© 2020 Postmedia Network Inc. All rights reserved. Just look inside this thing. The good news, it’s large, but it looks awkward, and everyone who rode in the car wanted to grab it and put it in their lap. They’re priced as if they were all-around more-premium products than they are. STEVENSON, Washington – Surely there can be nothing goofier than the idea of a two-tonne, three-row SUV that thinks it’s supposed to be a sports car. After just a few years on the market, it became one of the top 10 best-selling vehicles of the year. The top-line Platinum – one trim level above the ST – uses a 3.0L EcoBoost V6 that turns out 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Compared with the Platinum, the ST rides on stiffer springs (10 percent more so in front and 8 percent in the rear), retuned dampers, and fatter anti-roll bars. Despite my “Yulong White” test vehicle’s $64,000 price tag, those systems worked about half of the time. That said, though, if we’re intended to drive the ST like this, it needs better sports seats. Gears are selected through a first-for-Explorer dial shifter, and with paddle shifters for the sequential manual mode. Oh, and everything worked on the Mercedes in contrast with the Rover. That's why the automaker's decision-makers repatriated the ST badge on the Ford Edge last year and, more recently, on the Explorer ST 2020. Brakes provide strong and confident stopping power without being too harsh or grabby. Front seats are heated, cooled and powered. The era of Ford cars in North America is over - with the exception of the Mustang, of course. However, you have to take the time to choose your drive mode, as the Explorer ST offers no less than seven modes, from Eco to Sport to Off-Road. The other adrenalin-packed vehicle in the Ford lineup is the F-150 Raptor, but that mastodon is aimed at a very specific audience. Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Explorer. The base, XLT and Limited models are the value-priced models. Seven drive modes include Normal, Sport, Eco, Trail, Deep Snow and Sand, Slippery, and Tow/Haul. The extra weight and height that come with a package like this are the enemies of performance, ostensibly the ST’s primary mission. Opt instead for the $1595 High Performance pack and you get the same upgrades plus more aggressive brake pads. The short answer is that the Explorer ST easily outperforms the other sport crossover. Oh, and yes there are mud and snow settings too. Coming off an underwhelming performance from a Range Rover Evoque, the new Mercedes-Benz GLC was an absolute dream to drive. Cargo space is ample, roughly halfway between the capacity of a Mazda CX-9 on the small end and that of a Chevrolet Traverse on the big. The handling is firm and sporty in all modes and the large 4,700-pound utility vehicle barely exhibits body lean in tight turns. But look around now: The market is chockablock with high-powered, hunkered-down SUVs. The first Explorer rolled off the line in 1990, and it has been both a truck-based body-on-frame SUV and a car-based front-drive crossover over its history. The Platinum uses a 365-hp version of this engine, while XLT Explorers make do with a 300-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four. I even heard of one writer having both of the giant 10-inch info screens fail to work in a test vehicle. Ford moves its new Explorer to a rear-drive platform, then hot-rods it with a potent V-6 and all-wheel drive. In back there is the perfect juxtaposition: quad exhaust outlets and an exposed trailer hitch with easily accessible wiring. The new interior, though still a composition entirely in black in this example, is a pleasant place to spend some time. While the trunk space loses a little volume when the third-row seats are in place in comparison with the previous model, the number of litres available in the trunk is more generous when those seats are folded down. An imposing vehicle like the Explorer ST shouldn't (in theory) be so quick to hit 0-100 km/h! Another dial runs you through the drive modes, including for off-road and slippery surfaces, but it’s the Sport setting that you want. But it is, and you have to be careful lest you exceed posted speed limits. But all 2020 Explorers benefit from an entirely new platform, which manages the nice trick of growing only an inch longer while riding on a wheelbase that expands by more than six inches. Compare that with trucks like Toyota’s Highlander and Lincoln’s new Aviator. As I said, the ST jumps away from stoplights sort of like a Mustang or other muscle car with a V8 or turbo-V6. Using the paddles in drive, it will time out and revert back to drive in five seconds. The Ford Performance folks took that engine, and pumped it up to 400 horses and 415 lb-ft for the ST. As with the other Explorer models, it uses a ten-speed automatic transmission, and comes only with all-wheel drive. It’s the handling that really makes this work. It further tightens the steering, quickens the throttle response, and adjusts the shift patterns, all of which heighten the fun factor. Limited models use either the four-cylinder or a 318-hp hybrid based on a 3.3-liter V-6. Most three-row SUVs take at least an additional 10 feet to get that done. I know, it’s too early, but it snowed. —Joey Capparella, staff editor, All expensive Fords—Lincolns included—have the same problem: They simply cost too much. AWD adds $2,000 to the price. Both are all-wheel drive. © 2020 MotorTrend | MOTOR TREND GROUP, LLC. To begin with, the Explorer ST gets a slightly more aggressive front end in comparison the other variants in the lineup. Such a piece wouldn't be off-putting in an XLT, which starts at less than $40,000. I was lucky to only have to deal with heavy rains during my week-long test drive and traction with the ST’s 21-inch tires was no problem. That's in part because this Explorer has its engine mounted longitudinally instead of transversely. Built in Chicago, the new Explorer arrives in dealerships this month. Editor's note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace. It handles and it’s quick. Power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power collapsing rear seats, power hatch, and full array of safety devices. This sixth-generation vehicle not only shifts to the new rear-drive architecture but also expands the lineup. The racier profile and short overhangs help erase the boxy look of the predecessor. That's nice for brightening the interior, but it eats up more than two inches of precious headroom for second-row passengers, making it barely tolerable for adults to sit there. But is it a better SUV than the one it replaced, especially now since it has been pushed upmarket along with its price point and it may face rivals that bear a premium badge? Front-seat massage, a 10.1-inch center screen, and a 14-speaker audio system added $995. If you want to park old school, the Explorer has a crisp camera view in front of and behind the vehicle, as well as a bird's-eye view. You can do that, but note that the Explorer maxes out at 5,600 pounds of tow capacity. The 2020 Ford Explorer ST AWD has a well laid out interior with comfy contoured leather power seats and heated/cooled seats. Meanwhile, the tested ST starts at a hefty $55,835, including delivery. With 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque under the right foot, the turbocharged V6 of the three-row crossover is one of the most energetic in its class, surpassed only by the Dodge Durango SRT, which boasts a 6.4L HEMI V8 good for 475 hp. On our tester, the optional $1,500 ST City package replaced the original rims with 21-inch black wheels. If you love having toasty toes while driving or riding in a car, this may not be the car for you. The steering action is heavy through the thick-rimmed wheel, but it feels artificially so. The 2020 Ford Explorer ST AWD is a rocket of an SUV with good handling. The 2020 Ford Explorer ST AWD is a rocket of an SUV with good handling. If there’s a more awkward design for the screen, I can’t imagine what it would be; the best way to describe it is that someone took an iPad and glued the bottom of it to the dash. But it's a little harder to swallow on our test vehicle, which carried an MSRP of $62,020. At the time, the Typhoon and its pickup brother, the Syclone, were bizarre, out-of-the-blue-sky anomalies. Michelin Primacy 20-inch all-season tires are standard. The 2020 Ford Explorer obtained a weak score in the small-overlap crash test performed by the IIHS and misses out on the agency’s Top Safety Pick rating. The vehicle has not changed much in overall dimensions, but the wheelbase grew by 6.3 inches, which makes the cabin more spacious. The 2020 Ford Explorer ST pictured here can get to 60 mph in a scant 5.2 seconds, which is only a tenth of a second quicker than a 1991 GMC Typhoon could. And more important, it feels substantially quicker on the road. Most of us would call that AWD, but it is highly adjustable with seven drive modes from Eco to Sport, which drastically firms up the steering and allows its 10-speed automatic to perk up acceleration to racetrack levels. I must also mention the comfort of the seats in the first two rows at least. Also, redirecting the heat solely to the foot wells helped once the fan speed was increased. when both rear rows of seats are lowered. And the ST circled our 300-foot skidpad with 0.86 g of lateral grip. To begin with, the Explorer ST gets a slightly more aggressive front end in comparison the other variants in the lineup. It’s also not the Explorer most families will buy. 2020 Ford Explorer ST has 400 HP, wants to be taken seriously as a performance SUV. Or, if it’s slippery, it can power all four wheels with its fancy Terrain Management System. The other addition is the first Explorer Hybrid with a 318-hp, 336-lb-ft, 3.3-liter V-6 mated to a 10-speed modular hybrid transmission. It's still a plump 4853 pounds, but we're trying to be encouraging here. The only thing that comes to mind is that perhaps Ford figures most buyers will still treat it as an everyday vehicle and might not realize they have to switch over come winter. This silver ST is the first new Explorer that we've had the chance to take to the test track. For a vehicle at this price, that's disappointing. Well, this is the very first video out on the hottest version of the new Explorer ST (or any version of it for that matter) and it suggests the Explorer definitely has improved in virtually all areas. The Explorer ST, a utility model?It would have been very surprising if this sportiest version of the Explorer had lost its utilitarian aspect. Thirty years after its launch, the 2020 model gets a full remake with a new rear-wheel-drive platform that is still truck-like, but is said to further refine the ride and handling of the Explorer. The three-row, midsized Ford Explorer SUV is redesigned for 2020. We have no quibbles with either, and there was no appreciable additional road noise with the larger tires. Its high beltline made us feel as though we were sitting in a giant soaker tub constructed of cheap black plastic panels. The original Park Assist system enabled the vehicle to steer itself, though the driver had to shift, brake, and work the throttle. Personally, I preferred the Normal mode, which is well-balanced for comfortable everyday driving.