Ford debuts rear-wheel-drive 2020 Explorer

This will be the first SUV on this new platform to wear the Blue Oval badge.

Ford debuted the 2020 Explorer at an independent media event in Michigan late Wednesday, giving the world a taste of what to expect from its all-new, rear-wheel-drive mainstay SUV. 

The current Ford Explorer rides on a platform that traces its roots back to the company's ownership of Volvo. Shared with the Ford Flex and Ford Taurus, that front-wheel-drive chassis was capable enough to underpin a crossover, but many felt it lacked the bona fides to form the skeleton of something as important (and, at this point, borderline-iconic) as Explorer. 

No more. For 2020, Explorer is moving onto the brand-new, Ford-developed, rear-wheel-drive platform also found under the new 2020 Lincoln Aviator. While the latter will be powered exclusively by a pair of high-output V6s, Explorer's standard engine will be a workaday turbo-four. 

Paired to Ford's new ten-speed automatic, the 2.3L EcoBoost four will push 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque--not shabby at all for a base engine--and be available in either rear- or all-wheel-drive on base, XLT and Limited trims. 

In the range-topping Platinum, the only available powertrain combo will be a three-liter EcoBoost V6 making 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque and paired with the ten-speed and all-wheel-drive. For those keeping track at home, those power figures match those of the previous-generation 3.5L EcoBoost V6s available in Explorer (and elsewhere in the Ford lineup).

The Limited and Platinum models shown here match the sleek new exterior design with an upscale interior. A vertically mounted infotainment control screen will likely be the subject of conflicting opinions, but we'll withhold judgement until we have the opportunity to try it out for ourselves.

We know from spy photos (since confirmed by Ford) that a more-powerful ST model will join the Explorer lineup, likely sharing the up-rated engine to be offered in the top-spec Lincoln Aviator. We're also expecting electrification of the platform as the model matures.  

The 2020 Ford Explorer will go on sale later in 2019. Expect pricing details closer to launch. Stay tuned. 

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