2020 Ford Explorer Goes Rear-Wheel Drive, Steals Lincoln Engine

Adam Tonge
by Adam Tonge
2020 ford explorer goes rear wheel drive steals lincoln engine

Since former CEO Mark Fields announced Ford would bring the Bronco and Ranger back to the United States, the Blue Oval rumor mill has focused mainly on those vehicles. With the 2019 Ford Ranger now out of the bag, car enthusiasts everywhere will now hone their attention on the 2020 Ford Bronco.

However, the Bronco is not the most important new Ford in 2020. That honor goes to the next-generation 2020 Ford Explorer, a vehicle that diverges from the current model in significant ways.

Even though the Explorer’s underpinnings are a decade old, 2017 was its best sales year in the United States since 2004. Last year saw the Explorer flex its muscles and freestyle its way to 271,000 U.S. units sold. The last time Explorer volume dipped under 200,000 units was 2013. It’s a sales powerhouse that, along with F-Series trucks and the Ford Edge, has significantly increased Ford Motor Company’s average vehicle transaction price. America’s insatiable lust for crossovers led Ford to add the premium-priced Sport and Platinum trims to the Explorer line.

Ford plans to continue the trend of high transaction prices in a premium product by moving the next Explorer to a rear-wheel-drive platform.

We were the first to tell you the next Explorer would be rear-wheel drive. Now, thanks to TTAC’s Blue Oval sources, we have details. The Explorer and its Lincoln counterpart will be built on Ford’s new modular CD6 platform at the Chicago Assembly Plant. This platform is a flexible one, accommodating front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive products, and has been described as a significant chunk of the $5 billion Ford allocated to Lincoln’s revival.

Unlike the F-series trucks, the Explorer and its Lincoln counterpart will have mostly steel body panels.

Sources tell TTAC that the Explorer will boast four engine options. The only engine to carry over from the current Explorer is the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder . The 3.5-liter V6, which is the Explorer’s volume engine, will be replaced by a 3.3-liter V6. This is currently the entry level engine in the F-150.

The 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and Sport trim will be no longer be options on the Explorer. Instead, an Explorer ST will debut with the company’s 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. Currently, this engine makes 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque in the Continental and MKZ. Because this is an ST vehicle and the V6 engine will be mounted longitudinally, expect a bump in power. The Explorer will also sport a hybrid option. Ford expects this option to further enhance the Explorer’s dominance over the police vehicle market. The 10-speed transmission found in the F-150 and Mustang will also be available in the Explorer.

The Explorer’s Lincoln sibling will have fewer engine options. Standard equipment will be the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6. The only other powertrain option will be a plug-in hybrid version of the same engine. Our sources claim it will boast a better electric range than the current Energi-badged Ford vehicles. Both engines will send power to the drive wheels through Ford’s 10-speed transmission.

We reached out to Ford Motor Company for comment, but a spokesperson stated the company doesn’t speculate about future products. Production of the sixth-generation Explorer starts in spring of 2019.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • John Horner John Horner on Feb 04, 2018

    Bit by bit the Ford platforms with lots of 1990s Volvo DNA in them are moving on. I wonder how long the Ford Flex will stick around?

  • DelsFan DelsFan on Oct 12, 2019

    OK, the 2020 Explorers are available for purchase - hooray! We have an alternative to the Highlander, Pilot, and CX-9 (my favorite), which may not make me mad every time I have to drive it, or torque steer my spouse into the ditch when she experiences a minor emergency! But wait! Discounting the loss-leading XLT model, you can't get into an Explorer for less than, gasp, $50K! Back to the (Subaru) drawing board.

  • Cprescott I remember when Fords were affordable.
  • Cprescott As a once very LOYAL FORD buyer, I had to replace my 22 year old Ford (bought new in 1997) once it finally started to have problems at 180k miles. I would have gladly purchased something like this from Ford but they abandoned me as a car buyer. Oddly, Hyundai still builds cars in a variety of flavors so I became a customer of theirs and am very happy. Likely will consider another once this one gets up in mileage.
  • SCE to AUX A friend once struck a mounted tire that was laying flat in the middle of her lane on the PA Turnpike. She was in a low late-90s Grand Prix, and the impact destroyed the facia, core support, radiators, oil pan, transmission, subframe, and suspension. They fixed it all.
  • Dukeisduke Lol, it's not exactly a Chevrolet SS with Holden badging.
  • Dukeisduke Years ago, I was driving southbound along North Central Expressway (south of Mockingbird Lane, for locals), and watched a tire and wheel fall out of the bed of a pickup (no tailgate), bounce along, then centerpunch the front end of a Honda Accord. It wasn't pretty.