Ford adds ST, Hybrid models to the 2020 Explorer lineup

Thrifty or rambunctious: 2020 Ford Explorer hybrid and ST revealed

All-New 2020 Ford Explorer ST Is Ford's Most Powerful SUV Ever

Ford isn't talking performance numbers yet but is quick to say the Explorer ST will be quicker than a Range Rover Sport HSE with the 380-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6.

"This new generation of Explorer recognizes that every family - and every driver - is unique", said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford executive vice president of product development and purchasing.

Ford boldly calls the Explorer ST "the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000", and it packs upgraded brakes, springs, and dampers. Ford has a few months to answer those and roll out more info, as the 2020 Explorer lineup reaches dealerships this summer. A top speed target for track drivers stands at 143 miles per hour. The 400-hp 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 also spins up 415 lb-ft of torque; a 365-horse version of the same engine is available in the range-topping Explorer Platinum. "There's no mistaking its ST DNA".

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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. 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. 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. A blacked-out grille, lower body-side details, and roof-rack side rails send a subtle message to the neighbors that this suburbanite isn't averse to throwing down. It has unique leather upholstery with ST logos stitched in the seatbacks and a heated flat-bottom steering wheel.

As Ford prepares the first of several fully electric vehicles, for what amounts to a rapidly expanding niche, the automaker is also working on rolling out electrified versions of its existing mainstream lineup. Ford has previously anticipated that the Explorer Hybrid would return 24 mpg, EPA combined, although its final ratings might land somewhat higher than that.

The small lithium-ion battery pack is mounted under the rear passenger seat in the second row, which means none of the Explorer's 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space is lost by opting for the most-efficient Explorer.

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