What does a wanderlust driven and forever restless person like me do with a brand new 2020 Ford Explorer? Take an epic adventure through Oregon and down the coast of California, duh!
There is no better way to get to know a car than a solo drive through the national forests of Oregon and down the winding roads of Highway 1. As soon as I got into this new Ford Explorer I knew it was the start of a beautiful friendship. But like any friendship, getting to know each other can have its ups and downs.
It all started at the Skamania Resort in Stevenson, Washington, where I became acquainted with the new 2020 Ford Explorer. At first impression, I was drawn to the sporty blue metallic exterior and the big 21-inch wheels with front and rear red-painted performance brake calipers. Despite the impressive exterior, I was eager to jump inside the vehicle to test out how it takes on a dynamic drive through the mountains, and also how it gets down and dirty on an off-road course.
I had one day at Skamania Resort to get familiar with each of the new Explorer models: the Hybrid, ST, and Platinum. So, I jumped into a golf cart and found myself behind the resort’s golf course at a man-made off-roading track that the Ford engineering team built. The track had steep downhill and uphill transitions, side tilts, mud, water ditches, and of course, rocky roads. I took the Hybrid for a ride around the track a couple of times and it was quite a drive — the vehicle’s power was deceptive, and its capability of climbing steep hills and driving up a side bank made me forget I was driving a hybrid. Intrigued, I thought to myself, “This would be great to take on the rough terrain in the Oregon forests.”
Next up to bat, the Explorer ST with a dynamic drive into the Washington mountains. I put that bitch in sport mode and took off into the meandering mountain roads while bumping Travis Scott’s ‘Sicko Mode’, which made for an exhilarating ride. With a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission, standard four-wheel drive and traction control option, the ST is said to project 400 horsepower and 415 lb.ft. of torque, while reaching a top track speed of 143 mph.
My last drive of the day was experiencing the Explorer ST’s towing capacity. Standard with this model is the Class III Trailer Tow Package with a towing capacity of up to 5,300 pounds. As a result of harnessing this powerful feature, I was able to tow a 3,000-pound trailer and a 4,500-pound boat down to the dock and camping grounds — with no previous experience. I did it with such ease that you’d think it was my 9-5 job. Now, it’s secretly on my resume in fine print: Professional Trailer Tower.
After sussing out all my new friends, I gravitated towards the all-wheel-drive Explorer ST for my epic road trip adventure through Oregon and down Highway 1. I set out the next day in the Atlas Blue Explorer ST and instantly connected my iPhone to the Apple CarPlay that comes standard with this model to ensure my favorite jams were on rotation for this solo trip. Ford teamed up with Bang & Olufsen to create a surround sound experience in every new model of the Ford Explorer, strategically placing fourteen speakers for maximum listening pleasure. All this translated into concert-like audio on my drive through the Oregon forest, easily making this sound system my favorite luxury of the new Ford Explorer ST.
Another great feature of the Explorer is its ability to recognize speed limit signs on the side of the road. This was a feature that I was not accustomed to having especially when speed limits drastically changed throughout Oregon. And if you do not pay attention you for sure will see those red and blue flashing lights appear in your rearview mirror. I can’t count how many times the intelligent speed sign recognition saved me from driving into a hefty speeding ticket. And for that my wallet thanks you.
As I continued my journey down Highway 1 I made a few stops along the way in Monterey, Morro Bay and finally landed at Big Sur to enjoy the sunset. I was told many times that taking the coastal route of the famous Highway 1 in California is a must, especially during sunset. I lost track of time having a moment of reflection and being hypnotized by the sun’s warm embrace that my drive to the campgrounds was in complete darkness. As I was driving, I quickly noticed the Explorer’s high beam lights would automatically turn on when oncoming traffic was not insight and turn off when there was oncoming traffic or a car driving in front of me. This feature surprisingly made my drive less stressful it made me focus on the road ahead of me by adding more light visibility in the dark when I didn’t think I needed it.
Among all the great features the Explorer ST has to offer, there was one thing that irked me and I just could not get used to. The radio-like dial for the gear shifter threw me into a loop. Reaching for the invisible gear shifter every time knowing damn well that it was not there was irritating. As I turn the knob to put the car in reverse, then turn the knob into drive only to find myself in park every single time. It’s a feature that I definitely need more time to get used to. I was not a fan.
Like they say all good things come to an end and my journey back in Southern California was bittersweet. I saw places that I thought only existed in photos, sunset rides down the coast, car karaoke concerts while playing air instruments, and of course gaining new memories. Overall, I truly enjoyed spending time getting to know the Ford Explorer ST and I wouldn’t mind doing another epic road trip. Thanks Ford!