All you need is new software and an ethanol blend.
The success of Ford's performance-oriented "ST" badge in North America presented the automaker with an opportunity to grow the brand, capitalizing on the booming popularity of crossovers with models like the Ford Explorer ST. And while the high-performance full-size utility vehicle is no replacement for the Focus ST and Fiesta ST - cars that were favorites of budget-minded performance car shoppers and weekend warriors everywhere - the Explorer ST is a quick, sporty vehicle in its own right.
Indeed, the folks at metro Detroit's famous Livernois Motorsports & Engineering had a tough time trying to keep their hands off it, tuning a stock 2020 Ford Explorer ST to take advantage of a range of different fuel blends, essentially just to "see what it can do" with only factory components. Turns out it can do an awful lot.
Running 93-octane fuel, with nothing but an ECU recalibration, the Ford Explorer ST was made to put out 385 horsepower at the wheels in the hands of the metro Detroit tuner - about 480 crank horsepower, according to the shop's own parasitic loss estimate. But things got even more interesting when Livernois started exploring other fuels; on E30, which is a blend of 30 percent ethanol and 70 percent gasoline, Livernois Motorsports & Engineering measured a peak 425 wheel horsepower - about 530 crank.
On E40, the shop achieved a whopping 450 horsepower at the wheels, or roughly 565 crank horsepower. That's well over double the stock Ford Focus ST horsepower figure, and nearly 200 horsepower per liter of displacement.
Mind you, there is a limit to what the factory twin-turbo 3.0L V6 in the new Ford Explorer ST can handle, and Livernois just about found it. While running E40 on the dynamometer, the shop observed that fuel pressure declined significantly somewhere near the middle of the RPM range, meaning that at the least, fuel system upgrades are advisable for anyone who wants to run their calibration with a higher-ethanol-content fuel.
But Livernois is already looking at designing some upgraded fueling system components for the Explorer ST to handle its higher demand for fuel on E40 and similar fuels, they say. Get those checkbooks ready.