While Ford is promising fuel economy improvements to the 2020 Explorer with the standard 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder and new 10-speed automatic transmission over the previous model, those in search of max efficiency will likely want to check out the new hybrid model. The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid made its world debut at the Detroit Auto Show.
The first Explorer Hybrid is just one part of the new sixth-generation model that will also include a performance-focused ST model. In the hybrid, the drivetrain combines a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V6, traditional torque converter 10-speed automatic transmission and electric motor with a 1.5-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack. Total output punches in at 318 horsepower and 336 pound-feet of torque with a top speed of 123 mph.
Fuel economy figures aren't yet available, but will surely be measured against the 30 mpg city and 28 mpg highway EPA estimates of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The Japanese automaker's hybrid crossover comes only with a continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive. The Explorer, on the other hand, is standard with rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is available as an option.
The Explorer Hybrid will be capable of pure electric motoring of speeds up to 30 mph for two miles on a fully charged battery, with an expected EPA-estimated total range of more than 500 miles for rear-wheel models. Ford says the hybrids will not suffer from any off-road limitations compared to its pure gas counterpart, and is only slightly slower than the 2.3-liter turbo model to 60 mph.
Tow capacity does take a small hit, however. Properly equipped gas Explorer models with the 2.3-liter engine pull up to 5,300 pounds, while the hybrid is rated at 5,000, which to its credit still betters the Highlander Hybrid by 1,800 pounds.
Inside, the hybrid doesn't suffer from any space penalties thanks to the liquid-cooled battery pack being built into the chassis below the second-row seats. Cargo space mirrors the normal model with 18.2 cubic feet of room behind the third row and grows to 87.8 with both rows of rear seats folded.
Available as a Limited Hybrid trim, it'll come with leather seats, navigation, a 14-speaker B&O premium audio setup and wireless charge pad. Standard safety tech will include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, evasive steering assist and speed sign recognition.
The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid arrives in dealers this summer along with the rest of the new Explorer lineup and likely will carry a price premium over the regular gas version that begins $33,860. Exactly how much remains to be seen. For reference, the Highlander Hybrid starts at about $37,000.