2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid Review

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid offers plenty of interior room, and its hybrid system never feels short on power. However, throttle response is slow at times, and fuel economy is poor for the class. The 2020 Explorer Hybrid does not have an overall score or ranking because it has not been fully crash tested.

Pros & Cons

  • Plenty of cargo space
  • Lots of standard features, including many driver assistance aids
  • Smooth ride
  • Rivals have nicer cabins with comfier second- and third-row seats
  • Infotainment and climate controls are a bit clunky
  • Jarring transition from electric to gasoline power

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid is unranked in Hybrid and Electric SUVs. Currently the Ford Explorer Hybrid has a score of N/A out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 10 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

N/A

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 6.3
Interior: 6.9
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other hybrid and electric suvs.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Ford Explorer Hybrid a Good SUV?

The Ford Explorer Hybrid is not a very good SUV. Other hybrid and electric SUVs offer richer cabins, comfier rear seats, and more overall athleticism than the Explorer Hybrid. Still, it has a good amount of cargo space and many standard features. Its ride is smooth on pavement, and it offers some light off-road capability, but throttle response can be uneven, and there's noticeable body lean around corners.

Should I Buy the Ford Explorer Hybrid?

There are better options in this class than this Ford. No matter what you like about the Explorer Hybrid, you can find that and more in other hybrid SUVs. To make matters worse, the Explorer Hybrid is expensive. Many smaller hybrid SUVs cost far less, and even other midsize hybrids (including some luxury models) have lower price tags. Instead of this Ford, you would do well to consider alternatives like the Toyota Highlander Hybrid or the Lexus RX Hybrid.

Compare the Explorer Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, and RX Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Ford Explorer Hybrid?

The Explorer Hybrid is a brand-new model for the 2020 year. Its introduction coincides with Ford's redesign of the nonhybrid Ford Explorer, which we review separately.

We Did the Research for You: 10 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

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How Much Does the Ford Explorer Hybrid Cost?

The Explorer Hybrid has a starting price that's just a bit under $53,000. That makes it far and away the most expensive vehicle in the hybrid and electric SUV class. Well below the Explorer Hybrid's price are smaller models like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, and Nissan Rogue Hybrid. The Explorer Hybrid also costs more than some luxury hybrid and electric SUVs, such as the Lexus RX Hybrid.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

Ford Explorer Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Ford Explorer Hybrid or Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is worth a look in the hybrid and electric SUV class. Neither SUV is very athletic, but both ride smoothly. The Toyota has an energetic powertrain that's responsive and smooth, but the Ford can tow a bit more. Inside, the Toyota dominates. It's much more attractive and upscale, it can seat two more people than the Ford, and it has comfier seats. The Toyota also gets an excellent predicted reliability rating.

Which Is Better: Ford Explorer Hybrid or Lexus RX Hybrid?

Despite it’s being a luxury hybrid SUV, the Lexus RX Hybrid costs less than the Explorer Hybrid. The Lexus has a stylish cabin with top-notch materials and comfortable seats, and it's available in two- and three-row variants. However, its infotainment system is frustrating, and it has less cargo space than the Explorer. The RX Hybrid is powerful and smooth out on the road, and it earns an outstanding predicted reliability rating. The Lexus is the better choice overall in this comparison.

Which Is Better: Ford Explorer Hybrid or Ford Explorer?

The nonhybrid Ford Explorer is completely redesigned for the 2020 model year. As you might expect, these two SUVs have a lot in common. In fact, the hybrid model is a subset of the Ford Explorer Limited trim. There are only two major differences between the Explorer Hybrid and the nonhybrid Ford Explorer. One is the powertrain, and the other is price. Not surprisingly, the base nonhybrid Explorer is considerably less expensive than the Explorer Hybrid. The former starts at less than $37,000.

Compare the Explorer Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, and RX Hybrid »

Explorer Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the Explorer Hybrid Seat?

The Explorer Hybrid seats six people. The front seats provide plenty of room and support. The second and third rows both have a decent amount of head- and legroom, but the second-row seats feel like they need more cushioning. The third-row seats are mounted low, which forces adult riders to sit with their knees pressed toward their chest.

Explorer Hybrid and Child Car Seats

The Explorer Hybrid has complete sets of LATCH connectors for installing child car seats.

Explorer Hybrid Interior Quality

The Explorer Hybrid's cabin is functional and makes you feel at home in the driver's seat. However, many rivals have more attractive interiors with higher-end cabin materials.

Explorer Hybrid Cargo Space

The Explorer Hybrid gives you plenty of cargo space for the hybrid and electric SUV class. There’s 18.2 cubic feet of space behind the third-row seats, which is enough room for more than a dozen shopping bags. Fold down the second- and third-row seats, and you get 87.8 cubic feet.

Explorer Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, satellite radio, four USB ports, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A rear-seat entertainment system is available.

The infotainment controls are well-organized and easy to reach, but some of the climate controls are a bit difficult to use. The touch-screen's sharp graphics make it easy to see and read. Still, the SYNC 3 system could be more intuitive, as it requires several steps to use some functions.

Read more about interior »

Explorer Hybrid Performance

Explorer Hybrid Engine: Solid but Unrefined

The Explorer Hybrid features a 3.3-liter V6 engine and an electric motor that produce a combined 318 horsepower. The engine doesn't always feel responsive, so power delivery can be uneven, especially at lower speeds. Still, this Ford is decently quick off the line and has ample power. You'll notice the transition from electric to gasoline power more than in you will in some rivals, and it's a bit jarring.

Explorer Hybrid Gas Mileage: Check Back Later

EPA fuel economy estimates are not yet available for the 2020 Explorer Hybrid, but Ford claims this SUV has a 500-mile range. With an 18-gallon gas tank, that works out to just under 28 mpg. That combined MPGe rating would be among the lowest for hybrid and electric SUVs.

Explorer Hybrid Ride and Handling: Not Exactly a Mustang

Though the Explorer Hybrid is far from the most athletic SUV in the class, most reviewers say it has well-weighted steering. Just make sure you're paying attention, as there's plenty of body lean around turns, and the brakes are a bit grabby. On the bright side, the Explorer rides smoothly, even over rough pavement.

Explorer Hybrid Off-Road Performance

Though it won't be anyone's first choice for an off-road machine, this Ford is reasonably capable when the pavement ends. Its terrain management system adjusts the suspension to traverse different surfaces. Inclines and angled hills don't present too tough of a challenge for the Explorer Hybrid, and it can even wade through more than a foot of water.

Explorer Hybrid Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Explorer Hybrid can tow up to 5,000 pounds, which is more than enough for a small trailer or boat. It can pull several thousand pounds without feeling overworked. Standard Trailer Sway Control reduces unwanted trailer movement on the road.

Read more about performance »

Explorer Hybrid Reliability

Is the Ford Explorer Hybrid Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Explorer Hybrid a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Ford Explorer Hybrid Warranty

Ford backs the Explorer Hybrid with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hybrid components are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Explorer Hybrid Safety

Explorer Hybrid Crash Test Results

At the time of writing, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid.

Explorer Hybrid Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features include a surround-view parking camera, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, evasive steering assist, lane keep assist, and lane centering. You also get blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, as standard. Some of these features are included in Ford's Co-Pilot 360 package. All models come with Ford’s MyKey, which lets you do things like set limits on speed and audio volume for secondary drivers.

Read more about safety »

Explorer Hybrid Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 Explorer Hybrid is 16.7 feet long. It has a curb weight of 4,969 pounds.

Where is the Ford Explorer Hybrid built?

Ford built the 2020 Explorer Hybrid in Illinois.

Which Ford Explorer Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid is a variant of the nonhybrid Ford Explorer's Limited trim. In other words, there’s only one configuration for the Explorer Hybrid. It starts at $52,280, and it comes with plenty of comfort and technology features.

Standard features include leather upholstery, heated first- and second-row seats, second-row captain's chairs, tri-zone automatic climate control, and Ford's MyKey. It also features the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, satellite radio, four USB ports, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, a surround-view parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, evasive steering assist, lane keep assist, and lane centering. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, and driver drowsiness monitoring are also standard. Some of these features are included in Ford's Co-Pilot 360 package.

You can add four-wheel drive for $2,195, a twin-panel moonroof for $1,695, and a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system for $1,995.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Ford dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Ford deals page.

See 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Explorer Hybrid represents an admirable first attempt by Ford to hybridize the long-popular Explorer. It retains a lot of what makes the Explorer a classic: a decent powertrain, plenty of cargo space, and ample capability. Unfortunately, this Ford just isn't as athletic or upscale as many other hybrid SUVs, and its price point makes it a questionable value. Keep an eye on the Explorer Hybrid for the future, but for a 2020 model, there are better options.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • Given the mystery about fuel economy, the Explorer Hybrid's value is certainly questionable. It offers strong performance with none of the typical hybrid downsides, but economy is such an outsized factor in hybrid purchases that it's hard to get a full picture of the Explorer Hybrid's appeal." -- Autoblog
  • There's a lot to like here, but it's not a grand slam home run. The new 2020 Ford Explorer rides, handles and accommodates passengers much better than the one it replaces, and it is dynamically superior to its crossover competition. The hybrid offers unexpected benefits that extend beyond fuel economy, too. But it can get expensive in a hurry, and the interior materials don't quite match the price." -- Edmunds
  • I don't think the new Explorer is bad. Far from it – I think it looks good, it has excellent powertrain variety, and its safety features (especially the lane centering) work quite well. But the margin for error in this class is growing increasingly thin. … Where I think the Explorer will really run into problems is its price. The Hybrid Limited model I tested was $57,265 (including destination charges), and it doesn't even come with the larger multimedia screen or the attractive 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. … For perspective, the practically loaded Telluride I tested was $46,860 – about $10,000 less than the Hybrid, and the Telluride has better materials and a larger cargo area. The Atlas tops out around $51,080. That's a gigantic price gap, and the Explorer would need to be exceptional to make up for it. The problem is, it just isn't." -- Cars.com
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