Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Green and mean: Ford Explorer Hybrid and ST debut

Sherri Watson | 14 January, 2019, 19:14

Ford Performance is the group responsible for ST and RS models, Shelby Mustangs, and with Ford eradicating most cars from its North American lineup, an increasing number of SUVs, including the Edge ST introduced a year ago.

To get the most out of the hot rod Explorer, a Sport mode can be engaged for more aggressive throttle mapping, an altered gearbox shift schedule that will hold onto gears longer, a weightier steering feel and louder engine note.

Ford claims the Explorer Sport has a top speed of 143 miles per hour, is faster than the Range Rover Sport with its supercharged V-6 engine, and is the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000.

Power is fed through a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and standard four-wheel drive with selectable traction control. It's the most powerful Explorer with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 making 400 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, and it's even more torquey than the non-hybrid Lincoln Aviator that shares the engine.

Options include the ST Street Pack and ST Track Pack, both of which come with 21-inch aluminum wheels, red brake calipers, and their own individual brake upgrades. "EXPLORER" badging stretches across the front edge of the hood. Interior tweaks include a flat-bottom heated steering wheel, unique floor mats, leather sport buckets with micro-perforations, City Silver accent stitching and ST logos.

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

Ford boldly calls the Explorer ST "the fastest three-row SUV under $60,000", and it packs upgraded brakes, springs, and dampers.

Ford is reinventing the standard for what a hybrid can be, and this year is introducing an entirely new generation of hybrids that bring out the best in hybrid vehicles with great performance and the freedom to go further.

An all-new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission provides SUV capability. Unlike other Ford hybrid vehicles that sacrificed space for big, awkwardly-placed battery packs, this one slides its specially designed liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery into the chassis beneath the second row seats so owners don't have to give up legroom or cargo space.

"Lost cargo space in hybrids is a thing of the past for Ford customers", said Bill Gubing, Explorer chief engineer. Ford has previously anticipated that the Explorer Hybrid would return 24 mpg, EPA combined, although its final ratings might land somewhat higher than that.