Photo: Ford

The 2020 Ford Explorer is going to be endowed with two EcoBoost turbo engine options, autonomous parking capabilities, an ST performance variant and an infotainment system run off what looks like a gigantic portrait oriented tablet stuck to the dashboard. Interestingly, the SUV is also back to being rear-wheel drive based.

The trend of car infotainment screens looking more and more like phones is clearly coming close to a critical mass, as you can see by the 10.1-inch display tacked onto the Platinum trim’s dashboard here. The gauge pod is all-digital, too. (Note the the giant touchscreen is only in that top Platinum trim.)

Photo: Ford

The new Explorer naturally has a long options list of driver assistance features, but what Ford is calling “Active Park Assist 2.0” is probably the most interesting. This system apparently allows for essentially autonomous parking, though I noticed Ford appeared to avoid using the A-word and instead described this as “hands-free and foot-free parking.”

Advertisement

For those who prefer to keep their hands and feet busy while will probably appreciate better handling now that the Explorer is rear-wheel drive based again and has an advanced optional traction control system.

Photo: Ford

Advertisement

Even in its early square shaped iterations, the Explorer has always been a family car first and an off-roader second. Recently, a very distant second. But it appears that Ford is attempting to make this vehicle a little more adventurous with a new Terrain Management System that includes modes for “trail,” “deep snow and sand,” “slippery” and “sport.” that system will also include modes for “tow/haul,” “eco” and “normal” driving.

As for the ST performance trim, which joins the Edge ST to form Ford’s go-fast SUV team, we don’t really have any details yet beyond the fact that it will exist.

Advertisement

Same goes for the announced Limited Hybrid, though I would guess the specs might be similar to the hybrid police car version we just heard about. Besides those two trims the 2020 Explorer lineup will also include a base, XLT, Limited and fancy Platinum.

Photo: Ford

Advertisement

Two turbocharged engine options have been announced: a 3.0-liter V6 “projected to produce” as much as 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, and a familiar 2.3-liter four with a claimed output estimate of 300 hp and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. The bigger engine is supposed to be able to pull 5,600 pounds behind the new Explorer, and even the 2.3-liter is going to come with a total capacity rating of 5,300 when you pick the right options. Both come with a 10-speed automatic transmission and rear or optional four-wheel drive.

Inside, the 2020 Explorer will still have three rows of seating and the factory claimed cargo capacity moves up from 81.7 cubic feet with all the rear seats folded down to 87.8.

Advertisement

Photo: Ford

As for exterior dimensions, Ford says the new SUV is 198.8 inches long with a 119.1-inch wheelbase. That’s just a hair longer than the current one (198.7 inches) but it’s wheels are much further apart; today’s explore has a 112.8-inch wheelbase. Hypothetically, that should improve its stability.

Advertisement

It sounds like the new Explorer is actually a fairly significant departure from the outgoing SUV, but it always sounds like that’s the case the day of the launch presentation. So we will reserve judgment until we drive the thing, but moving to a rear-drive base and adding a lot more technology sounds like a good thing for a large family-hauling vehicle.

Live event pics:

Advertisement

Advertisement