spots while driving in town.

2020 Ford Explorer SUV Side View
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Side view

Engaging handling and fun to drive characteristics are down on the explorer`s list of priorities. Effortless, safe and family-friendly characteristics are high on the list, a good thing for a family crossover. The SUV can handle the sudden change in direction with aplomb so you can rely on it to save you from hairy situations. However, it’s lacking in one area where it really shouldn’t. Most people are expected to drive it in town and this Ford SUV is cumbersome in tight situations being heaviest and lengthiest among the rivals.

What about the Braking performance?

The Ford Explorer comes with decent sets of brakes which is backed by impressive stopping power. The pedal has a nice linear action around town, and it's easy to stop smoothly.

2020 Ford Explorer SUV Brakes
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Front Brake is 12.8 in.

The Ford Explorer will take around 108 feet to stop from 60 mph with the optional summer tires which remarkable for such a heavy SUV.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Brake Front (in.)

12.8

13.1

12.6

12.9

Brake Rear (in.)

12.8

13

13

12.2

Curb Weight (lbs.)

4458

4430

4036

4134

60-0 MPH (ft.)

108 (With optional tires)

119

117 (est.)

126 (est.)

The Ford Explorer manages to score an impressive stopping distance. Honda Pilot’s estimated braking distance is 117 ft. However the Toyota Highlander with its estimated stopping distance of 126 ft.

How much can you Tow?

The Ford Explorer tow capacity is 5000 pounds when properly equipped. By properly equipped, we mean you must have the base 3.5 L naturally aspirated V6 or the 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 and you must get the optional Trailer Tow Class 3 package.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

 Toyota Highlander

Capacity (lbs.)

5000

5000

3500

1500

Drivetrain

FWD

AWD

FWD

FWD

Engine

3.5 L V6

2.4 L H4

3.5 L V6

2.7 L I4

All SUVs other than the Highlander can tow 5,000lbs. However, Ford will feel the most stress-free of the lot, owing to its naturally-aspirated motor.

2020 Ford Explorer Fuel Economy

4.0/10

Last year most of the customers complained that the Explorer's fuel tank is not big enough and it needs to be refueled frequently. So, for 2020 Every Explorer can travel in excess of 400 miles and the Hybrid variant can travel up to 500 miles on a single tank. A rear-wheel-drive 2020 Ford Explorer equipped with the 2.3-liter engine is rated by the EPA at 24 mpg city/highway combined. That same Explorer with all-wheel-drive is rated at 23 mpg combined. Whatsoever is the trim level, the Explorer can not be considered as frugal.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

 Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

MPG (city)

17

21 

19 

20

MPG (highway)

24

27 

27 

24

MPG (combined)

20

23

22

22

Looking at the competition, Explorer has an average score. The newly introduced Subaru Ascent delivers a segment-best of 23 mpg which is followed by Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.

2020 Ford Explorer Interior

7.6/10

Ford Explorer comes with seven people capacity which is on the lower side for this segment. Other three-row SUVs come equipped with eight-person seating. The base and the XLT trim come with cloth upholstery. If you want something more premium than the Limited trim comes with leatherette upholstery. One thing that would be appreciated is Explorer’s capacity to filter out road noise. The cabin is a quiet place to be and is well equipped to take on longer journeys. As per Ford, the interior is designed in such a way that the passenger will feel complete comfort and luxury.

Model

Ford Explorer

 Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Passenger capacity

7

8

8

8

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

41.4/61.5/42.9

41.3/61.1/42.2

40.1/ 62/40.9

40.7/59.3/44.2

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

40.6/61/39.5

40/ 60.3/ 38.6

40.2/62/38.4

39.9/59.6/38.4

Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

37.8/50.8/32

36.3/57.2/31.7

38.9/57.6/31.9

35.9/55.0/27.7

The cabin features three rows of seating enabled with sliding second-row seats. Ford says that the dimensions are well configured for the first and second-row hip room, without compromising the third-row space. The Explorer gets a twin-panel moonroof that ensures a good amount of light inside the cabin. The Platinum trim features premium upholstery and patterns.

2020 Ford Explorer SUV
2020 Ford Explorer Front Seats

What features will keep you hooked on the inside?

Ford Explorer comes with a decent list of interior features. Some of these features are listed below:

  • Tilting and telescopic steering column
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Memory driver’s seat
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Cooled Front seats
  • Rear-Seat Entertainment

What's there to entertain you?

The base and XLT trims are equipped with Ford’s SYNC system which comes with a standard 6-speaker audio system. Ford’s SYNC3 system which is a standard feature on the Limited and above trim is available as an option on the XLT trim. SYNC 3 is a user-friendly system. This interface is intuitive and offers a decent response time. It comes  loaded with the following tech

  • AM/FM Stereo HD Radio
  • Speed-Sensitive Volume Control
  • Auxiliary Audio Input and USB With External Media Control
  • Satellite Radio Service
  • USB Connection
  • 6 Total Sony Premium Brand Speakers including a Subwoofer
  • Smart Device Integration
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • Navigation System
  • Onboard Hands-Free Communication System

How much Cargo can you carry?

The cargo capacity behind the third row is the best in class. But with folded seats, the cargo volume isn’t at par with the competition. With the rear seats folded the Explorer frees up 43.9 cu-ft. of space. With both the rows folded the cargo area increases to 81.7 cu-ft. The higher trims come with hands-free liftgate which can be a boon when you are carrying luggage in both your hands. 

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Cargo Volume (cu-ft.)

21

17.8

16.5

13.8

The Explorer can seat seven people with rear bench seats. However, third-row access is compromised with bench seats. Getting Captain's chair makes the second row far more comfortable while also allowing easy third-row access. 

2020 Ford Explorer SUV  Dashboard
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Dashboard
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Infotainment System
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Infotainment System
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Seat detailing
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Seat detailing
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Gearbox control
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Gearbox control
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Center Console
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Center Console

2020 Ford Explorer Exterior

7.0/10

Though the Ford Explorer looks very similar to the 2019 iteration, there has been a lot of changes. First of all, the ladder frame is now replaced with a unibody structure which is rear-wheel-drive biased. Explorer went from being a body-on-frame, truck-based SUV for its first four generations to be a crossover for its fifth. The front and rear overhangs are now shorter and there is a steep increase in departure angles.  Slimmer headlights are enclosed between a more geometrical grille, and both the upward sweep of the character lines and tapered roof give the new Explorer an athletic stance.

2020 Ford Explorer SUV Three Quarter View
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Three Quarter View

The front grille on the Sport trim looks very similar to the police interceptor vehicle, so you scare someone off by getting in their rearview mirror. Ford's change to a base rear-drive format, let designers push the wheels out, increasing interior space and improving approach and departure angles. The exhaust is hidden below well and the reflectors are covered in chrome.

Model

Ford Explorer

Subaru Ascent

Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander

Curb weight (lbs.)

4458

4430

4036

4134

Length(in)

198.3

196.8

196.5

192.5

Width(in)

78.9

76

78.6

75.8

Height(in)

70

71.6

70.6

68.1

Ground clearance (in)

7.8

8.7

7.3

8.0

Wheelbase (in)

112.8

113.8

111

109.8

Track width (in) F/R

67/67

64.4/ 64.2

66.3/66.3

64.4/64.2

Newly updated rivals pose a challenge to the aging Ford Explorer. The all-new Subaru Ascent is surely a prime contender in the three-row crossover segment. It has the best in class ground clearance of 8.7-inches and sits on a wheelbase of 113.8-inches. 

What are the most notable features on the Outside?

  • LED taillights   
  • LED headlights  
  • Twin Exhaust  
  • Quad Exhaust  
  • Heated Rear View Mirror  
  • Auto-Dimming rearview mirror  
  • Moon Roof  
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Bonnet
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Bonnet
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Exhaust
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Exhaust
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Tire
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Tire
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Three Quarter view
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Three Quarter view
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Rear View
2020 Ford Explorer SUV Rear View

2020 Ford Explorer Safety

Ford Explorer comes with state of the art safety equipment that allows it to score well on the safety tests conducted by the agencies. Some of these features are mentioned below:

  • Front, Rear, and Third Row Head Airbags
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Post-Collision Safety System
  • Traction Control
  • Stability Control
  • Front and Rear Ventilated Disc Brakes
  • LED Headlamp
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring

2020 Ford Explorer Competition

Ford Explorer vs Subaru Ascent

Newly introduced Ascent is powered by a horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine. Transmission duties are taken care of by a CVT automatic transmission. Ascent is one of the better performing three-row SUVs available in the market. Being the costliest Subaru, Ascent brings a plethora of standard features. Unlike its competitors, it comes equipped with standard AWD and Subaru’s Eyesight safety system. The Subaru offers only one engine choice, a punchy turbocharged 4-cylinder, whereas the Explorer offers two robust engine choices, including a V6 even in the base model. While the Explorer is an excellent highway cruiser, the Ascent maintains Subaru’s tradition of off-road valor and is also surely a sharper handler when the road turns twisty.

2020 Subaru Ascent SUV
2020 Subaru Ascent SUV

Ford Explorer vs Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Pricing for the Honda Pilot starts at $31,450. Honda Pilot has been one of the best vehicles in this segment. The third generation of the Pilot was introduced in 2016. The pilot is a terrific choice and you can't go wrong decision in the three-row CUV market. With the updates received, the 2020 Honda Pilot comes off as more contemporary in design but Honda has addressed many of the shortcomings. The exterior gets some subtle changes. The 9-speed automatic transmission from ZF gets reworked to improve efficiency. The base engine in both the Pilot and the Explorer is a 3.5-liter V6, but the Honda engine returns better fuel economy, while both engines have very similar performance numbers.

2020 Honda Pilot SUV
2020 Honda Pilot SUV

Ford Explorer vs Toyota Highlander

Powered by a 2.7-liter inline-four engine, the Highlander makes a meager 185 hp and 184 lb-ft. of torque. Those numbers are underwhelming for a three-row SUV. With a full load of passengers and cargo, this mill struggles to keep up with other vehicles in its class. The Highlander is priced at $31,330. The Highlander, when equipped with the larger V6 engine, has enough gusto to get it going even with a full load of passengers and cargo without much drama. Compared to the V6 powered Explorer, the Highlander is best to be avoided with the base turbo-four configuration. It is thirstier in this form as the base engine constantly works in higher RPMs to satisfy the requirement. Considering the available options and value for the base model. We believe that your money is spent well someplace else.

2020 Toyota Highlander
2020 Toyota Highlander

 

2020 Ford Explorer Final Verdict

The Ford Explorer is the most popular model sold after the behemoth F series trucks. Getting close to being 30 years, the Explorer is one of the most recognizable nameplates in the SUV segment. Shortcomings are now addressed by using a new platform and a slew of powertrains options makes it more appealing to families all around the world. The explorer is set in the hearts of many Americans and it can do whatever you ask it to do almost as good as or better than the rivals. The hefty body is the very reason some love the explorer. All in all, if you like the explorer and are ready to pay more than you will pay for a similarly equipped competitor, get it.