Ford Explorer hybrid and ST revealed

Thrifty or rambunctious: 2020 Ford Explorer hybrid and ST revealed

For the sake of highly unscientific comparisons, Land Rover says the Range Rover Sport runs from zero to 60 miles per hour in a claimed 6.8 seconds, a figure the Explorer ST should have no problem beating based on our previous experiences with the engine.

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. Ford will offer both ST Street Pack and ST Track Pack upgrades, with 21-inch aluminum wheels and red-painted brake calipers, and differing levels of performance brakes.

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 Explorer Hybrid and Explorer ST are two very different sides of the same coin, but they do share a performance bent. When engaged via the Selectable Drive Mode dial in the center console, the steering system tightens for sportier reaction, the gas pedal responds more aggressively, gears hold longer and shift quicker, and an enhanced engine note plays through the cabin. A flat-bottomed heated steering wheel embossed with an ST logo, as well as unique floor mats, are subtle ST-exclusive cues.

Inside, a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is standard.

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Ford boldly calls the Explorer ST "the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000", and it packs upgraded brakes, springs, and dampers. Ford claims that this year it's introducing a whole slew of hybrid vehicles that combine performance and extended range via their efficiency, and this one is just the first.

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

The ST stands out from the standard Explorer thanks to a blacked-out grille, unique lower-body panels, and special badging.

Beyond making life a little greener for SUV owners, Explorer chief engineer Bill Gubing points out that "Reduced cargo space in hybrids is a thing of the past for Ford customers". A specially designed liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery is built into the Explorer chassis below the second-row seats to preserve cargo and passenger space, unlike previous hybrid vehicles. Final EPA-estimated ratings available in the 2019 calendar year.

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