We reviewed the 2020 Ford Explorer recently, now we get down to the nitty gritty to see if you should actually buy it.
The Ford Explorer may have been one of the first midsize SUV’s when it first day viewed back in 1991, but in now faces a full battalion of capable offerings, and not just from American brands, but also from Japanese, Korean and German carmakers.
For its sixth generation, Ford raises the bar; offering five different flavors of its popular three-row truck, all while stepping up its technical game. Consumers can now choose from a choice of four compelling drivetrains, three different towing ratings, and a rather convincing ST high-performance variant.
So, should you consider buying a 2020 Ford Explorer over say, a Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Envision, Dodge Durango, Subaru Ascent or Volkswagen Atlas? It’s a tough one to answer since all of the aforementioned vehicles bring something unique to the table.
We dig deep into the question to find out if you should, or shouldn’t buy a 2020 Ford Explorer.
Why You Should Buy A 2020 Ford Explorer
- The 2020 Ford Explorer comes in a variety of different flavors that should suit your needs. Base models are powered by a potent turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder good for 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Second in the lineup is a first-ever hybrid model which combines a 3.3-liter V6 and a tiny electric motor for a combined 318 horsepower. Finally, the Explorer Platinum tops the segment with a rather impressive twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 good for a claimed 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, all Explorers come standard with all-wheel drive, which isn’t the case for all of its rivals.
- This new Explorer offers three different towing ratings depending on your needs. While the last-generation model maxed out at 5,000 pound (2,276 kg) towing capacity when powered by a V6 engine, the 2020 model takes off at that rating but with a four-cylinder power. The hybrid is the most impressive of the group, capable of pulling up to 5,300 pounds (2,404 kg), while the Platinum will pump that number up to a class-leading 5,600 pounds (2,540 kg). Only the Nissan Pathfinder and the Dodge Durango outgun the Explorer in towing. However, to achieve such ratings, customers need to equip their SUV with Ford’s Class III Trailer Tow Package, a $710 add-on. Meanwhile, both the Explorer Platinum and Explorer ST come standard with the package.
- If you’re looking to inject a bit of performance in your family hauler, the Explorer ST should fit the bill. Thanks to the Explorer’s new rear-wheel drive architecture, this SUV handles like a large German sedan rather than a truck. In ST trim, Ford pushes things a little further by way of a lowered and stiffer suspension, larger sway bars and brakes. What’s more, the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 gets bumped to 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. In this configuration, the Explorer suddenly becomes a serious rival to much more expensive European SUV’s such as the BMW X5, the Jaguar F-Pace or even the Porsche Cayenne.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy A 2020 Ford Explorer ST
- While this all-new Explorer drives in a much more engaging way than its predecessor and presents itself through a significantly better packaged product, it’s hard to turn away from its disappointing cabin materials. Even in the more upscale Explorer Platinum trim, which sells for a not-so-cheap $64,599 (before freight and destination), cheap plastics and shady build quality plagues the entire cabin. The issue at hand here is that it’s easy to find better quality materials in the Korean competition which sells for several thousands of dollars less.
- Ford updated its Sync 3 interface for the 2020 Explorer by incorporating it in an all-new 10.1-inch screen that sits on the center of the dashboard in a portrait-style layout. While were not fans of this design, we’re even more disappointed by the system’s reactions speeds, which not only takes forever to boot up once it’s turned on, but takes an observable delay to load pages when selected. This is unusual given that the last-generation system was a peach in speed and ergonomics.
- The last-generation Explorer wasn’t a star in terms of reliability. With vehicles such as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and even the Korean brands now recording stellar reliability records, the Explorer has a steep hill to climb to regain consumer trust. What’s more, with a base price of $45,199 (before freight and destination), and easily climbing past the $60,000 mark, the Explorer isn’t necessarily cheaper than its direct competition. Here’s to hoping the 2020 Explorer is more reliable than the vehicle it replaces.
What we Tell Our Friends About the 2020 Ford Explorer
Ford’s latest Explorer raises the bar in terms of design, cabin space and technology, offering consumers a wide range of engines, trim levels and towing ratings to satisfy all needs. These are qualities that can’t exactly be found in competing midsize SUV’s, which typically offer one engine and towing rating.
We’re also huge fans of the Explorer ST. If you can afford it, it’s one of the only three-row SUV’s that can perform this well on a country road.
However, with the Explorer selling for a significantly higher price point than the competition, especially in its higher trim levels, a less than average reliability rating, and mediocre cabin materials, Ford’s latest midsizer could have a hard time rivaling new entries from Kia, Hyundai and Subaru, vehicles that offer more at a more affordable price.