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2020 Ford Explorer ST debuts with 400 horses at Detroit Auto Show

A turbo V6 engine and handling upgrades make the Explorer ST a big performer.

Ford

A year ago Ford revealed the Edge ST, which was the first Blue Oval SUV to receive the ST performance badge. And now a year later it's being joined by the 2020 Ford Explorer ST that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show.

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The ST replaces the Explorer Sport in the new sixth-generation lineup gaining a punchier engine, tighter chassis tuning and exclusive styling. A specially tuned version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine found in the Platinum model powers the ST delivering 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. That's up from the 365 horses and 380 pound-feet in the Platinum. The engine bolts to a quicker-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters that routes power to all four wheels.

To get the most out of the hot rod Explorer, a Sport mode can be engaged for more aggressive throttle mapping, an altered gearbox shift schedule that will hold onto gears longer, a weightier steering feel and louder engine note.

The Explorer ST will hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.

Ford

With a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds, the Explorer ST is quicker than the Range Rover Sport equipped with a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that does it in 6.8 seconds. Top speed is estimated at 143 mph making it the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000, according to Ford.

For improved handling, the 4,701-pound ST receives unique shocks, springs and 21-inch wheels wrapped with Pirelli tires. And to up braking muscle, a big-brake package is available with unique booster calibration and larger brake pads.

Visually setting the ST apart from the rest of the Explorer range is a unique front grille with mesh insert, gloss black accents, dual quad exhaust tips and red-painted brake calipers. Inside, there's a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, flat-bottom steering wheel with ST logo, silver accent stitching and Ford Performance scuff plates.

As with all Explorer models, the ST will come standard with a healthy list of safety technology that includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and auto headlights with auto high beams. 

The 2020 Ford Explorer ST will hit showrooms this summer along with the rest of the new lineup that also features a hybrid model. Pricing isn't available yet, but an increase over the 2019 Explorer Sport's $46,625 starting price tag wouldn't be shocking given the ST's healthy performance gains.