2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid Interior Review


Interior: 6.9

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid's cabin is functional and has some nice materials, but it isn't as stylish or upscale as rival cabins. The cargo hold and the first two rows of seats are spacious, but the third row forces adults into an awkward position. The Explorer Hybrid comes with a lot of features, including plenty of active safety technology. Unfortunately, some of the infotainment and climate controls aren't as intuitive as what you'll find in rival SUVs.

  • "We found the first two rows to be more pleasant than before. Even in lower trim levels, the door panels and dashboard use mostly soft-touch materials and everything fits together well enough. The dashboard lacks design flair, but we're willing to give it a pass because it's so functional and easy to use." -- Car and Driver
  • "The main low point has to do with certain aspects of interior materials. While most of the bits close at hand are attractive soft-touch surfaces, some of it looks hard and cold. There's also a prominent joint between two completely different surfaces right in the middle that is hard to miss." -- Edmunds
  • "The rugged and blocky interior design feels like a vast improvement over the outgoing button-happy plastic party." -- Jalopnik


The Explorer Hybrid seats six and comes with leather upholstery, heated first- and second-row seats, second-row captain's chairs, and a heated steering wheel.

The front seats are spacious and comfortable, and the driver enjoys excellent visibility. The second-row seats are also roomy enough for adult passengers, though some critics say these seats could use more cushioning. The third row is easy to get in and out of, thanks to the second row's flip-forward ability. However, the rearmost row may be uncomfortable for adults. It's not as spacious as some competitors' third rows, and the low seat cushion forces occupants' knees up toward their chest.

For securing child safety seats, the Explorer Hybrid has four sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. There is one complete set in each of the outboard second-row seats and two sets in the third row.

  • "Both second-row seats have a good amount of forward/back travel, so legroom can be negotiated with third-row passengers and there's an easy release button on the top of the seats that tilts and slides forward for access to the third row. … Less thoughtful are the seats themselves, which are not that comfortable and need more supportive cushioning. … The third row has rather good headroom. In fact, there's great headroom all around even with the dual-pane panoramic moonroof it feels quite airy inside. I'm just under 6 feet tall and if you lined up three of me in each row of the Explorer, legroom would be tight but you could figure it out for shorter journeys; for longer trips, find a shorter person to mix in there." -- Cars.com
  • "Still, many of the Explorer's front-wheel-drive-based competitors are packaged better, and the Ford's third-row seat is especially disappointing. Although getting back there is easier than before thanks to a button that easily tumbles the second-row seats … the back row's bottom cushion is low and unsupportive. This problem, in which passengers' knees are forced into their chests, plagues many third-row seats, but rivals from Subaru, Volkswagen, and Chevrolet give occupants more space to uncurl from the fetal-tuck position." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Explorer's driver's seat offers a clear view of the road, and the nicely sculpted front seats have padding that strikes a good balance between plushness and support. There's space up here, too. The cabin feels airy, and legroom and headroom are generous." -- Edmunds

Interior Features

Standard features in the Explorer Hybrid include tri-zone automatic climate control, rear auxiliary climate control, Ford's MyKey, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, satellite radio, four USB ports, voice-activated navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, a surround-view parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, evasive steering assist, lane keep assist, lane centering, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, and driver drowsiness monitoring. Some of these features are included in Ford's Co-Pilot 360 package.

Available features include a twin-panel moonroof, wireless device charging, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

The touch screen and other center-stack controls are easy to reach from the driver's seat. However, some climate controls use awkward flip switches instead of traditional knobs. The SYNC 3 system works well, and the screen has crisp graphics. It's not as intuitive as some rival systems, though, and some functions are buried within multiple menus.

See 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid specs »

  • "Lower-line models get a standard 8-inch touchscreen and WiFi hotspot, with the Platinum and ST boasting 10.1-inch, vertically oriented screens. Both screens are mounted high, within easy reach, and controls include volume and tuning knobs. Favorite-station selections can include a mix of AM/FM/satellite stations, which isn't always the case. Less convenient are the climate controls. While easy enough to reach, temperature is adjusted through a flipper, mode and fan speed with repetitive-step pushbuttons, all being less convenient than traditional rotary knobs." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The dashboard layout is logical and uncluttered. It's also unobtrusive because it only projects toward the driver where necessary, such as to get the touchscreen, stereo knobs and climate controls within easy reach. An 8-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen is standard from base to Limited." -- Edmunds
  • "Lastly, SYNC gets a handsome snowy-white graphics redesign: no more colored blocks, or black-on-black. Yet, something feels lost in the clutter of white rectangles. It's still not the most intuitive system, not when changing fan vents requires a combination of physical buttons and nested menus. Changing or cancelling navigation requires chasing down more than a few buttons." -- Jalopnik


Behind the rearmost seats, the Explorer Hybrid gives you 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That expands to 47.9 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded and 87.8 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. These are good totals for a midsize SUV, and they're the same totals as in the nonhybrid Explorer.

The roomy cargo hold is also wide enough that you can haul sheets of plywood between the wheel wells, though they'll hang out the back of the vehicle a bit. You can lock the liftgate into position to keep stuff from falling out. A hands-free power liftgate and power-folding third-row seats come standard.

There's also a good amount of small-item storage space in the cabin.

  • "Cargo room is also quite good. Space is about average for the class, but there's a huge underfloor bin behind the third-row seat, with smaller side bins flanking it. Furthermore, the floor is 48.1 inches wide between the wheelwells, so 4x8 sheets of plywood can be laid flat; they'll stick out the back, but the liftgate will hold in any position to 'clamp' them in." -- Consumer Guide
  • "As for actual cargo, the space behind the third row falls midway between the Kia Telluride and the Honda Pilot. Those third-row seats fold down 50/50 via a power-folding mechanism, at which point the available space slightly exceeds those same rivals. Fold the middle seats down and the maximum space also maintains a slight edge." -- Edmunds
  • "Fold the seats down and you'll find nearly 88 cubic feet of cargo space and a big enough area to haul four-by-eight-foot sheets of plywood." -- CNET

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