Inside Ford’s most powerful SUV: the Explorer ST

Here's a closer look at the 2020 Explorer ST interior and tech.

The new (and long overdue) Explorer with the ST treatment looks sharp and puts down impressive power. But does the interior step it up as well, especially compared to the other Explorer trims like XLT, Limited and Platinum?

Here’s a closer look. And for our full 2020 Explorer ST review including driving impressions, check out our first drive review here.

Visually, there’s nothing sleeper about the 2020 Explorer ST, flossing a healthy dose of blacked-out features from the black mesh grille insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside details, roof-rack side rails and skid plate elements to the massive machine-faced standard wheels available in the much more fitting black-gloss you see in these photos.

The front and rear facias are distinct and exterior trim gets contrasting ST badging in red along with black “EXPLORER” badging across the front edge of the hood; around the back, expect dual exhaust with quad tips for a sportier look.

Inside, the first thing you’ll see is the Ford Performance logo on the door sill. But everything else gets the ST seal of approval including the steering wheel, front seatbacks, floor mats, and key fob.

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Sure, it’s always a nice touch to slap logos everywhere but the first thing that jumps out about the unique ST front seats is how surprisingly comfortable and plush they are – we didn’t get that exact same feeling from the Explorer Platinum. Leather sport bucket seats with micro-perforation, City Silver accent stitching and ST logo complete the sporty feel.  

Driver front-and-centre is a beefy, feels-good-in-the-hands ST flat-bottom steering wheel paired to paddle shifters when it’s time to open it up on the open road.

Here are some of the more noteworthy standard interior features with the ST version:

  1. Floor mats with black carpet, silver stitching (front and second row)
  2. 12.3-inch screen in the instrument panel
  3. Third-row PowerFold/flat-folding seats
  4. Heated steering wheel with ST logo and paddle shifters
  5. Enhanced interior finishes including black headliner, overhead console, grab handles and visors; high-gloss black touches to the centre stack, door armrest carrier, and lower console rails

Co-Pilot360 comes as standard

Each ST-equipped Explorer gets Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of goods as standard. Mainly, safety features including a blind spot monitor, lane-keep assist system to ensure the SUV stays in its lane, a rearview camera with built-in lens washer, a pre-collision assist system with automatic emergency braking with Pedestrian Detection, to name most of them.

2020 Ford Explorer ST interior. Photo: Amee Reehal
2020 Ford Explorer ST interior. Photo: Amee Reehal

Optional is a more advance version of the system called Co-Pilot360 Assist+, essentially adding more nice-to-haves to the list. This includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane-centering, speed sign recognition which is a surprisingly helpful feature especially when driving on unfamiliar routes with fluctuating speed limits, voice-activated touch screen navigation with pinch-to-zoom capability, and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.

Other options Explorer ST customers can opt for include:

  • Active Park Assist 2.0
  • Reverse brake assist
  • 360-degree camera with front split-view
  • Intelligent adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition
  • Hill Descent Control™
  • Blind Spot Information System with trailer tow coverage (when equipped with trailer tow)
  • Rain-sensing wipers

Takeaway

Slotted between the less robust Explorer Limited / Limited Hybrid and the more luxe, range-topping Explorer Platinum, the sportier ST really stands alone within the lineup, from the interior to the power and exterior looks.

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Inside, it finds all those nice high-gloss black touches that set it apart, not to mention the red ST-logos throughout. As with the top Platinum, the Explorer ST finds leather seating surfaces, compared to leather-trimmed seats in the lower Base, XLT (2020 XLT reviewed here), and Limited offerings.

End of the day, this go-fast Explorer was long overdue considering the Edge ST has been available for some time now. And Ford did a good job giving this bolder SUV a distinct cabin look and feel, taking the best features from Platinum while staying true to the less glossy, more sporty ST roots.

Shopping for a 2021 or 2022 SUV? Here are the models worth checking out.

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Bringing the latest news including release dates, pricing announcements, product updates. With some glossy concepts and special edition rides in the mix.

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