Ford brings “no compromise” hybrid tech to 2020 Explorer

A first since it’s 1991 debut, America’s best-selling SUV will get an electrified version.

Ford debuted three versions of the all-new 2020 Explorer during NAIAS, including it’s first-ever hybrid version. The Explorer Hybrid will use a 3.3-L V6, an e-motor and a 1.5 kW battery pack to produce projected combined-power ratings of 312 hp (233 kW) and 336 lb·ft (456 k·W). “We call it a no-compromise hybrid,” explained Bill Gubing, Explorer’s chief engineer. “We’re not giving up floor space, and we’re not giving up cargo space.” 

Explorer Hybrid’s liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery will be positioned below the second-row seats, underneath the floor pan. “By designing the architecture up front with electrification in-mind, we tucked the battery away,” Gubing said, with the chief engineer pointing out the battery’s packaging doesn’t significantly alter ground clearance, expected to spec out at 7.9 in. “It’s a really eloquent, compact package,” said Gubing.

Unlike the electrified 2020 Lincoln Aviator that’s designed as an AWD-only plug-in hybrid, the Explorer is a traditional hybrid. “Our e-motor is stacked right next to the torque converter, right in the middle of the transmission,” Gubing noted. “And we use that e-motor to provide a torque boost through the whole drive system.”

According to Ford, the targeted driving range on a single fill-up for the Explorer Hybrid RWD variant will exceed 500 miles, and it will be rated to tow 5,000-lbs when properly equipped. The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid will be built at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and begin reaching dealerships in the summer of 2019.

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