by Nikesh Kooverjee
With not much new to bring to the table for 2023, the Ford Explorer Hybrid carries over as the same powerful midsize SUV we've come to know - in hybrid spec, it's a little lighter on gas while still benefiting from the outputs of the naturally aspirated Cyclone 3.3-liter V6 gas engine. The Explorer Hybrid makes a combined 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque and will tow up to 5,000 pounds, but these impressive figures aren't all that count in a segment where comfort and reliability rank highly, too. The Ford Explorer Hybrid's list of competitors includes the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Kia Sorento Hybrid, although neither offers the same capability or power as the Explorer. Compared to the standard Ford Explorer range, there is not much to differentiate the more eco-friendly model other than the powertrain, which is available in just two trims. Our review of the Ford Explorer Hybrid reveals why it's a worthy option in the segment, however.
Like the 2022 model, no major changes have been applied to the 2023 model year of the new Ford Explorer Hybrid SUV, as the rumor mill suggests it will be treated to a major facelift later this year for 2024. This generation was introduced in 2020 on a new platform with new design language that still holds up.
See trim levels and configurations:
The 2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid makes a combined 318 hp and 322 lb-ft which is transmitted to the wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Limited, while the all-wheel drive system is optional and standard on the top-end model. With this relatively large engine displacement and electric assistance, the Explorer delivers power to the wheels promptly, making for snappy in-gear and pull-away acceleration in a way that leaves rivals in the dust. While this comes at the cost of fuel economy, it does also mean it can tow heavy loads without a fuss.
To its credit, the 2023 Explorer Hybrid drives very much like a car, smoothing out bumps and feeling confident at speed. Corners are handled well, although the expected body roll will show up if you're a little too eager. While the gas Ford Explorer, which we review separately, has some off-road-oriented trims that can see it tackle rougher terrain, we'd keep our Explorer Hybrid where it thrives - in the city.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Ford Explorer is an essential part of the Blue Oval's portfolio in the USA and has proven to be one of its strongest sellers; the inclusion of a hybrid option means that the midsize crossover appeals to a broader market. The 2023 Explorer Hybrid maintains the advantage of being one of the more capable hybrids in the class, but its mediocre consumption will see buyers flocking to rivals that value gas mileage more than performance. Still, the Explorer Hybrid offers its users a potent powertrain, good handling, and a considerable number of standard safety features. Its cabin is lacking in terms of perceived quality and third-row legroom, and there are only two trim options to choose from. While there are areas that the Explorer Hybrid excel in, it's not a perfect product. Brand loyalists and those wary of hybrid power may, however, find this an ideal stepping stone to crossing into greener pastures, so to speak.