The Ford Explorer is a best-selling SUV excellent for towing and driving in all types of terrains. It guarantees superior handling and exceptional power, providing a splendid driving experience.
You must know the towing capacity of the different Ford Explorer models to help you make a more informed buying decision.
It’s important to know that your engine setup significantly determines your car’s tow capacity.
Newer models come with a hybrid SUV option that maintains the power provided and fuel economy. Here is how much each Ford Explorer generation can tow.
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How Much Can Ford Explorers Tow?
When properly equipped, your Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds. The 4- and 6-cylinder engines can tow between 2,000 to 5,000 lbs. while 8-cylinder engines range between 3,500 to 7,100 lbs. Older models have slightly lower towing capacities because of the different options offered.
Here is an overview of critical information to help you understand the Ford Explorer better;
There were different engine options used in Explorer models from 2000-2021, ranging from 4-, 6- to 8-cylinder engines. Equipping an 8-cylinder engine guaranteed the best pull, while the 6-cylinder became the most popular.
The Ford Explorer offered three axle configurations:
- an RWD,
- and 4WD option.
These configurations had little effect on the weight your Explorer could tow.
The Ford Explorer’s towing capacity was standard in almost all generations. The 4- and 6-cylinder engines ranged between 2,000 to 5,000 lbs. while 8-cylinder engines ranged between 3,500 to 7,100 lbs.
Here is how much the different generations of the Ford Explorer can tow;
2020 – Present
The 2020 and 2021 models were available in four different engine configurations. The towing capacity of the various engines did not vary by much.
They ranged between 3,000 to 5,600 lbs.
The gross combined weight rating was 7,700 to 10,800 pounds.
2.3L EcoBoost 14
This engine had a 3.58 axle ratio and rear- and front-wheel drive configuration options.
Both options had a 7,700 and 10,000 GCWR option with maximum tow capacities of 3,000 and 5,300 pounds.
3.0L EcoBoost V6
There were two-axle options available, 3.31 and 3.58. with a 4WD configuration.
The maximum weight you can tow with this engine is 5,600 pounds.
3.3L Ti-VCT V6
This engine was available in a 3.58-axle ratio, with a GCWR of 10,600 pounds.
Its maximum tow capacity is 5,600 pounds with the 4WD transmission.
3.3L HEV V6
Axle ratios available with this engine option include the 3.58 and 3.73 variants. You get a 5,000 pounds maximum tow capacity from the 3.58 – RWD configurations and the 3.73 – 4WD setting.
2019 – 2017
The towing capacity in models between 2017 and 2019 was between 2,00 and 5,000 pounds. Six-cylinder engine options guaranteed the highest capacity, while there were three engine options available.
These options included two six-cylinder engines and one four-cylinder engine, and here are their capacities;
2.3L EcoBoost 14
The 2.3L EcoBoost engine in the Ford Explorer was available in a 4WD and FWD configuration.
The 3.6 final drive ratio setting had a maximum tow capacity of 2,000 pounds, while the 3.51 option achieved 3,000 pounds.
This engine option was available in four axle configurations, 3,39, 3.65, 3.39, and 3.65.
The maximum loaded trailer weight of the first two is 2,000 pounds, while the last two have a 5,000 pounds towing capacity.
3.5L EcoBoost V6
The 3.16 axle ratio was the only option available with the 3.5L V6 engine, and its maximum tow capacity was 5,000 pounds.
2016 – 2013
Most of the features available in the 2016 Explorer models were from previous units.
The primary difference was the 4-cylinder engine getting used as a 2.0L engine instead of 2.3L. The maximum capacity you can tow with these models ranges between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds, with the GCWR ranging between 6,900 to 10,400 pounds.
Some of these Ford Explorers had some problems (read more).
2.0L 14 EcoBoost
The 2.0L 14 EcoBoost engine was available in an FWD and 4WD configuration, offering a maximum loaded trailer weight of 3,000 pounds.
The final drive ratio options available with the 3.5L V6 engine are 3.39, 3.65, 3.39, and 3.65.
The maximum tow capacity of the 3.39 and 3.65 options is 2,000 pounds, and 5,000 pounds for the 3.39 and 3.65.
3.5 L V6 EcoBoost
The 3.16 axle ratio in the 3.5L V6 engine guarantees a maximum trailer weight of 5,000 pounds (4WD).
You only had two engine configurations in the 2012 Ford Explorer models. These engines were the 2.0L and the 3.5L options but lacked the EcoBoost addition.
The 2.0L engine had a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds, while the 3.5L option had a 5,000-pound limit.
Only one engine was available in the 2100 Ford Explorer, the 3.5L V6 option.
Depending on your configuration, the maximum towing capacity was between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds.
Check also: How big a trailer is needed to carry a car?
2010 – 2009
The last year to feature the 4.0L and 4.6L engines on the Ford Explorer was 2010.
These engine options guaranteed the highest towing capacities, ranging between 3,500 to 7115 pounds. The 4.0L engine had a maximum tow capacity of 5,375 pounds, while the 4.6L variant had 7,115 pounds.
We have an article here with prices on used Ford Explorers.
2008 – 2006
The maximum trailer capacity for Explorers under this generation was between 3,500 and 7,310 pounds with the 4.6L engine.
The 4.0L engine provided a maximum tow capacity of 5,395 pounds.
2005 – 2003
Units manufactured between 2003 and 2005 had a maximum towing capacity of 7,160 pounds with a 4.6L engine.
The maximum tow capacity for the 4.0L engine is 5,780 pounds, with a slight difference in the FWD, 4X4, and AWD configurations.
2002 – 2000
The 2001 and 2002 Explorer models had two engine options available.
The 4.6L engine had a maximum tow capacity of 7,300 pounds, while the 4.0L option had 5,940 pounds.
Automatic transmission vehicles on the 2,000 models had a maximum loaded trailer weight of 6,820 pounds with a 5.0L engine. Manual transmissions had a maximum tow capacity of 3,200 pounds, significantly lower than their alternative.
We still see some of these older models on the road which goes to tell that the Ford Explorer models last a long time.
What Ford Explorer Features Make It Ideal for Towing?
AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
One feature of the Ford Explorer that makes it the ideal towing SUV is the AdvanceTrac with RSC addition.
This system monitors vehicle stability using sensors and improves vehicle control on challenging terrains like snow, gravel, or wet pavement. It ensures your Explorer has enough power, strength, and traction to drive under all conditions.
AdvanceTrac also proves effective in regaining vehicle control in case of understeering, wheel slippage, and oversteering.
The Roll Stability Control addition works to monitor your car, adding extra protection through automatic braking and reducing vehicle power.
Towing and Trailer Sway Control
The towing and trailer sway control is another feature contributing to the safety and convenience of the Ford Explorer. It complements the AdvanceTrac system and guarantees more stability and control when towing heavy loads.
The system can brake automatically and adjust engine power depending on your driving pattern and load capacity.
Terrain Management System
Ford Explorer models from 2020 have an advanced terrain management system in their configurations.
The system offers seven driving mode types, maximizing engine performance and power delivered.
You can find it in the 2WD and 4WD drivetrain options, enabling you to customize the power depending on the driving conditions. Switching between modes is as simple as turning a dial, and the 12.3-inch digital cluster guides you with animated graphics.
The technology featured on the Ford Explorer continues to evolve with newer models.
The 2021 Explorer is among the most technologically-equipped units.
These features include the Ford Co-Pilot360, which facilitates safe navigation, automatic emergency braking, intelligent adaptive cruise control, and a blind spot assistance system.
Parking in tight spaces is no longer challenging when you have the Ford Explorer.
This vehicle has an Active Park Assist function dedicated to helping navigate perpendicular or parallel parking.
The system informs the driver to shift to neutral after detecting the parking spot. Active Park Assist safely controls your car into the parking spot when in neutral.
Do You Need a Trailer Towing Package with the Ford Explorer?
You must install the Class III trailer towing package to achieve the maximum towing capacity.
With the trailer towing package, you can tow up to 5,600 pounds if you have a 3.3L Hybrid V6 engine.
The package includes an engine oil cooler, a Class III frame-mounted hitch, a seven-wire harness, and some trailer connectors.
You’ll find connecting all trailer lights with this package on your vehicle more manageable, which is why Ford recommends it for all towing units.
Which Explorer Model Is Best for Towing?
You can get the maximum towing capacity from a 3L EcoBoost V6 engine, 5,600 pounds.
Choosing the 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine will guarantee a towing capacity of 5,600 pounds. It would help to choose newer models with modern features like the towing package if you want an explorer towing.
Why You Should Avoid Exceeding the Towing Capacity on the Ford Explorer
You must understand that the Ford Explorer wasn’t meant for towing. The vehicle’s suspension, engine, and transmissions create the perfect comfortable setting for all passengers. Exceeding the towing capacity can lead to several problems, and they include;
· Transmission failure, which is expensive to repair
· Engine overheating is most likely to happen when climbing hills
· Rear suspension problems
· Body problems as the towbar can tear away if you tow more than allowed
· Steering complications, especially on high speeds
· ECU problems as it might assume something is wrong with your transmission or engine because of the excess weight
How Big a Boat Can a Ford Explorer Tow?
The Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,000 pounds, meaning you can tow most boats.
This weight is more than enough for the standard boat and trailer as most boats average 2,200 lbs. and the trailer is 1,200 lbs. Other boats the Explorer will find a breeze towing include a 25-foot sailboat and a 20-foot wakeboard boat.
How Big a Camper Can a Ford Explorer Tow?
Most Ford Explorer models can tow campers weighing as much as 5,000 pounds.
Newer models have a maximum towing capacity of 5,600 pounds, making the Explorer a practical SUV. It would help to note that you should include the camper’s and vehicle’s contents when confirming your weight.
Ford recommends not exceeding 10% of the hitch’s maximum capacity.