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Closer Look at the New Explorer’s Towing Capacity

Redesigned for 2020 but can it pull more than the competitors?

The 2020 Ford Explorer introduces the sixth generation of this mid-size SUV. While the Explorer’s new platform was designed to provide sportier performance, the popular utility vehicle is still built for hard work, including trailer towing.

What is the new Explorer’s Towing Capacity?

Ford says the 2020 Explorer SUV can tow as much as 5,600 lb (2,540 kg) when equipped with an optional Class III trailer towing package. So equipped, the Explorer has more towing capacity than most of its competitors, as you’ll read below. That package is available with all the Ford Explorer’s engine options.

Those powertrains include a 2.3L turbo four-cylinder engine that makes 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque; a gas-electric hybrid with 318 hp and 336 lb-ft; and, in Platinum trim, a 3.0L turbo V6 that’s good for 365 hp and 380 lb-ft.

How much can the 400-hp Explorer ST pull?

2020 Ford Explorer ST amee reehal
Visually, there’s nothing sleeper about the 2020 Explorer ST, flossing a healthy dose of blacked-out features. And it can tow, too – up to 5,600 pounds. Photo: Amee Reehal

The sporty Ford Explorer ST, which we reviewed here, comes standard with the trailer towing package, as well as a more powerful version of the turbo V6 that makes 400 hp and 415 lb-ft.

All Explorer variants use a 10-speed transmission and come standard with four-wheel drive.

Towing Capacity Comparison: Ford Explorer vs the competition

ModelTowing Capacity
Ford Explorer5,600 lb
Toyota Highlander5,000 lb
Honda Pilot5,000 lb
Nissan Pathfinder6,000 lb
Subaru Ascent5,000 lb
Kia Telluride5,000 lb
Hyundai Palisade5,000 lb
Chevrolet Traverse5,000 lb
Dodge Durango8,700 lb
Volkswagen Atlas5,000 lb
Mazda CX-93,500 lb

Dodge’s Durango boasts class-leading towing capacity, at a maximum of 8,700 lb (3,946 kg).

The Nissan Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 lb (2,722 kg).

The Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas mid-size SUVs can tow up to 5,000 lb (2,268 kg).

The Mazda CX-9 is a mid-size SUV that will tow a maximum of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg).

What factors can affect towing capacity?

If you are buying a mid-size SUV for towing, verify whether the towing maximum applies to the base model. In many SUVs, you have to buy an optional towing package to get the maximum capacity. This often includes a trailer hitch, wiring for the trailer’s lights and electric brakes (if it has them), and extra radiators for the engine oil and/or transmission fluid to help prevent overheating.

Chris Chase
Chris has been writing professionally about cars since 2004, in print and online. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and two feline tyrants. In rare quiet moments, he can be found travelling or playing one of his way-too-many guitars. Chris is also a journalist member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).