Ford Explorer Plug-in Hybrid (2020)

13 Aug 2021, 13:19  •  Review  •  Door koen

After about twenty years, the Explorer is making a comeback on the Dutch market. The car has grown a lot, but thanks to the new plug-in hybrid version, it is also much more economical. How efficient is the flagship exactly?

Ford Explorer 1990

With the first Explorer from 1990, Ford stood at the cradle of the ‘SUV craze’ in the United States. It has also always been one of the most popular SUV models there. In Europe it is a different story. Until now, the Explorer has only been included in the official sales lists in a few countries. In the Netherlands, for example, only the second generation from 1995 was officially delivered.

Ford SUV for Europe

With SUVs becoming more and more popular in Europe, Ford thinks it’s time for a comeback. And how. The Explorer is officially available for the first time in all European countries. Because the consumption of a car in Europe is an important factor, a plug-in hybrid version has even been developed especially for our continent.

Ford Explorer Plug-in Hybrid measurements

With a length of 4.8 meters and a width of 1.8 meters, the 1995 model was no small boy. But like so many cars, the Explorer has grown over the years. The new model measures almost exactly five by two meters. Only the height has remained the same: both in 1995 and now, the Explorer is just over 1.70 meters high.

Ford SUV model finish

Fortunately, the Explorer has also grown in a figurative sense. He has matured a lot. The use of materials and the finish are now fully at the level that European consumers expect. This puts the Explorer neatly in line with the other Ford model range.

Ford Explorer Plug-in Hybrid interior

The large exterior dimensions also ensure a very spacious interior. You have plenty of space in the front and with a length of 1.80 meters we can easily take a seat ‘behind ourselves’ in the back seat. We’ve seen cars that were tighter in the front than the Explorer is in the back…

Ford Explorer extra seats

Even the standard third row of seats offers enough space for an adult. It is a bit of a climb to get there, but once we have taken a seat, we have nothing to complain about legroom. You do have a fairly high floor there, so your feet are a bit high, so that the seat no longer supports your legs. You should also not be taller than 1.80 meters in the third row of seats, because our head already touches the roof. Children will still have plenty of space in the back and that is exactly what the third row of seats is intended for.

Ford SUV Extra luggage space

Behind the third row of seats still fits a respectable 330 liters of luggage. Don’t need those extra seats? The third row of seats can be folded electrically at the push of a button. This creates a sea of luggage space: you will lose no less than 1,137 liters in it. If you also fold the normal rear seats, you can even fit 2,274 liters of luggage in the back. Those are delivery truck numbers!

Ford Explorer tow power

Other figures that are important for these types of cars: the towing weight. The hook can hold no less than 2.5 tons, so you won’t have anything to complain about in that area. The system torque is a solid 825 Nm, so he gets that weight from his place. Moreover, the Explorer has not forgotten its origin as a luxury off-road vehicle. It still has permanent four-wheel drive, which means it can handle any surface even with a heavy load. You have to be very furry if you want to get it stuck on rough terrain.

Furthermore, the Explorer has a special driving mode for driving with (heavy) trailers. All driver assistance systems are then aimed at making driving with a large trailer as safe and comfortable as possible. This includes assistance when reversing, but the swaying of the trailer is also prevented at higher speeds.

Engine and performance

The basis of the powertrain is a 3.0-liter V6 with an output of 363 hp. As mentioned, the V6 is specially for Europe combined with hybrid technology. That produces a system power of no less than 457 hp. That’s even slightly more powerful than the current F-150 Raptor! If you put everything on the line with the Sport mode, the Explorer will reach 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds and steam up to 230 km/h. In the Explorer, the V6 is always coupled to a comfortable ten-speed automatic.

Ford Explorer fuel consumption

If you always charge the car neatly when possible, then according to the WLTP cycle, a consumption of 1 to 32.3 should be possible. If you drive exclusively on the fuel engine, the Explorer will officially drive roughly 1 in 10. In practice, you are somewhere in between. In any case, they are decent values, especially for such a mastodon with more than 450 hp and a considerable car weight.

Ford Explorer EV mode

As usual, the Explorer also has multiple EV modes. In EV Auto, the Explorer itself chooses the ideal drive form, in EV Now you drive fully electrically until the power is exhausted, with EV Later you save the power supply for a later moment during the ride and with EV Charge the battery is actively charged. With EV Later and certainly EV Charge you consume a little more fuel, but then you know for sure that you can later drive fully electric through a city center or residential area.

Fully electric Ford

Speaking of fully electric, there appears to be very little difference between EV Auto and EV Later. That’s positive. Many plug-in hybrids quickly switch to the fuel engine in automatic mode. The Explorer also appears to prefer to drive fully electrically in EV Auto. The fuel engine didn’t come on until we accelerated smoothly to merge onto the highway.

In theory, the Explorer should be able to cover 42 kilometers completely electrically. Our first introductory ride was not very representative of normal daily kilometers, but we do have the impression that you should be able to get close to those 42 kilometers in practice. At least if you avoid the highway.

Drive experience Ford Explorer

Admittedly: once we got behind the wheel, we had to get used to the dimensions. Especially the high and optically long nose of the Ford. However, the habituation only lasts a short time, soon we can read and write with the car. Both in the steering and the other driving behavior you notice very little of the large size. Only when you really go hard into a corner do you notice the weight.

Comfort Ford Explorer

Furthermore, there is a lot of peace on board. Even on the highway we hardly heard any wind noise. The chassis gives short bumps noticeably, but it is nice to still notice what is happening below you. It never gets uncomfortable. He even takes vowel roads without significant vibrations.

Ford Explorer V6

If the fuel engine switches on, it stays nicely in the background. Although, when accelerating, the V6 does make itself heard. That’s not a punishment. Especially in Sport mode, the block gives a nice roar. Ford has assured us that that is really not amplified through the speakers. Speaking of speakers, the audio system comes standard from Bang & Olufsen and has no fewer than fifteen speakers. Optimal music quality guaranteed.

Ford Explorer cost

Which brings us to the rest of the equipment. The Dutch price list starts at 77,910 euros. A hefty amount, but for that you immediately get the entire range of equipment. It is not possible to list everything here. Assume that you get almost everything in the field of luxury and assistance systems that Ford can currently supply. You only have to choose the color for the Explorer. The option list only includes accessories such as roof bars, a towbar or additional floor mats.

Ford Explorer similar cars

For the competition, Ford primarily thinks of the ‘premium’ models of other German brands, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Don’t forget the Volvo XC90 T8, also a plug-in hybrid. A car like the new Kia Sorento could also become a formidable competitor, especially now that it is also available as a PHEV.

Conclusion

The new Ford Explorer is a powerful and very spacious car, which, if used as intended, is also very economical. The starting price sounds hefty, but remember that you get just about all possible equipment as standard. With most competition you still have to start ticking nice things with this amount…

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