Ford Explorer hybrid and ST revealed

Anna Jefferson
January 15, 2019

Replacing the Explorer Sport, the new ST is the most powerful Explorer ever to leave the factory.

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.

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After finding plenty of success many years ago with its Ford Escape Hybrid, and then sitting out the hybrid-SUV market for many years, the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid marks a return to form for the company.

Ford boldly calls the Explorer ST "the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000", and it packs upgraded brakes, springs, and dampers. And now a year later it's being joined by the 2020 Ford Explorer ST that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show. While already more honed than a regular Explorer, an available Sport mode turns up the wick even more, with even quicker transmission responses to automatic or paddle-initiated gearswaps, more aggressive throttle response, sportier steering, and a deeper, throatier sound.

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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.

One interesting space to watch is the low cost or entry-level electric vehicles.

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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. That same testing showed the Explorer Hybrid to weigh 455 pounds more than a comparable (3.0-liter EcoBoost AWD) non-hybrid model-so the battery pack could be quite large (a plug-in hybrid version of the closely related Lincoln Aviator is due as well). Interior tweaks include a flat-bottom heated steering wheel, unique floor mats, leather sport buckets with micro-perforations, City Silver accent stitching and ST logos. Ford hasn't yet confirmed whether the Explorer Hybrid will be offered in the full range of base, XLT, Limited, and Platinum versions otherwise planned for 2020.

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