Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford kicked off the reveal of the all-new Ford Explorer by recounting how his great grandfathers, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone and their group of friends, Thomas Edison included, would take to the road on camping trips in the summer. This road crew became known as the “Vagabonds” and according to Mr. Ford they embodied the spirit of exploration that from the very beginning has been at the core of Ford Motor Company.

By Chris Merlo

Dial forward a hundred-plus years and Ford is introducing the sixth-generation of America’s best-selling SUV with nearly 8 million sold since the nameplate was first introduced in 1990.

The time is right for a total revamp of the nameplate – last updated in 2011 – as sales of the current model have waned. The upgrade begins with a new rear-wheel-drive, unibody platform – a migration away from the current model’s front-wheel-drive (crossover-based platform). This is one of five global platforms in the Ford lineup.

Ford debuts an all new 2020 Explorer. Above: The Platinum edition.

Switching to a rear-wheel-drive configuration elevates the Explorer to a different league – we’re talking premium segment such as Land Rover. It also gives the Explorer passengers more “room to move” both literally and figuratively. The interior cabin with three-row seating is roomier while accommodating more cargo space. A wider cargo space will now fit a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood.

With passengers comfortably seated – and this is a utility built for the family – there are a number of amenities to engage and occupy the occupants: embedded modem for real-time vehicle updates, rolling Wi-Fi hotspot with connectivity for 10 devices, voice-activate Ford SYNC with Amazon Alexa, active noise cancelling technology and premium sound complements of Bang & Olufsen.

With its increased connectivity comes an emphasis on driver command and control. There’s a new, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster along with dash-mounted 10.1-inch touchscreen.

Naturally, keeping the family safe on the road means including Ford’s standard co-pilot 360 technology as standard that includes pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, lane centering feature, intelligent adaptive cruise control and more.

And for that road trip, Explorer trailer towing capacity has been increased to 5600 pounds. Power is delivered by a 3.0 or 2.3L powertrains along with a 10-speed automatic with electronic selector. Higher trim levels, such as the Platinum, will offer all-wheel-drive capability including a 7-mode, terrain management system.

Ford claims that the base price of the new, more fuel-efficient, lighter and more capable Explorer will be just hundreds above the current model. Coming to Ford showrooms this summer.