Gas mileage numbers for the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid are out, and they’re a bit better than Ford had hinted earlier on.
The U.S. EPA has rated rear-wheel-drive versions of the 2020 Explorer Hybrid at 28 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 29 highway), while all-wheel-drive versions of the Explorer achieve 25 mpg combined (23 mpg city, 26 highway).
That’s better on both counts than Ford’s claim that the Hybrid would return an anticipated 24 mpg combined. And it meets Ford’s other early claim of a 500-mile range. With its 18.0-gallon fuel tank, the Explorer Hybrid just supports that with the rear-wheel drive version’s 29 mpg highway rating.
Base turbo-4 versions of the 2020 Explorer achieve EPA ratings of 24 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, or 23 mpg combined with all-wheel drive—that’s 4 mpg and 2 mpg better, respectively, than the non-hybrid counterparts.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the closest rival to the Explorer Hybrid—and if your priority is city driving, it still beats the Ford. The 2019 Highlander Hybrid only comes with all-wheel drive, and it earns 28 or 29 mpg combined depending on the equipment level. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is completely redesigned and with the addition of a front-wheel drive version could return an unconfirmed rating of up to 34 mpg, according to Toyota.
In a first drive of the Explorer Hybrid earlier this summer, we found it to behave as a kind of alter-ego to current versions of the Highlander Hybrid. While the Toyota and its planetary torque-split hybrid system (with rear electric motor) are at its smoothest, most frugal best in gentle city driving (it’ll still tow 3,500 pounds), the Explorer Hybrid felt the least-coordinated in easygoing stop-and-go—but smoother and well-coordinated when we drove it harder and faster. With a modular electric motor system fitted between Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission and a 3.3-liter V-6, with a torque converter as well, the Explorer Hybrid is configured to accommodate off-roading, and towing up to 5,000 pounds.
Given the very different mechanical layouts of these two hybrid systems—represented by the Explorer’s better mpg on the highway and the Highlander’s better numbers in the city—it’s a matter of choosing the best one for your lifestyle. And they both—if you use them how they’re intended—get some impressive mileage.
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