2020 Ford Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid bring power and electric to Detroit

Ford promised a whole family of 2020 Explorer versions, spanning fuel-efficiency through to performance, and sure enough here come the 2020 Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid to seal that deal. Unveiled this week at the Detroit Auto Show 2019, the two new SUVs demonstrate the wide scope Ford has with the all-new Escape, now in its sixth generation.

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Aiming to deliver the most fun in the Explorer range, the new Ford Performance-tuned Explorer ST arrives with a specially-fettled engine under the hood. The massaged 3.0-liter EcoBoost is expected to muster 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque, Ford says, enough for a top speed of 143 mph.

That will make it the most powerful production Ford SUV so far, indeed. A 10-speed automatic transmission will be standard, as will four-wheel drive with selectable traction control. Sport mode – selected through a drive mode dial in the center console – will firm up the steering, make the gas pedal more aggressive, hold lower gears for longer, and cut shift times. Probably controversially, it'll also pipe a more "enhanced" engine sound into the cabin.

Outside, there's a black mesh grille insert, a ljftgate appliqué, and new lower bodyside details. Roof-rack side rails and skid plate elements have been added, too, while EXPLORER badging spans the front edge of the hood.

As for the cabin, the 12.3-inch digital instrumentation cluster is standard, as is a flat-bottomed, heated steering wheel with an ST logo embossed into it. 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.

Standard tech includes Active Park Assist 2.0, which can control the steering gas, brake, and transmission as it guides the car through parallel and perpendicular parking. The Class III Trailer Tow Package with the Cargo Management System is also fitted as standard. Options include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack.

Each of those packs get 21-inch aluminum wheels, with differing sizes of performance brakes and larger vented rotors. The brake calipers are painted red, with stainless steel pistons. Meanwhile the brake pads are larger, too.

2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid

At the other extreme comes the 2020 Explorer Hybrid. Oddly enough, though, it has a larger-displacement engine than the ST: a 3.3-liter powertrain combining gas and electric drive. Ford expects it to deliver 318 horsepower overall.

There's no breakdown of electric-only range, but Ford says it expects a total range of more than 500 miles with gas and electric drive combined, at least in the rear-wheel -drive model. A brand new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission has been used. By packaging the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery into the Explorer Hybrid's chassis, below the second row seats, it doesn't eat into cargo space.

Ford will offer the 2020 Explorer Hybrid in Limited trim, with Co-Pilot360 Assist+ driver assistance, leather seats with micro-perforation and accent stitching, Active Noise Cancelation in the cabin, and a 14-speaker B&O premium sound system. There'll be a wireless phone charging pad and 10-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seating, too. The second row seats will have heating.

The 2020 Explorer range

These two new versions of the Explorer will join four others in dealerships: the base model, XLT, Limited, and Platinum. Built at the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant, they're expected to go on sale this summer. Pricing and final specifications will be confirmed closer to that point.