Ford doesn't think Explorer ST buyers want a V-8

Those looking for a zippier full-size SUV won’t find a V-8 option in the 2020 Ford Explorer ST. In fact, the Explorer’s chief engineer said that he believes no one shopping the segment is actually interested in having the burble of a V-8 under the hood.

Bill Gubing, Global Chief Engineer of the 2020 Explorer, told Muscle Cars & Trucks in a report published Monday that buyers want to step on the gas and find effortless power. Gubing added Explorer ST customers were most concerned with having “no doubts that they’re going to beat the guy” coming up the on-ramp at the same time. Ford has a perfectly good V-8 engine that could have done the job, but the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 was tapped for this duty instead.

2020 Ford Explorer, 2019 Detroit auto show

2020 Ford Explorer, 2019 Detroit auto show

Efficiency also likely played a role. The twin-turbo V-6 will return an estimated 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 20 mpg combined. The Chevrolet Tahoe RST, with a 6.2-liter V-8, will muster 14/22/17 mpg, per EPA estimates, for example. Still, the Explorer ST will dust the Tahoe RST minus two cylinders. The twin-turbo V-6 produces 400 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, which muscles the 4,701-pound SUV from 0-60 mph in about 5.5 seconds.

2020 Ford Explorer ST

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Not only was Ford able to achieve the performance it wanted with the boosted V-6, but driving dynamics are improved, too. Gubing noted with less weight over the front (with a V-8 engine), “it makes the front end feel much lighter (and) zippier.” He noted customers driving the previous model will find the new Explorer ST feels like a racecar in comparison.

None of this is to say a V-8 won’t fit under the hood of the new Explorer. Gubing said while there’s no work going on with a V-8-powered Explorer, the engineering team does like to get creative from time to time. Perhaps Ford has a nifty SEMA concept prepared for the near future.

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