How fuel efficient is it really?
Nearly a decade ago, automakers such as Ford began to cut back on SUV output. Small cars like the Fiesta were the hopeful replacements. The reason for this? High gasoline prices and a general public wanting cheap alternatives during the Great Recession. While the Ford Explorer lived, it dropped its body-on-frame architecture for a unibody, car-based platform. Jump forward to last January at Detroit, when the new Explorer premiered and returned to its RWD setup. Why? Gas became cheap again and Americans didn't want small cars. A lot changed in just a few years and Ford responded (again). However, federally-imposed fuel regulations still exist, hence the need for the Explorer Hybrid. But is this more fuel efficient Explorer really efficient?
Although the EPA has yet to release official figures, Cars.com took a 2020 Explorer Hybrid on a road trip from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles, California and tracked its fuel use the entire time.
They manually kept tabs and compared these figures to those from the on-board computer, which claimed an overall fuel economy rating of 24.9 mpg. The drivers calculated 23.9 mpg. Figure about 24 mpg. Now, the EPA has already published estimates for the 2020 Explorer powered by the base 2.3-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost, which came to 23/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined. Obviously a direct real-world driving comparison will be necessary to know more specific figures, but it appears, for now, that the base Explorer and the hybrid will have very close fuel economy numbers. The hybrid begins at $52,270 while the base XLT carries a $36,675 starting price.
That's quite a spread if fuel economy is your main focus. There's also the optional 3.0-liter turbo V6, rated at 18/24/20 mpg, but that's to be expected for the most powerful available engine. At this point, all we can do is wait for official 2020 Explorer Hybrid EPA figures to be released for a proper comparison. But given Cars.com's findings, we honestly thought the new Explorer Hybrid would have performed a bit better.