Ford on Wednesday revealed the next-generation 2020 Ford Explorer, and despite a similar exterior design to the previous model, it’s come gunning for the SUV market and has the Chevrolet Traverse in its sights.
The 2020 Ford Explorer is brand-spanking-new from the ground up and rides on the automaker’s CD6 platform. The architecture moves the Explorer back to rear-wheel drive after years of sharing a platform with the Taurus sedan. It’s not a body-on-frame SUV, but the platform opens up the cabin for more interior space and helps improve towing.
How much greater towing figures? Ford said at its announcement the SUV will tow 5,300 pounds with a Class III Trailer Tow package compared to 3,000 pounds from the current model. The 2019 Chevrolet Traverse can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the 3.6-liter V6 engine.
Elsewhere, the 2020 Explorer brings over a dozen new standard features to the party, including a 2.3L EcoBoost engine and 10-speed transmission, an 8-inch digital touchscreen with Sync 3 infotainment, a FordPass Connect Wi-Fi service for up to 10 devices, a power liftgate, and a new digital instrument cluster.
The 2.3L EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder will produce 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque and is standard on the base, XLT, and Limited models. That’s 10 ponies down from the Traverse’s V6 engine, but plenty more torque compared to 266 units of twist.
Inside the new Explorer, it arguably makes the Traverse look archaic. An iPad-like display sits in the center with a digital cockpit in front of the driver. Real buttons and knobs are scattered over the console with a dial to select a gear for the 10-speed automatic transmission. A Terrain Management System also includes numerous driver-selectable modes for both RWD and 4WD models.
And the 2020 Explorer dances around the Chevrolet Traverse in the active safety department. Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 standard suite of active-safety features is, well, standard. It includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, rearview camera, and automatic headlights with auto high beams. Evasive steering assist, active park assist 2.0 and reverse brake assist are also optional technologies.
Traverse buyers will need to spend thousands more to unlock and standard active safety features. And all of the extra standard goodies come in at just $400 more than the previous starting price for a current-generation Explorer.
The first 2020 Ford Explorer models will roll off of the Chicago assembly plant’s line later this year before they reach dealers in summer 2019. The Chevrolet Traverse has just been placed on notice.