On The Road

Explorer Hybrid’s performance, power come at a cost

By Mike Hagerty

I think most people when they hear the word “hybrid” have expectations of improved fuel economy and possibly sluggish performance.

Mike Hagerty/Special to the Town Crier
The Ford Explorer Hybrid comes with a 318-horsepower engine.

But not all manufacturers take that tack. Some calibrate that additional electric motor combined with the gasoline engine to boost performance rather than cut consumption. And that’s the story of the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid.

The 2020 Explorer Hybrid takes a 3.3-liter V6, adds a modular electric modal system and comes up with 318 horsepower and 322 pounds per foot of torque.

What’s Ford’s motive? It’s not to create a hot-rod Explorer. It already has that in the 400-horsepower, twin-turbo 2020 Ford Explorer ST.

No, this is about maintaining towing-capacity expectations. The other engine available in the Explorer line is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. At 300 horsepower and 310 pounds per foot of torque, it would be fine for towing. However, a lot of American SUV owners are still skeptical of a four-cylinder engine – even a powerful one.

Thus, the 3.3-liter V6 hybrid. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency says to expect 27 mpg city/29 highway from the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid, but we didn’t see anything close to that. Admittedly, we weren’t able to put our usual couple hundred miles on the Explorer Hybrid, but 18 is a long way from 27 or 29 – especially when more than half of the miles driven were in electric mode.

The only trim level the Hybrid comes in is Limited – second only to Platinum in terms of luxury. The base-price model ($52,280) is so well equipped that the only extra-cost option on our test vehicle was a twin-panel moonroof for $1,795. So, with $1,195 destination fee, the bottom-line price reads $55,270.

That’s a pause-worthy number, especially having recently experienced the Kia Telluride (reviewed in February’s On the Road), which managed to keep its as-tested price on the sane side of 50 large.

The 2020 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid is a nice automobile, but it’s also in a segment where families have budgets.

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