Question is, will it be used?
The most powerful new 2020 Ford Explorer you can buy is the 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque Explorer ST. Zero to 60 mph? A conservative 5.5 seconds, according to Ford. That’s actually pretty darn good considering the new SUV tips the scale at 4,701 pounds. However, it’s not the most powerful SUV in its class. That honor belongs to Dodge Durango SRT whose Hemi V8 produces 475 hp. But why did Ford decide to opt for the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 over, say, the Mustang’s 5.0-liter Coyote V8? If Ford really wanted the power crown, then that V8’s 460 hp and 420 lb-ft would be the way to go. Thing is, Ford didn’t think Explorer shoppers cared about having that much power at their disposal.
Speaking with Muscle Cars and Trunks, Ford’s Global Chief Engineer for the 2020 Explorer Bill Gubing stated that he doesn’t "think anyone (shopping) in this class right now is saying ‘I want a V8.’ We’re to the point of wanting it to be effortless, and fun.”
Pricing is another issue. The 2020 Explorer ST begins at less than $55,000 while the Durango SRT, which is also a three-row SUV, runs for about $63,000. For less than $60k, 400 hp in an Explorer is not a bad deal. "On the Explorer ST, (customers) wanted it to be where they’re on the on-ramp, step on the gas, and have no doubts that they’re going to beat the guy coming up,” Gubing continued. "It’s effortless, it’s fun, and it’s engaging.”
Another key issue Ford considered was weight. The twin-turbo V6 weighs less than the V8 and driving dynamics – especially for a vehicle of this size and weight – were essential. "By taking the weight out and having new platform dynamics, it makes the front end feel much lighter, zippier, and if you spent any time in the previous generation, the 2020 Explorer ST will feel like a racecar in comparison,” Gubing added. "But it’s not about the racing, it’s about having confidence and comfort behind the wheel.”
However, Gubing never outright stated that the new Explorer can’t accommodate a V8; Ford simply chose not to go with it for the above reasons. This doesn’t mean it’s not technically possible.
Could Gubing’s team shoehorn the Mustang GT’s V8 into the Explorer’s engine bay? "Our engineers like to play,” is all Gubing would say. An Explorer RS? Please, Ford. Make this one happen.