Ford Explorer ST with 400 hp and Explorer Hybrid revealed in Detroit

Thrifty or rambunctious: 2020 Ford Explorer hybrid and ST revealed

Completing Ford's 2020 Explorer range is the Hybrid version, joining the recently-unveiled ST in Detroit, alongside the regular model. Ford says that the ST's top "track speed" is 229 kilometres an hour, putting this Explorer is some rarified company indeed.

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.

The redesigned Explorer will begin arriving in showrooms later this year.

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. Combining a 10-speed transmission with four-wheel-drive, the Explorer ST also offers a Sport mode which will tighten up the steering and throttle response while holding onto gears a little longer, making it, in chief functional engineer, Ed Krenz's words, "a hell of a lot of fun to drive".

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Ford hasn't announced pricing for either the Explorer hybrid or ST, but said both will go on sale this summer with the rest of the lineup. A top speed target for track drivers stands at 143 miles per hour. In fact, it turned out to be the most powerful Explorer ever made, squeezing 400 horsepower and 415 lb. -ft. of torque from the 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that otherwise develops only 365 horsepower. 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. Suspension is stiffened up, and the brakes are slightly upgraded.

Specially tuned dampers and springs are on hand to sharpen the handling, and, for those who require maximum performance from their three-row family hauler, an ST Street Pack and ST Track Pack are available. It has unique leather upholstery with ST logos stitched in the seatbacks and a heated flat-bottom steering wheel.

An all-new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission provides SUV capability.

The ST includes some other nice standard features. In today's announcement, Ford added that the Explorer Hybrid's lithium-ion battery pack will be liquid-cooled and fitted below the second-row seats in a way that preserves passenger and cargo space. Ford has previously anticipated that the Explorer Hybrid would return 24 mpg, EPA combined, although its final ratings might land somewhat higher than that.

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