Ford is already off to a strong start with the 2020 Ford Explorer lineup, with the ST version making a splash in the performance SUV segment, and even the lesser trims riding a strong wave of success and equally potent customer demand. But missing in action for the moment is the 2020 Explorer hybrid, and with that configuration’s release drawing ever closer, the Blue Oval has finally unveiled the official fuel economy figures for this particular model.
As expected, the Hybrid’s figures are a noticeable jump over the base Explorer. The most efficient version of the Hybrid is the base 3.3 liter V6 equipped rear wheel drive variant, with that model posting an impressive 27 mpg in city driving, 29 mpg in freeway driving, and a commendable 28 mpg in combined driving. This is an improvement of 6 mpg in urban commuting and 4 in more balanced driving, versus the base 2.3 liter turbocharged four cylinder. The lone disappointing outlier is freeway economy, with that figure only improving by 1 mpg which is a shame considering that some customers wanted a few more mpg in this particular category.
The heavier all-wheel drive equipped model is not quite as impressive, with the extra weight causing that version of the hybrid to post 23 mpg in city driving, 26 mpg in freeway driving and 25 mpg in combined driving. When put side by side against the all-wheel drive equipped 2.3 liter model, the hybrid only has a 3 and 2 mpg advantage respectively, and freeway economy actually dips 1 mpg though the added versatility provided by the all-wheel drive system does help make this a reasonably accommodating trade off. The extra power on hand will certainly impress customers too, with the Explorer Hybrid’s 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque ratings surpassing its only key competitor the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. But while Ford does have a slight edge here, the Highlander is not down for the count considering that the big Toyota makes all-wheel drive standard equipment, and the front wheel drive version beats the Explorer out in city fuel economy. Lastly, the Highlander is also about to be radically updated for the 2020 model year, and while those models have not arrived in dealerships either as of yet, Toyota is claiming that the next generation Highlander will achieve 34 mpg in combined driving in front wheel guise, and 33 mpg when linked to an optional all-wheel drive system.
In short, look for the war between these two versatile entries to heat up especially in the hotly contested green SUV segment. We look forward to eventually driving both of these entries in the near future to see who will indeed be crowned the winner when the dust settles and both models are formally unleashed onto consumers.