2020 Ford Explorer hybrid, performance-oriented ST revealed

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Illustrating its commitment to SUVs and crossovers at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford on Monday took the wraps off of two more versions of its 2020 Explorer: the thriftier Explorer hybrid and the sportier Explorer ST. The eco-friendly and performance-oriented Explorers will act like bookends for the mainstream lineup unveiled last week when they go on sale this summer.

The hybrid features a 3.3-liter, naturally aspirated V-6 paired to a lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor to provide a combined output of 318 horsepower. Ford didn’t list total torque, but said the electric motor produces 200 pound-feet of torque. With its 10-speed automatic transmission, the Explorer hybrid will be capable of delivering 500 miles of range on a full tank in standard rear-wheel-drive guise. All-wheel drive will be optional on the Explorer hybrid. 

MORE: Read our detailed 2020 Ford Explorer preview

Ford stopped short of saying just how fuel-efficient the 2020 Explorer hybrid will be, but the automaker told The Car Connection that the Explorer hybrid will have a 19.4-gallon fuel tank, which works out to around 26 mpg. That’s a surprisingly low figure compared to the Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s 28 to 29 mpg combined rating with its standard all-wheel-drive system. 

2020 Ford Explorer hybrid

2020 Ford Explorer hybrid

However, Ford said that the hybrid powertrain won’t badly ding the Explorer’s towing ability. It’ll be rated to lug as much as 5,000 pounds, down nominally from the Explorer lineup’s 5,600-pound max rating. The Highlander Hybrid is rated at 3,500 pounds. 

The Explorer hybrid uses a 1.5-kwh lithium-ion battery pack tucked below its passenger-side second-row seat, which means it has the same 87.8-cubic-foot maximum cargo capacity as the standard Explorer. 

At least initially, the Explorer’s hybrid powertrain will be available only in the Limited trim level. The Explorer Limited hybrid comes with leather upholstery, first- and second-row heated seats, a wireless charging pad for phones and tablets, and a 14-speaker B&O audio system.

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Replacing the Explorer Sport in the lineup, the 2020 Explorer ST uses 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 rated at 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque (on 93-octane gas) that roots power to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Special calibrations triggered by the drive-mode controller’s Sport setting tighten steering heft, retune the transmission and throttle, and pipe a synthetic engine note into the cabin. Underneath, the Explorer ST is fitted with tauter suspension than the standard model. 

A black mesh grille and other black-painted exterior details give the ST a meaner look than its chrome-heavy siblings. Inside, the Explorer ST features a flat-bottom steering wheel and ST-specific leather upholstery. 

The Explorer ST appears to be a more comprehensive, performance-oriented package than the outgoing Sport model thanks in part to two available packages. The optional ST Street Pack and ST Track Pack add 21-inch alloy wheels and two levels of upgraded brakes with red-painted calipers. Ford said that it is targeting a 143-mph top speed for the Explorer ST. 

Ford did not announce pricing for either the Explorer hybrid or the Explorer ST.

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