By on May 1, 2019

Let’s get one thing clear: it is my opinion that the 2020 Explorer XLT is not the best 2020 Explorer. Powered by a 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-pot, the XLT falls far short of the 400 horsepower 3.0-liter Ecoboost V6 found in ST trim. As a proponent of acceleration, your author will always select the biggest engine.

Not everyone will, however. Scads of buyers, many of whom lie directly in the target market of Ford’s new Explorer, will think the 300 horse mill is more than suitable. In that frame of mind, let’s find out what $36,675 buys you at a Ford store these days.

The myopic and cataract-addled will carp that the 2020 Explorer doesn’t look significantly different from the 2019 model, at least not different enough to warrant the label of “new.” What they fail to register is the switch to a big-league rear-drive platform, the Explorer configuration that nature and Henry Ford intended. The XLT is indeed a RWD machine, with the addition of 4×4 tacking $2,000 onto the Monroney. A ten-speed automatic is standard across the board.

Colors aplenty dot the XLT’s order sheet, with the natty Atlas Blue leading the way in your author’s jaundiced eye. Sadly, the tasty Rapid Red is a $395 extra. While on the subject of paint colors, whatever happened to creative paint names at Ford. Does anyone else remember the likes of Clear Crystal Blue Frost and Medium Canyon Red Clearcoat Metallic? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Post your favorites in the comments below.

Anyway, the Explorer XLT  is peppered with LED maps front and rear, though this model is devoid of fog lamps, narking to the neighbours about your entry-level status. It does have a power tailgate, tri-zone climate control, and Ford CoPilot360. The latter brings nannies such as lane keeping and automatic emergency braking to the party. Those 65-series tires look reassuringly thick in a world filled with low profile rubber bands.

In terms of tech, shoppers will find plenty of 12V and USB ports in which to charge their devices, plus satellite radio and a wifi hotspot. There’s the expected rear view camera but, in a fit of practicality, features a lens washer that’ll spritz the thing with fluid on command. Snazzy trims get the oddly positioned tablet-style touchscreen spanning 10.1 inches. This XLT is said to have an 8.0-inch screen but pictures of the same are scarce. I’ll reserve judgement on the appearance of this particular square-peg-round-hole conundrum until I see one in person.

I’ll note here that the Explorer microsite mentions a trim level below the XLT which bins the LED lights and a few other minor features. It has vanished from the build-and-price tool, however, so we’ll go with this XLT trim as the cheapest available Explorer for now. Priced in the mid-30’s, the 2020 Ford Explorer XLT seems to be a compelling package with sufficient kit to nudge the value-for-dollar meter in the right direction.

[Images: Ford]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

 

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39 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Ford Explorer XLT...”


  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    “XL” or “XLS” would normally be sub-XLT and have black door handles and possibly even hubcaps like some police-spec Exploders. Yuck.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    As for the styling, I understand there’s a new chassis and that’s great, but the styling is not better than before. People liked that it looked like a Range Rover – this new one, umm, doesn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      That’s what the Aviator is for. Not necessarily to mimic a Range Rover exactly, but give the cleaner lines with upscale styling to set it apart from the mainstream vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Actually, it looked more like a Land Rover Discovery than a Range Rover, which is fitting, since I believe the same person that designed some of the Land Rover vehicles designed the previous-gen Explorer.

      I think they’ve improved on the styling. This one doesn’t have the same bloated look as the old one did (probably due to the hard points of the old D4 platform), and the RWD architecture creates a better dash-to-axle ratio. I also like the way the roof slopes rearward (which *is* Range-Rover-like).

      The overall shape reminds me of the Durango, which *is* a compliment.

      If I were going to buy a similar vehicle to replace my Grand Cherokee, this would be a strong contender, in a nicer trim. But I’d prefer to axe that vertically-oriented LCD; it just looks bad.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Was this intended to be a review?

  • avatar
    Igloo

    Kinda like the look better with the LED fogs; fills more space, I guess. $11,500.00 jump from XLT to Limited, wow!

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I may be a simpleton, someone who is just not accepting of the ways that OEM’s like to upcharge for things that people want. Optioning a vehicle is such a game for the automakers. In their quest to drive profits, I believe they are turning customers away and making unnecessary enemies where they could be making sales. A lost opportunity.

    Instead of a base model with black plastic everything, deleting so many upgrades, why not make the entry model something people can live with, something that has most of the kit people cant live without or generally want and leave the other stuff for the more expensive trims.

    For instance. Why not make the base model have at least 18 inch rims and make the larger an optional accessory rather than as part of a $7000 trim package.

    Why not give the base model a moonroof, save the panoramic roof for the big ticket upcharge. Why not give every car that leaves your factory fog lights instead of those sorry looking black plastic inserts that scream “I was too cheap” or “there is definitely something missing from this picture”. Why make foglights part of expensive packages? Why?

    Why not offer some sort of leatherette on the base model for people who just cannot handle cloth. Like pretty much everyone with kids. I know you like the $3000 upcharge, but consumers can see your greed in the hold back.

    Make simple things like keyless entry, start….things like blind spot monitor, back up sensors, cross traffic alerts STANDARD!!! Customers will love it. These arent big expensive items, these are little things that you use to get people to shell out more money.

    We all know when were are being nickle and dimed. I love, love, love, cars that sell a trim with no options. Look at the CX-9. Hondas. You buy the trim, very few options available, if any.

    Make you money on the car Ford!….not the BS shell game of options.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Most of that stuff you listed as wanting standard I don’t even want at all so I don’t think there’s any silver bullet here for the manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Disagree completely.

      Buying a trim with no options means I just very likely paid for something I didn’t want to. The best part about buying a full size truck is you can spec it(almost) any way you want to with minimal packages and a lot of ala carte options. How is this a bad thing?

      Everything you ask for is available as an option, buy a midgrade or high level one that has them all standard and call it a base model if it makes you happier to do so. It sounds like what you are really complaining about is cars being too expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Yea, in ajla’s perfect world everything would be available a la carte and could be custom ordered. Honda-style trim levels drive me crazy.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          That is my perfect world too.

          On the other hand I work in an automotive-style manufacturing plant and it is a constant struggle to simplify and standardize our product offerings vs. the customers who want everything special and aren’t willing to pay any more for it. So I understand the impulse from automakers to do the same.

        • 0 avatar
          formula m

          Ya people are clueless and don’t know what they want or how expensive the features are.

          No they are not going to put dual front power seats in your base model because you have a bad back and are on disability with a limited budget.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yeah, I dont get it. “Why not make everything *I* (and perhaps only I) want standard and dont chanrge for it?” Lol

        And acting like it’s something negative that companies are seeking profits. That’s kinda their point of existence.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I went and built a 2020 on the “Build and Price” (its at the bottom of the page on the Ford “Build and Price” website.) For an XLT with 4×4 and trailer package it was just a bit over $40K – not too outrageous IMHO. The only thing that annoyed me was that captains chairs are standard in the 2nd row and you had to get a $4000 package to get a middle bench.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          There arent a lot of options that are “really” expensive when taking into consideration the overall cost of a new vehicle. Leather, huge panoramic roofs, huge rims, AWD, expensive stereos, to name a few. Most of the optional equipment is relatively inexpensive when standing alone. So, forgive me if I think “packages that cost $5-$7k are BS greedy profit driven “gotcha” tactics when all I want is gol darn fog lights.

          As someone else mentioned, the cost savings to manufacturers from having substantially fewer build options would pay for a lot of standard kit.

          The way options are done by most automakers are not consumer friendly. I am not really into base vehicles, so yeah, maybe I am a little biased but firmly believe its a profit driven OEM game with consumers on the losing end.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            ‘So, forgive me if I think “packages that cost $5-$7k are BS greedy profit driven “gotcha” tactics when all I want is gol darn fog lights.’

            -OK, but how does this square with your previous statement:

            ‘I love, love, love, cars that sell a trim with no options. Look at the CX-9. Hondas. You buy the trim, very few options available, if any.’

            This is the same thing, what you are calling a “trim” is basically the same thing you are calling a “package”. Honda, Mazda, etc. bundle everything together and you pay thousands more for it. Perhaps they just do a better job disguising that fact since they seem to be fooling you. I’d question which way is more consumer friendly though…

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “So, forgive me if I think “packages that cost $5-$7k are BS greedy profit driven “gotcha” tactics when all I want is gol darn fog lights.”

            Ford is the absolute worst with this kind of dishonest practice.

            For instance, in some configurations, a simple moon roof on a “new” Explorer costs almost $8,000

    • 0 avatar
      millerluke

      I read a book by Bob Lutz, Gm uses a formula to decide what are options and what are standard features. If about 70% of cars are sold with a feature they make it standard, and if less than 30% buy a feature they stop offering it. So all the options available as options are selected by between 30 and 70% of buyers. I would expect most manufacturers would do something very similar.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Well, that was the Japanese model when they entered the US market in the 1970s. Everything was optional on Detroit vehicles — radio, clock, even a heater that didn’t just recirculate cabin air. Japanese cars came with all that stuff standard and, by late 70s, AC was standard, too.

      But, as to your point, the first car that I owned that included a sun/moon roof as standard, my wife and I used it only until the novelty wore off. Then we didn’t. Fog/road lamps are nice; but the rest of the stuff you say you want I have no use for. True, cloth seating doesn’t stay as clean as vinyl; but it’s a lot cooler in the summer.

      My truck has forward collision alert, which beeps and flashes at you if it thinks you’re going to run into something (and disengages he cruise control if engaged). Given the number of times it falses as a result of “seeing” something to the side, I would not want it connected to the braking system.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Ford had great paint names back in the day. My Probe was Rio Red. My Fury was painted in Ford’s Midnight Canyon Red…those were nice deep colors. Today it is a sea of grey, beige, and white derivatives…bland

    • 0 avatar
      Igloo

      . . . because those are the colors most people choose: black, white and everything in the grey-scale palette. Oh and red. Sometimes blue. New or used, it doesn’t matter.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yeah. They build what sells. It’s no fun having a green car that sits on the lot for 180 days while grey and silver ones are gone in 1/4 the time. I’m not a fan of bland colors, but you cant blame them for doing what works with the public at large.

    • 0 avatar
      Tiberius1701

      My Favorite was the color of the 1984 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe I owned “Pastel Regatta Blue Metallic”. Lorain Assmebly Plant where these cars were built had a fantastic paint shop!

  • avatar
    RS

    Hopefully the new engine layout (front to rear) will make for better maintenance access.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Clear Crystal Blue Frost and Medium Canyon Red Clearcoat Metallic? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Post your favorites in the comments below.

    Highland Green and and Vintage Burgundy FTW! (Both classic Mustang colors BTW.)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Ginger Ale metallic looks great on my parent’s 2012 Taurus. I think it would look great on a vintage vehicle as well.

      I’m a fan if Ford’s Grabber Blue, so much so that it’s the color I’ve decided that the 1995 is going to be. It’s not terribly different from the faded Indigo Blue it is now, but it is more eye-catching.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Friend had a “lime yellow” Mustang II. Strange name for a color, but it kinda fit.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    Those sidewalls *do* look pretty thicc. Me likey.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    XLT has always been a decent Ford trim level that doesn’t scream “cheap” I’ve had several XLT Fords over the years and found them sufficient. Usually you just need to add the few options you want and aren’t stuck with a bunch of options you don’t want. It’s the XLS trim that’s really basic

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I noticed that on the configurator, the steering wheel has a silver Ford logo, instead of the traditional blue one. Have I not been paying attention, or is this a new thing Ford is doing?

    Either way, I like the traditional blue. If they were going to change the color, I think it would be interesting to see them experiment with not having the oval outline at all on the steering wheel, and just having the freeform script lettering, like they do with their advertising.

  • avatar
    ImAlwaysRight

    Good looking truck, and we know it will sell. No V6 is BS. My 2007 XLS has everything I need. AC, cruise, intermittent wipers front/rear, power windows, locks, remote start. Awesome never used roof rack. Added a decent Android radio and a backup cam. And no, it doesnt have wheel covers, mine has steelies with center caps. Never seen one with covers. Its just too bad its a RWD as the trac control is useless in snow/low traction conditions.

  • avatar
    millerluke

    I read a book by Bob Lutz, Gm uses a formula to decide what are options and what are standard features. If about 70% of cars are sold with a feature they make it standard, and if less than 30% buy a feature they stop offering it. So all the options available as options are selected by between 30 and 70% of buyers. I would expect most manufacturers would do something very similar.

  • avatar
    ColoradoFX4

    Light Prairie Tan Clearcoat Metallic.


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