The redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer, America's best-selling SUV in history, made its public debut Wednesday evening at a huge company celebration in Detroit.
Consumers will see the popular vehicle in showrooms later this year. It is the Explorer's first complete redesign since the 2011 model year.
Ford engineers described it as lighter, leaner and stronger -- but, most importantly, designed with the consumer at the center.
"We reinvented the Explorer from the ground up," said Bill Gubing, global chief engineer of the Ford Explorer program. "Over the last eight years, our team has been together, living this customer, breathing this customer -- studying, learning, understanding this customer."
He added, "We went to observe them in the wild" to get candid, unscripted feedback.
Engineers and designers observed every major and minor detail, adding storage space to the interior, "a landing pad for the foot" just inside the rear doors to stand and load things onto the roof. It has square cup holders for juice boxes "so the Cheerios won't stick," said Gubing, himself a father of young kids.
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When Ford employees participated in a day to bring children to work, youngsters were set loose in the Explorer for observation, and engineers watched the children climb the center console and realized that a component not usually designed to handle weight needed reinforcement.
The company touted the fact that the vehicle has a reversible cargo floor in the rear, with rubber covering one side for easy cleaning after a muddy soccer practice.
Identifying "pain points" and eliminating them was crucial, the team said.
"The second row has more head and hip room. Space for the occupants seems to matter most," Gubing said. "And this is the fastest Explorer we've ever designed and built."