Ford's 2020 Explorer Hybrid adds range without losing storage capacity

Doris Richards
January 14, 2019

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.

Explorer ST also comes standard with a Class III Trailer Tow Package with Cargo Management System and Active Park Assist 2.0, Ford's new driver-assist parking system that takes control of the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake pedal and gear shifter during parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers with a simple touch of a button.

While Ford already revealed its redesigned Explorer SUV, today at the Detroit Auto Show we're learning more about the new Hybrid version.

Prices will be announced later this year, but the standard Explorer starts at $33,860. Selecting Sport mode alters the shift mapping and throttle response for maximum acceleration right up to the ST's claimed 143-mph top speed. Both feature 21-inch wheels, while the latter adds upgraded brakes with red calipers and larger rotors. A flat-bottomed heated steering wheel embossed with an ST logo, as well as unique floor mats, are subtle ST-exclusive cues.

"We designed it to be an ST from the beginning", stated Ford Performance chief functional engineer, Ed Krenz.

Inside, a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is standard. Ford claims that this year it's introducing a whole slew of hybrid vehicles that combine performance and extended range via their efficiency, and this one is just the first.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the new Explorer Hybrid pairs a 3.3-liter engine with a 1o-speed modular hybrid transmission.

Ford claims the Explorer Sport has a top speed of 143 miles per hour, is faster than the Range Rover Sport with its supercharged V-6 engine, and is the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000.

For a sportier look, Ford gave the ST a black mesh grille, blacked-out trim, ST puddle lamps, quad exhaust tips, interior accent stitching, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Ford has previously anticipated that the Explorer Hybrid would return 24 mpg, EPA combined, although its final ratings might land somewhat higher than that.

The small lithium-ion battery pack is mounted under the rear passenger seat in the second row, which means none of the Explorer's 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space is lost by opting for the most-efficient Explorer.

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