Ford Motor Company is widely expected to launch an all-new Ford Explorer, a model that will take on GM’s Chevrolet Traverse in the full-size, mainstream crossover segment. And not only will the new Explorer be based on a new rear-drive platform, but it will also have a new 2020 Explorer ST variant for those looking for more performance – something that the Traverse simply does not offer.
New spy photos, captured by our sister site Ford Authority, show the 2020 Explorer ST undergoing testing. The model will replace the current-generation Explorer Sport in the Explorer lineup. The new Explorer ST is expected to be powered by one of two turbo-charged six-cylinder engines: a high-output variant of the Ford 2.7L EcoBoost V6 making at least 325 horsepower and 400 pound feet of torque, or the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 making 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Both gearboxes are expected to be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission (co-developed with GM) driving all for wheels via an all-wheel-drive system.
Meanwhile, the second-generation Chevrolet Traverse is offered with two far less-powerful engines: the naturally-aspirated 3.6L V6 LFY (310 horsepower / 266 pound-feet of torque) is the standard motor, while the turbo-charged 2.0L I4 LTG (257 horsepower / 295 pound-feet of torque) is exclusive to the Traverse RS. Both motors are mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, with all-wheel-drive being an option.
The Traverse’s competitive disadvantage compared to the upcoming 2020 Explorer ST is evident in those numbers alone. But that’s not all. The other big news is that Ford is switching the 2020 Explorer to an all-new architecture that will enable a longitudinal powertrain orientation and rear-wheel-drive, though the Explorer ST will likely have an AWD system as standard. Both factors should translate to a very healthy front-rear weight distribution, making Ford’s offering more pleasant to drive – especially in turning.
The availability of a higher-performing model variant, along with a proper 50-50 front-rear weight distribution, will likely continue the trend of Explorer consistently outselling Traverse, while carrying the title of America’s best-selling full-size crossover SUV.
Another factor contributing to the Explorer consistently outselling the Traverse is a strategic decision by Ford to offer a model dedicated to police duty. Called the Police Interceptor Utility, police-specific Explorer variant is the best-selling crossover for police fleets. Meanwhile, Chevy has not offered the Traverse for police duty, something that probably won’t change much in the near future.
At the end of the day, Chevrolet’s inability to offer a single sporty or performance-crossover SUV in its lineup is not only puzzling, but downright troubling – especially given the ongoing rise in the popularity of crossover utility vehicles.
In the meantime, head on over to Ford Authority to see the latest 2020 Explorer ST spy shots.