Ford Explorer ST, Hybrid

Ford Explorer ST, Hybrid

And now a year later it's being joined by the 2020 Ford Explorer ST that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show.

That will make it the most powerful production Ford SUV so far, indeed.

Power is fed through a quick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission and standard four-wheel drive with selectable traction control. Selecting Sport mode alters the shift mapping and throttle response for maximum acceleration right up to the ST's claimed 143-mph top speed. A blacked-out grille, lower body-side details, and roof-rack side rails send a subtle message to the neighbors that this suburbanite isn't averse to throwing down. The Explorer ST also gets special floor mats; leather sport bucket seats with micro-perforation, silver accent stitching, and the ST logo are also included. Active Park Assist 2.0, which not only handles steering inputs but also accelerator, braking, and gearshift inputs, is also included as standard.

Despite being made to be enjoyed as the most Explorer ever, the ST remembers its roots and will come with a Class III Trailer Tow Package with Cargo Management System. Options include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack. As standard, the Explorer ST rides on 20-inch aluminum wheels. The brake calipers are painted red, with stainless steel pistons. Ford has previously anticipated that the Explorer Hybrid would return 24 mpg, EPA combined, although its final ratings might land somewhat higher than that. Oddly enough, though, it has a larger-displacement engine than the ST: a 3.3-liter powertrain combining gas and electric drive.

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. A brand new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission has been used. 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. As Ford's SUV sales leader, Explorer will set the pace for the rest of Ford's utility lineup, which continues growing this year with an all-new Escape - and more. The second row seats will have heating.