2020 Ford Explorer Review: Best Explorer Yet?

Last year Ford introduced the all-new 6th generation Explorer, one of its most popular vehicles. The Explorer was launched with the more luxurious Lincoln Aviator (which we’ll review soon), the launch of these two very important vehicles didn’t go as planned, which I’m sure you’ve heard about by now. But now things are back on track and we finally got our hands on a 2020 Ford Explorer XLT, which is the base trim, we usually review top of the line trims, but it’s refreshing to see the lower trims once in a while.

2020 Ford Explorer Canadian Pricing

The 2020 Ford Explorer is offered in four trims, with the base XLT starting at $45,299, the Limited starts at $52,299, the ST starts at $59,099, and the top of the line Platinum has a starting price of $64,599. However, if you go to Ford Canada’s website, these prices will look different because Ford currently has a bunch of incentives depending on the trim you select.

The Limited trim can also be equipped with a hybrid powertrain for an additional $5,000.

Our review 2020 Ford Explorer XLT had total price of $54,999 before any incentives and taxes, below are the options added to our review vehicle:

Equipment Group 202A – $1,500

  • 8-Way Power Passenger Seats
  • ActiveX Seating Material
  • LED Fog Lamps with Skid Plate Elements, Front – Silver-Painted
  • Remote Start System

Floor Liners – $200

2nd Row 35/30/35 Bench Seat – $500

Twin Panel Moonroof – $1,750

Trailer Tow Package – $600

20” Premium Painted Aluminum Wheels – $1,000

Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ $1,000

  • Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Stop-and-Go
  • Lane Centering
  • Speed Sign Recognition
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link

Cold Weather Package – $1,300

  • Heated front and second row seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated windshield wiper de-icer

Destination & Delivery – $1,850


The 2020 Explorer is offered with three engine choices. The base engine, equipped on our review car, is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-4, which is also found on Mustang, Ranger, and Focus RS, producing 300 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 310 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. For those looking for more cylinders, the Explorer is also offered with a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine which has two different outputs depending on the trim of the vehicle. In the ST trim, this V6 produces 400 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 415 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. On the Platinum trim, the V6 produces 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 380 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm.

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid comes with a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6 engine, producing 318 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 322 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. All of these engines send power to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission.

According to Ford, the 2.3-liter engine equipped Explorers should consume 11.6/8.7/10.3 L/100 km in city/highway/combined driving. The 3.0-liter engine equipped Explorers should consume 13.3/9.8/11.8 L/100 km in city/highway/combined driving, while the Explorer Hybrid should consume 10.1/9.0/9.6 L/100 km.

I don’t know about the other engines, but our 2.3-liter engine equipped Explorer was nowhere near the claimed fuel consumption number. In pure city driving, the onboard computer showed 15.5 L/100 km and on the highway, it was at 11.0 L/100 km. These numbers were achieved with non-aggressive driving, I have been told I have a very smooth driving style. I have found Ford to be very optimistic with their 4-cylinder EcoBoost engines’ consumption figures. However, I do find small turbocharged engines to be nowhere near as fuel efficient as claimed by their manufacturers in normal real-world driving.

Driving the 2020 Ford Explorer

The big news on the 6th generation Ford Explorer is that it now uses a rear wheel drive platform instead of the previous generation’s front wheel drive platform. In reality, most people wouldn’t even know or care about this, people are not buying these types of vehicles for their sporty handling.

The rear wheel drive platform does make the Explorer feel “sporty” and I’d say it drives quite nicely, I would have to compare it back to back to the 2019 Explorer to really tell a difference. But overall, driving the 2020 Ford Explorer is not a bad experience, it’s pretty sporty for an SUV.

Our review Explorer was equipped with the 2.3-liter turbocharged engine, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I was not a fan of this engine. The engine itself is fine and it performs well in the Explorer, surprisingly. On the highway, it feels fine and passing at higher speeds isn’t a problem, the 10-speed downshifts quickly to give you the ability to pass and it’s decently fuel efficient at highway speeds.

My problem with it was in city driving, especially slow driving where your speeding up and down in city traffic, the transmission felt jerky and couldn’t decide which gear it wanted to be in. It almost felt like a cheap dual-clutch transmission. I also think having 10 gears is too much, a 4-cylinder engine doesn’t need a 10-speed transmission. I think the 4-cylinder engine would’ve been better suited with a 6-speed on the Explorer. If I were buying the Explorer, I’d definitely skip the 4-cylinder engine, which is not even very fuel efficient, in fact, I might even be able to get better fuel mileage from the V6, we’ll see how I do if/when I get a chance to review the V6 engine equipped Explorer.

2020 Ford Explorer Styling

2020 Ford Explorer XLT 3

I was a fan of the last generation Ford Explorer’s styling; the sixth generation Ford Explorer looks even better in my opinion. The overall shape is very similar between the two generations, especially at the back, but there are big differences in the body lines and a whole new front end.

The front end looks quite modern and refined looking, the new narrower headlights look really sharp. The front grill is available in black, depending on trim/options, which looks even sportier than the chrome grill on our review Explorer. There’s a sharp crease running from the front fender to the taillights, giving the Explorer a sporty/premium look.

Overall, I really like the way this SUV looks, I like it even more in the ST trim, which I’m hoping to review at some point in the near future.

2020 Ford Explorer Interior

2020 Ford Explorer XLT Interior

The interior on the 5th generation Explorer wasn’t bad, but after a while it did start to look aged, I did not like it at all towards the end of the design cycle, the look of the interior was shared with other Ford vehicles like the Edge. The new 2020 Explorer interior looks fresh, it’s more conventional looking, so I think it should age well.

Our review car came with the smaller 8” infotainment display, which has crisp graphics and is responsive. Higher trims get a huge, well not Tesla huge, 10.1” vertical screen, which looks pretty cool. With the smaller touchscreen on our review car, there’s a slot under the screen which perfectly fits any modern-day large phone. Below this section are a couple of knobs, for tuning/volume, and buttons for skipping songs, camera, and parking assist. Under this is a separate area for the climate control buttons, which are easy to understand and use. Below is a small storage section, the rotary knob for changing gears and a separate knob for driving modes, surrounded by a few buttons.

2020 Ford Explorer Platinum

The materials on the interior are a mix of soft and hard plastic, with some fake wood trim, and aluminum highlights. This gives the interior a more pleasing look, thanks to the use of different shades in the interior colors, the interior doesn’t look bland. However, some of the panel gaps were noticeable when materials changed from plastic to “wood”.

The interior is roomy, as you’d expect in a large vehicle like this, and it’s a comfortable place to be in. At lower speeds, some engine noise makes it into the cabin, but as speed is picked up, it gets quieter. The seats are comfortable in the front and the second row, the third-row seats are not too bad but they’re not a place an adult would want to be for an extended period of time.

Tech/Safety/Convenience Features

The 2020 Ford Explorer is full of the latest tech, convenience, and safety features. Although our review car wasn’t the top trim, it was still fairly well equipped and had a decent number of options. Below is a list of what can be had on the 2020 Ford Explorer.

  • Tri-zone electronic temperature control
  • Rear auxiliary climate control
  • Auto-Dimming Rear View Mirror
  • Active Park Assist 2.0
  • Post-Collision Braking
  • 360 Degree camera with split-view and washer
  • Wireless Charging Pad
  • Reverse Brake Assist
  • 12.3″ Digital productivity screen
  • Forward Sensing System
  • Remote keyless/illuminated entry
  • Intelligent Access with Push-Button Start
  • Lane Keeping System (includes Lane-Keeping Assist, Lane-Keeping Alert and Driver Alert System)
  • Power tilt/telescoping steering column
  • 12V Powerpoints, 3 total (1 first row, 1 second-row and 1 cargo area)
  • Rear View camera with washer
  • Remote Start
  • Reverse Sensing System
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Dual second-row smart charging USB ports
  • Voice-Activated Navigation System
  • PowerFold third row
  • Automatic LED Low-Beam Headlamps
  • Auto High-Beams
  • Hands-Free, Foot-Activated Liftgate
  • LED Headlights, Fog Lights, Taillights, Signature Lights
  • Automatic power folding mirrors
  • Acoustic-laminate windows glass front row side
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Terrain Management System
  • Intelligent 4WD
  • Trailer sway control
  • AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
  • Individual Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Final Thoughts on the 2020 Ford Explorer

I think Ford has done a great job on the 6th generation Explorer, it’s still the same great vehicle it always has been, and now it has been refined further. Using the rear-wheel drive platform is another positive for this vehicle. I personally like the Explorer a lot, but not so much the 2.3-liter engine; personally, I would only consider the V6 on the Explorer and vehicles in this class in general.

This segment is very crowded with a lot of great offerings by many manufacturers, if you’re looking for a large 6-7 seat SUV, make sure you test drive a 2020 Ford Explorer. For more information on the 6th generation Explorer, visit ford.ca.




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When I'm not reviewing the latest cars, I'm busy checking out the latest gadgets and watches by the world's best manufacturers. Cars, gadgets, and watches... that's all a man needs to get through life.

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