If there's a vehicle that ushered in the widespread SUV era in America, it's arguably the Ford Explorer. It burst onto the scene nearly three decades ago and was a huge hit right off the bat. Ford has sold nearly 8 million of them over the years.
Since then, many competitive SUVs have come to market, so Ford's keeping pace with an all-new Explorer for 2020. There are several models to choose from, including a hybrid, which is a first for the Explorer.
If you want some sportiness to go with your practicality, new this time around is the Explorer ST, which takes advantage of the return to a rear-wheel drive platform. It packs big power from a relatively small engine; 400 horsepower from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 to be exact. The chassis and brakes are up to the performance task as well, thanks to a division of the company called Ford Performance.
Like a performance car, there are audible reminders that this one's special. A nice growl from the engine makes this SUV sound plenty sporty, though it could get old on a long trip or commute. The same suspension and short sidewall tires that help it handle well also transmit some bumps from imperfect roads. That's the price to drive the fastest Explorer ever.
Also making a return for 2020 is the Lincoln Aviator. While it's built on the same platform as the Explorer, it's really a whole different vehicle and keeps with Lincoln's new aviation theme.
Everything about the Aviator is different from the Ford Explorer, including the body, the interior and the suspension. There are only two interior parts shared between the Aviator and the Explorer, according to a Lincoln spokesman. One is a trim panel on the lower dash and the other is the hood release. That's it.
The Grand Touring version Aviator features plug-in hybrid power for nearly 500 horsepower, plus the ability to travel short distances on electric power alone. There are also plenty of cool luxury touches, like soothing warning chimes, courtesy of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Yes, orchestra musicians playing a violin, a viola and a marimba recorded the sounds that play instead of a regular beep.
The Aviator is already garnering waiting lists to get one, and dealers are seeing lots of trade-ins from other luxury brands.
As for the Explorer, it should be in demand too, given its new features and interesting variations, a demand that's been fairly strong since it first arrived in American showrooms nearly 30 years ago.
Ford rolls out new 2020 Ford Explorer ST reminiscent of performance cars