The Ford Explorer gets a complete overhaul for the 2020 model year, with big improvements in terms of tech, safety and styling. This all-new Explorer looks to not only maintain the crossover's popularity, but expand its appeal even further.
That's important, since the three-row crossover segment is one of the most competitive in the automotive space. When the new Explorer goes on sale this summer, it'll face fierce competition from the likes of the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander, among others.
Let's take a look at how the 2020 Explorer is positioned against these well-known rivals.
Engine, transmission and towing
At launch, the 2020 Explorer will come standard with a 2.3-liter, turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. It's not the most powerful standard engine in the segment -- the Traverse's V6 beats it by a mere 10 horsepower -- but the Explorer offers substantial power compared to its rivals. The standard four-cylinder engines in the Highlander and Sorento look downright anemic by comparison.
For those wanting more oomph, the Explorer's optional 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 leads the class in horsepower and torque. The V6 boasts a 5,600-pound tow rating, which is slightly better than most other entrants in this segment. Only the Dodge Durango and Nissan Pathfinder do better with towing, the former able to tow as much as 8,700 pounds thanks to its optional V8 engine.
Engine, transmission and towing comparison
|Ford Explorer 2.3 EcoBoost||2.3-liter turbo I4||300||310||10-speed automatic||5,300|
|Ford Explorer 3.0 EcoBoost||3.0-liter twin-turbo V6||365||380||10-speed automatic||5,600|
|Toyota Highlander||2.7-liter I4||185||184||6-speed automatic||1,500|
|Toyota Highlander V6||3.5-liter V6||295||263||8-speed automatic||5,000|
|Honda Pilot||3.5-liter V6||280||262||6- or 9-speed automatic||5,000|
|Chevrolet Traverse||2.0-liter turbo I4||255||295||9-speed automatic||1,500|
|Chevrolet Traverse V6||3.6-liter V6||310||266||9-speed automatic||5,000|
|Kia Sorento||2.4-liter I4||185||178||6-speed automatic||2,000|
|Kia Sorento V6||3.3-liter V6||290||252||8-speed automatic||3,500|
The front fascia is the area that's undergone the most transformation, but it's arguably the blandest-looking bit of the whole package. The new crossover's flanks are more sculpted than the current Explorer's, which is a nice touch, but the rear looks pretty much identical to the 2019 model.
When it comes to the competition, there's not a rotten-looking apple in this bunch, but they have their quirks. Winning the award for most minivan-looking of the group is the Highlander, but the Sorento is a close runner-up. The Traverse is blocky-looking, especially in its base trim riddled with black plastic and small wheels. The Honda Pilot, on the other hand, looks the most windswept and unique.
Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it's perfectly fine if your design interpretations are the inverse of what's written above.