30 Minutes With: The 2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD

Front 3/4 view of 2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD
The 2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD.
Publisher's note: Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days. Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series features cars we spent half an hour driving during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Day in Monterey, California.

Needless to say, these are quick drives and brief impressions that we hope to be able to flesh out with a full review of the vehicle at some point in the near future.

Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley over Laureles Grade and back or off-road on the acclaimed Land Rover Experience on the grounds of Quail Lodge.

My second vehicle of the day was the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer ST.

Rear 3/4 view of 2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD
2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD.
The 2020 is immediately distinguishable from last year's model, looking significantly meaner and more athletic---especially in a dark color with black wheels.  But the Explorer ST is not all about looks.  

Engine in 2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD
2020 Ford Explorer ST 4WD engine.
Ford has worked some serious voodoo in the engine room, coaxing an impressive 400 horsepower out of a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission.  The zero to 60 time, according to Ford, is 5.5 seconds.

And Lord, the noise it makes when your foot hits the floor.  The 2020 Ford Explorer ST makes the most delightful growl that ramps up into a roar.  It wouldn't surprise me if that was one of the most-mentioned selling points as these begin to populate American driveways.

The base price is $54,740, and besides the engine, transmission, speed and sound, you get blackout head and taillamps, LED signature lighting, a hands-free liftgate, black lower bodyside cladding, power heated automatic-folding exterior mirrors with turn signals, memory, approach lamps underneath and they dim when lights approach from behind.

Also standard: Rear door privacy glass, a quad-tip dual exhaust system, black roof rack side rails, LED taillamps and fog lamps, trailer sway control, a windshield wiper de-icer, rain-sensing wipers, a 12-inch digital instrument panel cluster, second-row heated seats, ambient lighting and illuminated entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, carpeted floormats with the "ST" logo, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with the "ST" logo as well as cruise and audio controls, heated and ventilated front seats, a power-folding third-row seat, a power tilt-and-telescope steering column, a rotary gear-shift dial, four smart-charging USB ports, sport bucket front seats, and a tri-zone electronic temperature control system.

But wait!  There's more!  As in a 360-degree camera, active park assist, a Bang and Olufsen sound system, a Class III trailer towing package, Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist, a FordPass 4G wi-fi hotspot, wireless charging, remote start, reverse sensing system, side-wind stabilization, a sport-tuned suspension, SYNC3, terrain management system and voice-activated navigation.

Again, that plus 400 horsepower and the glorious bellow that accompanies it---standard---for $54,740.

Interior view of 2020 Ford Explorer
2020 Ford Explorer ST interior.
And the tester I drove did have a few extra-cost options:

  • Twin-panel moonroof: $1,695
  • Premium Technology package: $995.
  • ST Street Pack: $995.

With $1,095 destination and delivery, the bottom line came to $59,520---right in line as a logical next-step up from the 2019 Ford Edge ST we drove to Monterey for this event.

The interior?  That's gonna be a matter of taste, with a lot of people complaining about the touchscreen looking like someone glued an iPad to the dashboard.  Whatever.  Just fire it up, put your foot to the floor and listen to the sound this thing makes.