Ford has kicked off 2019 by revealing its 2020 Explorer midsize SUV during a splashy event at Ford Field in Detroit that drew several thousand media members, dealers, and Ford employees who watched CEO Jim Hackett and other executives debut the sixth generation nameplate that has sold more than 8 million units since 1991.
The 2020 Explorer arrives in a year that will bring a string of new Ford vehicles, including the Explorer-based 2020 Police Interceptor Utility for law enforcement fleets that arrived Jan. 4 and a hybrid-electric Explorer that will debut at the Detroit auto show next week.
The new Explorer will be a "pace car for a whole new utility lineup," said Jim Farley, Ford's executive vice president, from a stage above one of the field's endzones. Ford has seen its Explorers purchased by pharmaceutical companies among its commercial buyers, according to a company spokesman.
While the 2020 Explorer's exterior styling remains similar to the outgoing model, the three-row SUV gets plenty of other updates, including the company's CoPilot 360 suite of advanced safety technologies and an available 10.1-inch portrait touchscreen. All models get forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alert, while higher trim grades offer traffic sign recognition, reverse brake assist, and a 360-degree camera.
The Explorer has shed its 3.5-liter V-6, and base models are now powered by the turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four cylinder (300 hp and 310 lb.-ft.). The Explorer Platinum offers the twin turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 (365 hp and 380 lb.-ft.).
Shedding 200 pounds from the outgoing model, the Explorer remains a unibody vehicle, but will shift to rear-wheel-drive architecture with available all-wheel drive. Ford expects to sell 60% of its 2020 Explorers with rear-wheel-drive and 40% with all-wheel drive.
Models wil include the base Explorer, XLT, Limited, Limited Hybrid, ST, and Platinum trims. Details about the hybrid and ST models will come on Jan. 14 at the Detroit auto show. The base Explorer will go on sale this summer for at least $33,860, which is about $400 higher than a comparable outgoing model.