Night Moves: Ford Unveils 2020 Explorer Under Cover of Darkness

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As you learned here, the 2020 Ford Explorer adopts the rear-drive platform found beneath the upcoming Lincoln Aviator, as well as the luxury division’s top-flight engine. A twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 of unspecified power will appear under its hood and mate to a 10-speed automatic, a source tells us, while the 3.3-liter V6 found in the F-150 replaces the current 3.5-liter unit. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder carries on unchanged for thrifty buyers.

Oh, and there’ll be a hybrid version, too. Ford’s only willing to talk about the electrified Explorer at this point, and on Tuesday it made the unusual choice of debuting the 2020 Explorer in fuel-sipping felon catcher guise.

Enter the Police Interceptor Utility hybrid.

As you can see here (or can’t, as the case would be), the creases and curves of the 2020 Explorer aren’t exactly bathed in bright sunlight. Ford’s going the striptease route for this reveal. Naturally, we lightened the provided photos for your benefit, though the difference isn’t exactly, ahem, night and day.

Image: Ford

Regardless, the new Explorer’s shortened front overhang and trimmer, more angular proportions aren’t entirely hidden from view. Like with the Aviator, Ford’s CD6 platform allows for a more upscale, almost Range Rover-esque profile.

And what of Ford’s first front-line cop SUV hybrid? Plenty of expectations, but few specifics. The automaker won’t even describe the engine, nor the output or battery capacity. Instead, the Blue Oval boys want to discuss the police department’s budget.

Having these things in a law enforcement fleet stands to save the operator $3,200 per vehicle in annual fuel costs, the automaker estimates, thanks to the model’s projected combined fuel economy of “at least” 24 mpg. That’s a 40 percent improvement from a contemporary Police Interceptor Utility equipped with a 3.7-liter V6, Ford claims.

To put that fuel economy figure into context, the thriftiest Explorer currently in Ford’s stable is the front-drive 2.3-liter civilian model, which returns 22 mpg combined. Adding all-wheel drive — standard on cop variants — drops that figure to 21 mpg.

Image: Ford

Further fuel savings come from the hybrid’s ability to power all accessories via its lithium-ion battery when the vehicle isn’t in motion, like during a stakeout or while sitting at a speed trap. Ford made a similar claim last year when it debuted a “pursuit-rated” Fusion hybrid. Given the automaker’s decision to chop all sedans from its portfolio (the Fusion Hybrid and Energi might last the longest of them all), having a hybrid cop SUV is essential for preserving the brand’s green street cred.

Ford says the Police Interceptor Utility hybrid, when equipped with a Class III tow package, should be able to haul around up to 5,000 pounds.

That’s the entirety of what we know about this vehicle’s specs, though Ford’s making one new feature available to law enforcement buyers. The Police Perimeter Alert system places the blind-spot monitoring system on sentry duty, scanning 270 degrees of the vehicle’s perimeter to pinpoint potential threats. Motion of surrounding objects is analyzed to determine a threat level, with the  activity displayed via the vehicle’s instrument cluster.

“When suspicious behavior is detected, the vehicle automatically sounds a chime, rolls up the windows and locks the doors,” Ford claims.

The 2020 Explorer, in both cop and civilian guise, rolls out next summer.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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