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2020 Ford Explorer Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2020 Ford Explorer Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: XLT vs Limited, ST & Platinum

What 2020 Ford Explorer Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

With a market as saturated as that of the three-row SUV, vehicles struggle to make a name for themselves. The Ford Explorer, however, does not have this issue. It has been around for decades, and is starting its sixth generation in 2020. This competent SUV is known for being full of features as well as being highly capable.

Consumers have a total of four trim levels to consider. It is important to pick carefully because each step up the trim ladder will come with a significant price bump. Luckily, all trim levels are well-equipped. This includes the entry-level XLT, which has the option of 4WD and a long list of standard safety and tech equipment.

In the following guide, all four trim levels are detailed with special attention paid to the differences between the models. Reading it should better prepare consumers to make an informed decision when it comes to buying the 2020 Ford Explorer.

Price Tip
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Compare the 2020 Ford Explorer XLT vs Limited Trims. What is the difference?

The XLT trim level of the Ford Explorer comes standard with rear-wheel drive but can be upgraded to intelligent all-wheel-drive if desired. It is powered by a turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder engine that gives drivers 300-horsepower as well as 310 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Standard for the XLT are 18" wheels. Drivers have the option of upgrading to 20" polished aluminum ones instead. Trailer sway control is standard. Both hill descent control and a terrain management system are optional.

As for lighting, the XLT gives consumers standard LED low and high beams with an auto on and off feature. There is also a courtesy delay feature for the high beams. Also standard are LED signature lights and taillamps. Optional on this trim level are LED fog lights.

The side mirrors on this trim are powered and heated but manually folding. They come standard with LED turn signal indicators built-in. A power liftgate is standard, something rarely seen on an entry-level version of a vehicle. Drivers get roof rails as standard equipment and the option of upgrading to rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The front side mirrors are made from acoustic-laminate glass. For the second and third rows, there is privacy glass. The seats are cloth and the second row consists of two power-folding captain's chairs. Optional for this trim level is a second-row bench seat, which will take the seating capacity up to seven instead of six. In this case, the second row has a 40/20/40 split. The third row of seating has a 50/50 split-folding feature for added convenience. Drivers get eight-way power adjustment and lumbar support for their seat.

Tri-zone automatic climate control is standard on this trim. There are cargo hooks in the back to help secure gear. The Explorer comes standard with what Ford calls Intelligent Access. This essentially means drivers can unlock their vehicle and start it with the push of a button as long as the key fob is detected.

Moving onto the entertainment features, the XLT comes with an 8" touchscreen that runs FordPass Connect. Drivers can download an app to their smart device that allows them to schedule and pay for service, as well as keep up-to-date on key vehicle data. The infotainment system includes a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot and satellite radio. Also standard are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for easily connecting a compatible smartphone. Those who prefer Amazon's Alexa can use that as well. The stereo system for the XLT has six speakers. Drivers have the option of adding voice-activated navigation.

There are three 12V charging ports. Consumers will find one in the front row, one in the second row, and the last one in the cargo area. Passengers in the second-row can use the dual charging USB ports. Optional interior features for the XLT include a heated steering wheel and a twin panel moonroof.

Standard on the XLT and all trim levels is Ford's lane keeping system. This is a combination of driver alert, lane-keeping alert, and lane-keeping assist. A reverse sensing system, which beeps to alert drivers when they are getting near an obstacle when backing up, is also standard equipment. Finally, the XLT has a rear vision camera complete with a washing feature.

The Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced features is standard. In addition to the features listed above, this gives the Explorer a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. The Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ suite of features is optional, as is the towing package.

Available for the XLT trim level is what is called the 202A package. This will give the Explorer simulated leather seating as well as eight-way power adjustment including lumbar support for the front passenger. It also gives drivers remote engine start, the LED fog lights, and stylish silver accents on the bumpers.

Next on the list of options is the Limited trim. This trim level adds attractive dual-chrome exhaust tips and rides on 20" wheels. The grille has a bright silver finish. Drivers will appreciate that the power liftgate gets upgraded to include a foot-activation feature.

The previously optional LED fog lights become standard for the Limited. Other exterior upgrades include a power-folding feature for the side mirrors and security approach lights. Rain-sensing wipers are also added as a standard feature.

One of the most significant things about the Limited trim is the fact it is available as a hybrid. The 3.3L hybrid V6 engine will produce 318-horsepower overall. The 10-speed automatic transmission remains standard. Properly equipped Limited models with the hybrid powertrain can tow up to an impressive 5,000 pounds. Going with a rear-wheel drive model will give drivers an estimated range of 500 miles.

Inside, this trim gains an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The previously optional heated steering wheel becomes standard equipment and includes paddle shifters. Ambient lighting is added as well. The moonroof remains optional, but a universal garage door opener is added. This trim level, as well as the next two, gives consumers the option of adding wireless charging that is located in the center console.

For this trim, the second row captain's chairs are heated. They are also the only option, meaning the Limited has a maximum seating capacity of six. The seating material gets upgraded to leather. The voice-activated navigation system that was optional on the XLT becomes standard for the Limited. It also gets upgraded to a B&O Sound system that utilizes 12 speakers, twice what the XLT has.

Safety features are added to the Limited trim as well. The Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ includes all of the features on the XLT and adds a more advanced lane-keeping system as well as adaptive cruise control. A windshield wiper de-icer feature is also added.

There are plenty of extra features to be found on the Limited trim. That said, drivers need to be prepared to shell out over ten grand more than they would for the XLT. For many consumers, this is sure to be a difficult pill to swallow.

Compare the 2020 Ford Explorer Limited vs ST Trims.  What is the difference?

The ST model is the sporty, high-performing version of the 2020 Ford Explorer. Powering this trim is a turbocharged 3.0L V6 that will produce 400-horsepower in addition to 415 lb-ft of torque. This model comes standard with 4WD. It also adds the previously optional hill descent control and terrain management system as standard features. Additionally, the ST comes with a unique sport-tuned suspension.

While 20" wheels remain standard, the ST also has the option of 21" ones. There are now quad chrome exhaust tips. The side mirrors gain an ST projection lamp feature. For the LED taillamps, a unique "blackout" treatment can be found. This trim also gets an Explorer badge on the hood. The ST model is not available in Oxford White, which was an option on the previous trim levels.

The steering wheel is sport-style and keeps the paddle shifters found on the Limited. For the driver and front passenger, the seats get upgraded to specialized sport ones. The seats are made from an upgraded leather and include "City Silver" stitching. A 12.3" digital instrument cluster is found here. It is can be customized in both the way it looks and the way it functions.

Although the same 12-speaker audio system remains standard, this is the first trim to give consumers the option of upgrading to a 14-speaker B&O one instead. This is part of the Technology package, which also includes massaging front seats and a 10.1" touchscreen for the infotainment system.

Safety features see an upgrade. Added to the ST trim is an automated perpendicular and parallel parking feature. Automatic reverse emergency braking is also found here. Drivers also get the towing package as standard equipment for the first time. This allows the 2020 Explorer to tow up to 5,600 pounds.

With its more powerful engine and upgraded features, it is easy to see why drivers would be interested in the ST. Once again, however, the price increase in cringe-worthy. Consumers will need to be prepared to pay approximately 6,000 dollars more for the ST.

Compare the 2020 Ford Explorer ST vs Platinum. What is the difference?

When drivers reach the top of the trim ladder, they will find the Explorer Platinum. It loses the sports-tuned suspension but maintains the other mechanical upgrades found in the ST. It also has the same engine, although it only makes 365-horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque with it. Like the ST, the Platinum can only be had with 4WD.

Style-wise, the Platinum trim has many satin aluminum exterior accents. It loses the Explorer badge on the hood. Like the ST, it is not available in Oxford White and also loses Atlas Blue as an available exterior paint color.

There are illuminated scuff plates for the front row. Moving inside the cabin, drivers will find unique black carpeting with Platinum branding. This is the only trim level that comes standard with the power moonroof.

Seating surfaces are upgraded to a tri-diamond perforated leather and feature special accent stitching. Like the XLT, the Platinum trim gives drivers the option of replacing the second-row captain's chairs with the bench seat to increase the seating capacity. As for safety and tech, the Platinum is essentially the same as the ST. The Premium Technology package remains optional rather than standard here.

Ford gave the Platinum trim level all of the bells and whistles most drivers could ever want. Interestingly, there is also the smallest price jump here. Going with the Platinum over the ST will only cost drivers about 3,500 dollars more.

Buying Tip: To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals,   Edmunds,   CarsDirect,   NADAguides  &  Motortrend. These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.

Which Trim to Choose?

It would be relatively easy to make a case for all four trim levels of the 2020 Ford Explorer. The Limited adds many comfort and convenience touches not found in the XLT, the ST has the most power and performance-enhancing features, and the Platinum is fully-loaded. The biggest issue for most consumers will simply be the price.

Most drivers are going to want to stick to the XLT model. It has a long list of standard tech and safety features and a much more agreeable price tag. Plus, it can be had with the second-row bench seat, something useful for bigger families.

Sticking with the entry-level XLT trim of the 2020 Ford Explorer is a good call, both because of its standard features and available upgrades.

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Previous Ford Explorer Trim Configurations:

Compare the 2019 Ford Explorer Trim Levels
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