Green and mean: Ford Explorer Hybrid and ST debut

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Both the Explorer ST and hybrid will come with the same 10-speed automatic as in the standard members of the Explorer lineup. Ford said the hybrid can tug up to 5,000 pounds (down just 600 pounds from the Explorer's max tow rating of 5,600 pounds), which is 1,500 pounds more than a Highlander Hybrid can haul. Options include an ST Street Pack and an ST Track Pack.

Last year, the luxury carmaker denied it was behind the times, instead, it was saying it wasn't time for electric vehicles, and their delay in turning to all-electric models shows they are working towards better powertrain designs. Like the Edge ST, the Explorer ST includes a sport mode that tightens the steering system, makes the throttle response more aggressive, increases the gear shift speed, and enhances the engine note. Underneath, the Explorer ST is fitted with tauter suspension than the standard model.

Visually, the ST sets itself apart from the regular SUV with a black mesh grille insert, liftgate appliqué, lower bodyside details, roof-rack side rails, and unique skid plate elements. Leather sport bucket seats with micro-perforations, City Silver accent stitching and ST logo complete the sporty feel. The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and towing package are standard, too.

Additionally, owners will get a couple of luxurious Caddy rider entertainment enhancements like a Bose Performance series sound system, heated seats and steering wheel, NFC phone pairing and wireless charging for compatible phones, and an in-air ionizer to ensure that you inhale only clean air.

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The hybrid features a 3.3-liter, naturally aspirated V-6 paired to a lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor to provide a combined output of 318 horsepower. A brand new 10-speed modular hybrid transmission has been used.

The small lithium-ion battery pack is mounted under the rear passenger seat in the second row, which means none of the Explorer's 87.8 cubic feet of cargo space is lost by opting for the most-efficient Explorer.

At the other extreme comes the 2020 Explorer Hybrid. Final EPA-estimated ratings available in the 2019 calendar year.

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