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2020 Ford Explorer Interior

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2020 Ford Explorer Interior Review


Interior: 6.8

The 2020 Ford Explorer has been fully redesigned. Inside, this three-row SUV holds only six people in most models, and it feels open and airy. The interior is well-constructed and comes with an appealing mix of quality materials, though the styling is bland for some. The Explorer comes standard with an impressive set of safety features and a nicely equipped infotainment system. Cargo space is above average for the midsize SUV class.

  • "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
  • "There are a still a few plastic panels that are a little too industrial-grade for their own good, but most of them stay out of sight and, more importantly, out of touch. The ergonomics are almost good enough to obscure the fact that cabin design is a little too utilitarian -- some Explorer models may seem a little too dull to the eye with a sea of black plastic -- but the cabin is still good where it counts, which is the ability to live in the SUV for hours at a time without joint aches or unsupportive seats." -- Autoweek
  • "Inside, the design is a real improvement over the last Explorer, and more visually interesting than a Honda Pilot or Subaru Ascent. However, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade have a more premium vibe, even in lower trims and especially when their upper trim levels are compared to the leather- and wood-lined Platinum. The Explorer's overall quality of plastics is acceptable, nothing more." -- Autoblog


The Explorer is a three-row SUV. It can carry seven people in its standard configuration, which includes a three-person bench seat in the second row and a two-person bench seat in the third row. Second-row captain's chairs are optional and reduce the seating capacity to six.

The front seats are spacious and comfortable and offer a good view of the road. The rear seats have a decent amount of legroom for a midsize SUV, and there's enough room in the third row for two adults. However, taller passengers may find the third row’s unsupportive cushions and low seats uncomfortable.

Standard seating elements include cloth upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat. Cabin upgrades include leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated second-row seats, power-folding third-row seats, and massaging front seats.

For securing child safety seats, there are two complete sets of LATCH connectors in the second row and two complete sets in the third row. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for its ease of use. The lower anchors are easy to find and use, but other hardware on the backs of the seats could be confused for the tether anchors.

  • "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
  • "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. … The biggest issue with the third row is the floor height. The Explorer moving to RWD seems to have raised the cabin floor so it only sits about 6 inches below the seat cushion, and when you sit back there, it feels like your knees are hovering in your chest." -- Cars.com
  • "Those who will be using the Explorer to transport a big chunk of a little league team will be pleased to hear that the rear seats are accessible by little league players and big league players alike, but the little league players will have a distinct advantage in ingress and egress. Third-row seats are a must these days, and the Explorer lands midpack when it comes to third-row accessibility, which I realize for some will be a daily event. The Volkswagen Atlas allows third-row passengers to pull off this stunt far more easily, I should note, but there's only so much third-row accessibility that can be built into something with four doors that isn't a minivan." -- Autoweek

Interior Features

The Explorer’s standard SYNC 3 interface and 8-inch touch screen are so easy to learn and use that even second-graders could master it. However, the upgraded system doesn't earn as much praise from professional reviewers. Its 10.1-inch vertical touch screen doesn't improve usability as much as it could. The base system also comes with a handy smartphone cubby underneath the display, which goes away if you upgrade to the larger touch screen.

Standard features in the Explorer include an 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two front-row USB ports (including one USB-C), satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, tri-zone automatic climate control, and remote start.

Optional features include a 10.1-inch touch screen with a portrait layout, a 12.3-inch customizable driver display, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a household-style power outlet, wireless device charging, a dual-headrest rear-seat entertainment system, proximity keyless entry, two second-row USB ports, and a twin-panel moonroof.

Standard safety features include the Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced systems. It contains blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, a rearview camera with a lens washer, automatic high-beam headlights, post-collision braking, and a pre-collision system with forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Ford MyKey is also standard. This system encourages safe driving, letting you do things like set limits on speed and audio volume for secondary drivers, and it includes additional seat belt reminders.

Adaptive cruise control with lane-centering and stop-and-go capability is available. Available safety features include speed sign recognition, evasive steering assist, active perpendicular and parallel park assist, reverse brake assist, a 360-degree parking camera, a blind spot information system for towing, and rain-sensitive windshield wipers.

See 2020 Ford Explorer specs »

  • "For infotainment, the standard 8-inch touchscreen is easy to see and reach, and benefits from Ford's generally user-friendly Sync 3 user interface. We also liked the extra smartphone-holding bin beneath it. That disappears with the 10.1-inch vertically oriented touchscreen … which doesn't improve functionality as you might expect. We could dig into more in-depth gripes, specifically in relation to Apple CarPlay integration as well as the information it shows when in split display mode, but suffice it to say, there is room for improvement." -- Autoblog
  • "The taller screen is rather skinny, so it makes the integration look small and is actually hard to use – some of the icons were too small to easily hit. Compounding this is that when you activate either system, a large bar titled 'Android Auto [or Apple CarPlay] Settings' annoyingly takes up about an inch of the screen's real estate. I preferred the standard screen that ends up displaying a larger Android Auto and Apple CarPlay display than when these are used on the larger screen." -- Cars.com
  • "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. The Platinum and the ST get an optional 10.1-inch portrait-oriented screen. We tried both and frankly prefer the standard screen. A longer drive might change our minds about the bigger offering, but all we could think about was how it robbed us of a clever storage shelf." -- Edmunds


The Explorer has 18.2 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seat, 47.9 cubic feet behind the second row, and up to 87.8 cubic feet with all rear seats folded. These totals are above average for a midsize SUV. A power liftgate is standard. Options include a hands-free liftgate and a cargo management system that adds under-floor storage and a reversible cargo floor.

  • "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. A power liftgate is newly standard, and higher-line models also offer power-folding third-row seats." -- 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
  • "Cargo volume shrinks slightly in the 2020 Explorer, although the load floor now measures 48.1 inches in width between the wheelwells – its narrowest point – meaning that 4'x8' building materials can lay flat (albeit sticking out the back by about a foot). The cargo floor is reversible, with carpet on one side and vinyl on the other." -- Kelley Blue Book
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2020 Ford Explorer

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