2020 Ford Explorer XLT review: The original family SUV gets better

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By Asian Journal Auto Editor

Star of the original Jurassic park movie, the newest version of the Ford Explorer continues on as one of the best mid-size SUVs available as it enters a sixth generation revamp. Freshly redesigned for 2020, the Explorer starts out with a brand new rear-wheel drive platform, more added technology, a hybrid option and a high performance ST model with 400 horsepower under the hood.

There is the same elongated, boxy look offset by nicely rendered front and rear fascia adding a sporty demeanour.  Different models add or delete chrome trim, while various wheel and tire combination in different sizes; including in -vogue black finished rims add to the contemporary look.

The Explorer offers two gasoline engines in three configurations, all mated to variously tuned 10-speed automatic transmission setups. We tested the 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder XLT model prodding 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, offering is 5,300 lb of towing when properly equipped. Fuel economy numbers for this engine are approx. 11.6 L/100 km/city, 8.7/highway, and 10.3 combined.

The larger 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that comes standard in the higher level  Platinum delivers figures of 365 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, The maximum towing amount is raised to 5,600 lb, while fuel economy is rated at 13.3 L/100 km/city, 9.8 highway, and 11.8 combined. Available on the Upscale Limited model only is a hybrid powertrain, a 3.3-litre naturally aspirated V6 combined with a hybrid system that’s good for a combined output of 318 hp.  The Explorer hybrid can motor around 55 km/h on electric power for a short time.

Big changes are also in evidence when it comes to the interior. The dashboard can now be optioned as a fully digital affair. A new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is also an optional extra, with its cool “mindful mode” that can delete unnecessary information. The center stack houses the as standard 8.0 inch landscape touchscreen or the optional 10.1-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen placed a little awkwardly it seems. However Fords excellent Sync 3 infotainment system makes up for it, with its ease of use, and crystal clear graphics. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a built-in 4G LTE WiFi hotspot are standard across the Explorer model range, while a wireless charging pad and up to 4 USB ports are available. The Explorer also gets the cool rotary shift knob allowing for more acreage on the center console for storage. Ambience wise the dash and door panels are covered in soft touch plastic that looks are both upmarket and durable. Nice leather adorns the seta and the very nice metal and chrome detailing ads some sparkle to an overall nicely finessed interior.

The seats were very comfortable, and the slimmer design allows for for more rear passenger knee room in the second-row space. Second and third   row occupants gain the same level of fit and finish in the trim and seating departments, Ford also offers power-folding second and third-row seats as optional extras. Seating rows are spacious and easy to move around and reconfigure, and they fold completely flat for a cargo area that stretches out to offer nearly 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space – wide enough to fit standard sheet of 4 x 8 -foot ply.

The 2020 Explorer comes standard with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams as standard equipment under the Co-Pilot360 Safety Suite. Adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system are available as optional extras. Also fitted is evasive steering assist and post-impact braking, which automatically applies the brakes after a crash to prevent the car from rolling. Ford also offers a park-assist system that does not require the driver to touch the steering wheel or pedals.

On the road, the Explorer is one of the best -handling seven-seat SUV’s I have driven for a long time. The new rear-wheel drive platform gave the Explorer terrific, precise handling. A well- designed chassis, and good shock absorbance.  Combined with sharp steering and quick none fade braking – the Explorer proved to be a competent, composed driver on the highway and has a tight turning radius for easy steering in urban areas. Aiding in the driving experience is a smooth shifting 10 speed transmission that offers up good acceleration,

The Explorer also features seven driver selectable drive modes. Normal is the default whole Sport liven up things a bit, firming the steering and changing shift parameters. An eco-mode helps in fuel economy, and there is a useful Tow/Haul, mode. To deal with challenging terrain there is are modes for: Slippery, Deep snow/Sand, and Trail. The rough-terrain modes   give the Explorer a modicum of help on rough, rocky. Downsides are few, the cramped third row is almost a normal flaw in this segment. Otherwise the Explorer is really the total package with a handsome non – polarizing look, great ride and handling, and a nicely detailed hushed cabin. Highly recommended for families everywhere.

2020 Ford Explorer XLT: Priced from – $45,199 Price as tested with options destination and delivery: $54,999. 

More info at www.ford.ca