By Beverly & Steve Smirnis
Redesigned from the ground up, the 2020 Ford Explorer is lighter, leaner, stronger and wider than before—you can fit a 4-foot wide plywood sheet in its cargo space. Behind the rear seats, is 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space; 47.9 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded, or 87.8 cubic feet with both folded. Yep, that could make it double as your stuff-hauler on workdays and the ultimate family transport for weekends. While many bells and whistles are included at other levels, our Platinum level tester, spoiled us rotten, adding adaptive headlights, a two-piece sunroof and ungraded leather upholstery. It was powered by the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, paired with 10-speed automatic, ready to tow up to 5,600 pounds. The price tag topped $60K with the addition of 21” premium aluminum wheels and the Premium Technology package adding massaging front seats, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. Ford still makes the Explorer to be family-friendly, and that it is—comfortable, classy and great-looking.
With its discontinuation of sedans and hatchbacks in the U.S., Escape is now Ford’s stand-alone small passenger vehicle. Whether powered by one of two EcoBoost® engines or either of the hybrid powertrain options, the estimated range of every kind of new Escape is at least 400 miles per tank. Efficiency is aided by the extensive use of high-strength, lightweight steel shedding more than 200 pounds from the previous model. We drove the SE Sport, which came with a lot of great creature comfort amenities and automatically got it the hybrid engine with 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine aided by two electric motors inside an electronic continuously variable automatic transmission. A best-in-class EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles is the target for the front-wheel drive full hybrid. The plug-in hybrid variant of the 2.5-liter hybrid, optional on the SE, SEL and Titanium models, sports an enlarged plug-in battery with capacity of 14.4 kWh, that Ford says will deliver a rated electric range of at least 30 miles. All this, plus its new longer and wider design delivers a roomy and stylish option among small SUVs.
So what’s next in Ford’s SUV line-up? Ford is adding its FX4 off-road package to the upscale 2020 Ford Expedition Limited. An all-new, all-electric SUV donning the iconic pony badge and the name Mustang Mach-E will be available in early 2021.
Beverly & Steve Smirnis are members of the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Texas Motor Press Association, reviewing vehicles and casting their votes at driving events where the Truck of Texas, Car of Texas, and Off-Road Truck of Texas are some of the titles awarded. Follow their automotive blog on TheSavvyList.com/The-Savvy-Driver.