First-Ever 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid Will Tow With the Rest Of Them: First Drive Review

2020 ford explorer hybrid awd towing off-road review
2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid

The all-new 2020 Ford Explorer is here. We take it for a first drive to see how it performs in the real world with a trailer, off-road, and on the highway. We pay special attention to the first ever Explorer Hybrid. Can the gas/electric combination tow and off-road just like all other Explorers? Find out here.

2020 Ford Explorer

This Explorer is new from the ground up. It is based on a new rear-wheel-drive platform. The wheelbase is stretched nearly seven inches over the previous generation Explorer.

Under the hood is a choice of four power options.

  • Base engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 300 horsepower
  • Next up is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower
  • The first ever gas/electric hybrid that combines a 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V6 with a 44 horsepower electric motor for a combined power of 318 hp.
  • Finally, the sportiest new Explorer ST model gets a tuned 400 horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo.

The 2020 Explorer comes in the following trim levels:

  • Base Explorer: $32,765 ($400 increase over 2019)
  • XLT: $36,675 ($2,275 increase)
  • Limited: $48,130 ($5,365 increase)
  • Limited Hybrid: $52,280
  • ST: $54,740 ($8,115 increase over 2019 Explorer Sport)
  • Platinum: $58,250 ($4,085 increase)

Explorer Hybrid

Ford is launching the new Hybrid model in a Limited trim only. This SUV uses a new modular 10-Speed automatic transmission with an additional clutch to couple or decouple the electric motor and the gasoline engine. The system can power this three-row crossover on electric power alone, on gasoline power alone, or a combination of the two.

I found the Hybrid system to be relatively smooth in its operation. While parked, the car is capable of running many of the accessories for an extended period of time (about 10-15 minutes) without starting the gas engine. My A/C and center infotainment systems were active while we were filming for at least that long.

If you do not engage the Tow/Haul or the Off-Road modes, the Hybrid is able to pull away from a stop towing an approximately 4,600 lbs boat trailer on electric power alone to up to around 8 mph (as I observed). It will also drive off-road at slow speed on electricity alone. Enabling special driving modes engages the gas engine.

The Explorer Hybrid is rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs. The 2.3-liter Explorer are rated up to 5,300 lbs. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo are rated up to 5,600 lbs.

The Hybrid uses regenerative braking to recoup some of the energy. I found that 8-10% of the driving I did around town and a two-lane highway were done on “all electric”, according to the trip computer.

EPA and Ford fuel economy estimates are not yet available for the hybrid, but Ford says about 500 miles of range is possible on one fill-up.

The 2020 Ford Explorer is going on sale now. They should start arriving at your local dealership now.