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Why The 2020 Ford Explorer ST Doesn’t Have A V8

And Will Buyers Care?

The 2020 Ford Explorer ST is the biggest, heaviest, and (ironically) the quickest ST model yet. To make this happen, the Explorer ST also had to be the most powerful, as well. Its 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque from an 3.0L EcoBoost V6 is enough to scoot the 4,701-pound Explorer ST from 0-60 in a “conservative” 5.5 seconds. That’s enough to out-pace the Dodge Durango R/T, Range Rover Sport HST, and Chevrolet Tahoe RST. All of these vehicles have seating capacity for seven or eight passengers.

The segment is otherwise milquetoast.

However, unlike the Dodge and the Chevrolet, the Ford went the boosted V6 route, instead of a more traditional naturally aspirated V8. It’s not like Ford doesn’t have a great eight-cylinder power unit, so we asked Bill Gubing, Global Chief Engineer of the 2020 Explorer, for the reasoning behind the decision.

“I don’t think anyone (shopping) in this class right now is saying ‘I want a V8,'” said Gubing. “We’re to the point of wanting it to be effortless, and fun.”

For an MSRP under $55,000, the 2020 Ford Explorer ST is the quickest three-row SUV for the money. However, for about $63,000, the 475 horsepower Dodge Durango SRT and its barking Hemi V8 take the speedy three-row SUV crown. It’s 0-60 time is officially clocked in at an incredible 4.7 seconds. It can also tow 8,700 pounds, or 3,100 pounds more than the Explorer. But, again, for less than $60,000, it’s the Explorer ST.

“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.”

Media driving impressions of the 2020 Ford Explorer ST are to be released on Thursday.

“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. But it’s not about the racing, it’s about having confidence and comfort behind the wheel.”

As for whether or not Gubing and his team have plans to shoehorn something like the 5.0L Coyote V8 into the engine bay of the all-new Ford Explorer, he explained that there isn’t anybody working on that at the moment. However he finished our Q&A session with saying “our engineers like to play.”

The Six Generations Of Ford Explorer

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.


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  1. It’s a great motor, but it would be better suited in the Edge ST or something like a Taurus SHO. The Explorer ST should be a V8, plain and simple. Look at its domestic competition, Dodge has both a 475hp and a 710hp V8 Durango, and Jeep has the 707hp V8 Trackhawk. Looking across the pond, you have SUVS like the BMW X5, Mercededs AMG GLE 63, Range Rover SVR, Jaguar F-PACE SVR, Porsche Cayenne Turbo….. all have a 500+hp V8. And all best the ST by a second or more 0-60 and 1/4 mile. And it’s not just the power or performance, it’s the sound and personality. A 5000 pound 4 wheel drive vehicle needs some bark.

    Yes they all cost more, but if someone is willing to spend $60,000 on an Explorer, I think they’d be willing to spend an extra $10,000 on a V8 Explorer, especially if it were the Shelby spec 5.2L supercharged. Or, what I’d really like to see Ford do is come out with a EcoBoost V8. I know that sounds odd, as the flagship 3.5L EcoBoost was a replacement for V8s, but since then they have replaced larger natural V6s with smaller EcoBoost v6s and larger natural I4s with smaller EcoBoost I4s. So why not come out with a smallish EcoBoost V8 to replace the 5.2L V8? I’m talking like a 4.0 V8 EcoBoost. Mercedes and Audi get bonkers power from their 4.0tt V8s, and they sound amazing compared to any V6. Stick it in vehicles like the Explorer ST, F-150 Raptor and GT supercar. Done, sales are through the roof.

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