2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid signals the start of a big electrified push

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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.

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. And the idea of a hybrid Explorer couldn’t get much more mainstream-American-family.

In a release coordinated with the Detroit auto show and a company press conference there today, Ford released a few more details about the Explorer Hybrid, as well as some first pictures.

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid will make 318 horsepower and is projected to be rated for 500 miles of range by the EPA. 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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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. That same testing showed the Explorer Hybrid to weigh 455 pounds more than a comparable (3.0-liter EcoBoost AWD) non-hybrid model—so the battery pack could be quite large (a plug-in hybrid version of the closely related Lincoln Aviator is due as well).

As previously revealed, the Explorer Hybrid will have a 3.3-liter V-6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission that incorporates a modular hybrid system. 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.

2020 Ford Explorer hybrid

2020 Ford Explorer hybrid

Accompanying pictures don’t reveal much more about the Explorer Hybrid, and without full specifications, the information thus far is sparse. However, one of the pictures released by Ford shows the Hybrid towing a boat/trailer, so we can assume a generous tow rating. Ford’s previous hybrid SUV, the Escape Hybrid, was only rated to tow 1,000 pounds.

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Hybrid Limited models will get Active Noise Cancellation, as well as 10-way-adjustable power front seats, leather upholstery, second-row heated seats, a wireless phone charging pad, and 14-speaker B&O sound, plus a suite of Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ safety and assistance technologies. Ford hasn’t yet confirmed whether the Explorer Hybrid will be offered in the full range of base, XLT, Limited, and Platinum versions otherwise planned for 2020.

The information about the Hybrid builds on what was formally released last week—that the 2020 Explorer lineup returns to a platform that accommodates either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, like the Explorer models that built that nameplate in the ‘90s and ‘00s. But Ford hasn’t yet specified whether both drive configurations will be offered for the Hybrid.

Plenty of fundamental questions about the Hybrid remain, such as the size of the battery, and what price tag this big family-sized vehicle will carry. Ford has a few months to answer those and roll out more info, as the 2020 Explorer lineup reaches dealerships this summer.

 
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