2020 Ford Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid: Two Ways To Haul

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

At the North American International Auto Show Monday, Ford today revealed a pair of extensions to the venerable Explorer line, bolstering the standard trim revealed last week. As expected, the new midsize SUV will be offered in a hybrid version, as well as a high-performance ST flavor.

The Ford Explorer ST follows the Edge down the ST path, adding power and track-inspired handling to an otherwise sedate utility. Under hood, a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 produces 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. A standard 10-speed automatic and all-wheel drive puts the power down via standard 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Ford’s media release notes “a top speed target for track drivers stands at 143 mph.” Whether any track will allow an SUV on the tarmac is another story.

Interior highlights include a flat-bottom steering wheel, ST logos galore, and micro-perforated leather sport seats.

For drivers who want even more ST on their ST, both an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack are available. These packages add 21-inch wheels and larger performance brakes with red-painted brake calipers. As we all know, red brake calipers mean “fast.”

For green drivers who prefer dragging a boat to hauling ass, the Ford Explorer Hybrid is ready to satisfy their higher-MPG desires. In this setup, a 3.3-liter naturally-aspirated V6 mates with a hybrid system to produce 318 total system horsepower. 500 miles of total range is estimated on this rear-drive hybrid.

The battery — including the liquid cooling system — is built into the chassis below the second-row seat, thus eliminating any cargo-carrying trade-off for choosing a hybrid. Interior dimensions remain the same across all Explorer models.

Ford estimates a 5,000 pound towing capacity for the hybrid, which should allow for a boat, an ATV or two, or perhaps a small race car. As we reported before, the hybrid powertrain will be standard for the Explorer Police Interceptor, meaning the thin blue line will be green.

[Images: Ford]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 15, 2019

    Ugly and boring. Another opportunity for Ford to bring genuine innovation and excitement to this field of SUVs but, like the Ranger, they opted for the path of least resistance. But hey, at least you have an iPad knockoff taped vertically to the dash

  • Jatz Jatz on Jan 15, 2019

    "Another opportunity for Ford to bring genuine innovation and excitement to this field of SUVs" Engine fires aren't exciting enough for ya?

  • Redapple2 Brandee. Another Stanford grad. Bankman Fried. The blood test girl. Mary Barra.
  • Redapple2 CruiseSTUPID, battery problems, software, killing carplay and AM. Why is this so hard.
  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.