This week I bring you a beautiful and very fast SUV, the 2020 Ford Explorer ST. ST by the way, stands for Sport Technology and this hot-looking SUV is packed with it.
The big change for 2020 with all Explorers is Ford changed to rear-wheel drive after being front-wheel drive since 2011. However, the ST is all-wheel drive for performance, but it is rear wheel drive biased, meaning under normal conditions, the power goes to the rear wheels.
This is a very attractive vehicle to me, with a large mesh grill, front fog lights that are also air vents, a C-shaped indention in the hood, fantastic 21” wheels, a rear spoiler, and quad exhaust.
A note about the exhaust pipes: the exhaust doesn’t actually come out of the back of the pipes, it comes out holes underneath near the rear, to keep the tips from turning black. Very smart move!
For me, the big story is under the hood. This is where you’ll find a heavily braced 3-liter V6 with twin turbos putting out 400-horses and 415-pound feet of torque. It is mated to a 10-speed shiftable automatic that shifts with speed and determination. 0-to-60 is a quick 5.5 seconds and top speed is 146 miles per hour.
Inside, the ST has a very nice interior with soft leather seats that are bolstered, but not too much. Heavy white stitching accents the door panels, the seats, and runs across the dash.
As you sit behind the heated and cooled power seat and hit the start button, a colorful 12” LCD gauge display greets you and it’s as terrific as I’ve ever seen. Gauges are easy to read and configure.
As you change the drive modes from the center console, the dash display changes as well. You can choose from normal, eco, tow/haul, trail, slippery, and of course my favorite, sport. Each mode changes the parameters of the SUV dramatically.
One surprise when I got inside was a 10.1” vertical touchscreen that sits high on the dash. At first it looked like an afterthought, but once you experience it, you see the benefit of using it while keeping your eyes on the road.
From the screen you operate the audio system, navigation, voice activation, apps, settings, Bluetooth, Apple Car Play and Android Auto. The screen is lightning fast and easy to operate.
Under that are knobs for volume and tuning the radio, which I love, and all your air conditioning controls.
The center console is well done with a rotary gear shifter, drive mode selector, a closeable cubby hole with USB and power points, buttons for the brake hold, a button to turn off the start/stop system, and a wireless phone charger.
The heated back captain chairs offer good leg and head room, and the rear seat occupants can control their own temperature and have a 12-volt power plug and USB port. A button on top of the rear seats slide them forward for easy access to the 3rd row, which is much roomier than in years past. Rear A/C vents are in the ceiling, which I really like.
Cargo area with the 3rd row seat up is quite good, and there is more storage underneath. From the rear area, you can put the 3rd row seats down with the push of a button.
Standard Equipment and Options
The ST comes extremely well equipped with standard features including power liftgate, power tilt wheel, park assist, trailer towing package, reverse sensing, rear camera, keyless entry on the fob or the driver’s door, and remote start.
The ST also comes with a host of standard safety features.
Options include a twin panel moonroof, technology package which gives you the big touchscreen, and the Street Pack, which gives you performance brakes and the 21” wheels.
Ride and Drive
This SUV drives fantastic and the acceleration is shocking. It has a great exhaust sound and the handling in hard turns is like driving on rails. It is a true performance SUV, yet would easily double as a comfortable daily driver or family hauler.
Fuel Economy and What You’ll Pay
Fuel economy is good at 18 city and 24 highway. Total MSRP as equipped is $60,295 and after driving the Ford Explorer ST, I am surprised it isn’t more.
Whether you want to spend time on a track, or just be first in the carpool line, this SUV is going to be hard to resist.
One really neat feature with this ST is you and guests get to attend a ST driving experience, including a one-night hotel stay, dinner reception, breakfast and lunch the following day, a full day driving experience, and there are even gifts for you.
2020 Ford Explorer ST
- What I liked most: Acceleration, value, and handling.
- What I would change: Really nothing, I like everything!
- MSRP: Base price $56,670, as equipped $60,265
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 18 in town/24 highway/20 overall.
- Official Color: Star White Metallic Tri-Coat.
- Odometer reading when tested: 30 miles.
- Weight: 4345 pounds
- Spare Tire: Full-sized spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 198.8” long/78.9” wide/69.9” tall.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 20.2 gallons with the filler on the driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: 5600 pounds.
- 2020 Explorer ST in a few words: Fantastic power and handling, but also a very comfortable daily driver at a great price point.
- Final Assembly Location: Chicago, IL.
- Manufacturers website: www.FORD.com
- Warranty: 36-month/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance.