2020 Ford Explorer Reviewed

The SUV, with the title of ‘America’s all-time best-selling SUV,’ is back with an all-new model for 2020; meet the Ford Explorer Limited.

The Explorer is often the go-to option for someone looking for a family SUV, but with its rivals upping their game, Ford needed to maintain its top spot.

A family SUV of this size predominantly comprises three things; convenience (of driving and being driven in), space (for people and their belongings), and technology (driving, entertainment, and safety). And that is how I am going to break this review down in alphabetical order.

Convenience (of driving and being driven in)
The 2020 Ford Explorer comes in a variety of trims starting with the base, XLT, Limited, and the sportier ST model. Limited is the range-topper before the trim changes to the sports-focused kit.
Powered by a 2.3litre EcoBoost engine, the 2020 Explorer gets 300hp, 420nm of torque, and drives this power through a 10-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels and 4WD kicks in when necessary. This is important because no car in this segment has rear-wheel drive, just front, and 4WD.
Ultimately, this shift makes the Explorer more agile, smoother, and fun to drive – which is hard to discuss in this segment. While Ford’s intentions were in the right place, the engine is loud and not in a fun way. If you get past that, the drivetrain is smooth and would make a comfortable family hauler.

That is not where the convenience ends, though, because Ford has paid a lot of attention to this for 2020. The driver gets a lot of convenient features to keep calm while the kids scream in the back:

  • Full LED signature lighting for the best road lighting at night
  • Fully electric mirrors, steering wheel, and seat controls
  • Plenty of charging ports and wireless charging
  • Android Auto or Apple Car Play built-in (Requires a cable)
  • Massive panoramic glass sunroof
  • 360-degree cameras (Critical on a 5-meter long car)
  • And more!

For the rest of the cabin, there is plenty of convenience for the family, too.
Second-row seats get two ISOFIX-ready, reclining and sliding seats, window shades, USB ports, and even a full-230V power outlet.

Dual-zone climate control and heated seats are also standard on the Limited model.

One thing that I do find odd is the placement of the air conditioning vents; I never was a fan of the roof-mounted ones, and you have one on either side. Bummer.

Moving to the third-row is where things start to get tough. Because, up until this point, moms and dads had it easy, quick, and electric. Accessing the third-row seats requires pulling a manual lever and pulling the seat’s back and bottom forward. This is not easy. I would imagine a mom carrying bags, or even a baby might find this tough.

I wish that Ford had made this either electric or easy-to-do with one hand, and it simply is not.
Once you get to the third-row seats, things are better again with two ISOFIX-ready seats, lighting, and air conditioning.

The limited model also has a foot-operated rear trunk that opens when you wave your foot underneath the car. While this is a great idea, it has worked for me about half the times that I have tried.
One last positive thing, especially for extremely hot regions like ours, is remote-start, and I must admit, it works from quite a distance.

Space (for people and their belongings)
The 2020 Ford Explorer will comfortably transport your family of up to 7 individuals quite nicely. With a 5-meter long and 2-meter wide SUV, it should cater to families, but you never know, and that is why you are reading this.

Upfront, there are two rather wide and comfortable passenger seats with plenty of head and legroom, adjustability, and are electrically controlled. And, for those summer afternoons, the seats can be cooled (or heated if that’s your thing).

The dashboard is spaced out and ergonomic, and since we are speaking of space, there is a large door pocket, suitable for big bottles, but the center console is where things get spacious.
Farthest from the driver sits a little pocket with a power socket, a standard USB and a USB Type-C port with enough space for cables, wallet, access cards, and more. There is a slight indentation when the pocket lid is closed to allow cables through.

To the right of the gear selector, sits a little pocket good enough for the remote or as a smartphone stand, two cupholders, and the best bit: a wireless charging pad. Do note that extra-large phones like the Samsung Note 10+ will struggle to get a fit.

If you think that is it, it is not. The center armrest also has a deep storage compartment with a power socket and a tray to keep things at the top.
Second-row seats get a lot of space too, with plenty of legroom and headroom for three adults to be comfortable. The transmission tunnel is shallow, so moving across the vehicle or sitting in the middle will not be hard.

Door pockets are decent, and there seems to be a square cup holder as well. There is a significant side step inside the vehicle to help climbing into the SUV when the door is open, great for kids!

The center console houses the air condition controls and a small pocket below it for the kid’s sandwiches or something. I could not find a proper use for them.
The third-row seats are essentially halfway through the trunk. There is limited storage here with a cup holder and side pocket on either side. For the passengers, though, I would not recommend these for adults (while they could fit) these seats are better suited for kids.

And finally, there is a trunk, even after all that. With all seats up, there is storage for up to 515litres. While they have not stated otherwise, I would assume that it is inclusive of the space under the floor. I find that super useful for items that may roll around.

Third-row seats are electrically controlled, both down and up. Fold both the second and third-row, and you have a colossal 2486litres of room, which should be good enough for a medium-sized helicopter.

Technology (driving, entertainment, and safety)
The 2020 Ford Explorer has refreshed it’s technology pack and comes with features to keep drivers more focused, passengers entertained, and safe.
Kicking off with driver features, safety, and assistance:

  • Seven airbags as standard with SafetyCanopy technology
  • A blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert
  • LED signature lighting
  • Lane-keeping and lane-centering system
  • Adaptive cruise control and auto-hold electric brake
  • Pedestrian detection and forward collision warning
  • Dynamic brake support and evasive steering assist
  • Post-collision braking
  • Hill-decent control and terrain management system
  • 360-degree camera

These features should support driving and safely moving your family with this SUV.
While Ford has crammed many of these features into the Explorer, I wish the Limited model had the updated 12.3-inch driver information display. An analog display with a screen in the middle does not seem fitting in 2020. The center dash screen also looks dated. Simplistic and to-the-point but dated, with solid colors and near-to-no graphics.

Ford has also updated the terrain management system in the new Explorer with seven driving modes. These modes help the vehicle drive through and maneuver a lot of rough off-road terrain that would otherwise cripple the SUV.
This is not a dune-bashing and off-roading beast, but with sufficient road clearance, 4WD, and driving modes, it can handle a surprising amount of off-roading with seven people on-board.
With those aspects covered, I did want to spend a little time discussing the design.

The previous generation Explorer was an elegant SUV and had cues from the Range Rover (Sorry, Ford). This gave it a more premium stance on the road. For 2020, while the rest of the vehicle is easily identifiable as an Explorer, the front is subtle and looks like a simple Ford design.
While it is a handsome SUV, it has lost some of its edge in the design department.
So, where does this leave the 2020 Ford Explorer? At the top, where it has been for years. They focused on basics and upgraded as much of it as possible and even re-engineered the vehicle dynamics. Rear-wheel drive to improve driving pleasure, convenience features to make it more liveable than ever and packed with technology to satisfy your essential needs.
Could you ask for more? Probably. Would you need more? No.

Special thanks to Ford Middle East for providing all the necessary safety and sanitary products required for the review along with the media kit, and thorough cleaning prior to delivery.

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