Ford Explorer hybrid and ST revealed

Ruben Fields
January 14, 2019

Ford said the hybrid can tug up to 5,000 pounds (down just 600 pounds from the Explorer's max tow rating of 5,600 pounds), which is 1,500 pounds more than a Highlander Hybrid can haul. It's bound to make the suburbs a happier and prettier place, if not a more exciting one.

Developed in conjunction with the Ford Performance division, the ST starts with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 borrowed from the maker's luxury division, Lincoln. Ford has a few months to answer those and roll out more info, as the 2020 Explorer lineup reaches dealerships this summer.

The automaker calls the new Explorer ST a "genuine Ford Performance vehicle", and it replaces the outgoing Explorer's Sport trim. Our 2017 Lincoln MKZ clobbered the zero-to-60-mph run in 4.8 seconds, and the same engine, albeit with 15 lb-ft less torque, propelled all 4555 pounds of our 2017 Lincoln Continental to 60 miles per hour in five seconds flat.

In its Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid form, which will be different in weight and perhaps output versus consumer versions, the 2020 Hybrid turned 0-60 mph times of 7.3 seconds and 0-100 mph times of 17.7 seconds, with a top speed of 137 mph, as tested by the Michigan State Police. Even taking into account the 2020 Explorer's extra mass and frontal area, we expect it to post a sub-six-second time easily.

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Optional upgrades include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack, which both have 21-inch aluminum wheels with differing levels of performance brakes, larger vented rotors, red brake calipers with stainless steel pistons, and larger brake pads for better stopping power.

Explorer ST also comes standard with a Class III Trailer Tow Package with Cargo Management System and Active Park Assist 2.0, Ford's new driver-assist parking system that takes control of the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake pedal and gear shifter during parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers with a simple touch of a button.

Visually, Explorer ST stands apart from the rest of the lineup courtesy of a black mesh grille insert, liftgate applique, lower bodyside details, roof-rack side rails and skid plate elements. On the inside, drivers are greeted by a flat-bottom steering wheel and leather bucket seats. ST logos reside on the steering wheel and seating. There's no word yet on pricing, but it should come in a fair bit higher than the current Explorer Sport's $47,720 starting price.

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