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Like most other automakers, Ford has a few hybrid options. But just because a car has a hybrid powertrain doesn’t make it economical. That mostly has to do with hybrid powertrains being more expensive than gas-powered engines, so drivers must put in a lot of miles to break even. That’s precisely the issue with the 2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid. Here’s a look at how many miles drivers will have to go for this Ford SUV to be worth it.

How the 2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid compares to the standard model

The 2023 Ford Explorer is a solid SUV, but the hybrid version leaves much to be desired. The base model starts at about $37,000, and one of the midsize SUV’s biggest issues is that the prices for its trims can grow very quickly. For example, the ST-Line is the third-cheapest trim, and it already costs $47,000, making it $10,000 more than the base model.

It’s even worse for the hybrid version. Ford reserves the hybrid powertrain for the higher trim levels. As a result, the Explorer Hybrid is expensive — the cheapest version starts at $53,000. That’s about $16,000 over the standard model.

However, that massive price gap means the Explorer Hybrid boasts many features the regular Explorer doesn’t have. For example, a navigation system, a keyless ignition feature, and adaptive cruise control are all standard on the Explorer Hybrid, while they’re options on the base model. Leather upholstery and heated seats are also standard, and the hybrid powertrain is more powerful.

The 2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid doesn’t even have great fuel economy

The 2023 Ford Explorer Hybrid packs a 3.3-liter V6 hybrid powertrain making 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. That’s marginally more potent than the standard engine — a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Consumers interested in hybrid vehicles care about fuel economy, an area where the Explorer falters.

That V6 hybrid powertrain gets 27 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined. In comparison, the standard engine gets 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. That difference shrinks if shoppers want all-wheel drive. AWD lowers the hybrid’s fuel economy to 23 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. It reduces the standard engine’s fuel economy to 20 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined.

Is the regular Explorer better than the hybrid overall?

Those are negligible differences in the SUV’s highway and combined fuel economies. There’s a bigger difference for city driving, but not by much. Edmunds estimates owners will spend $17,387 in five years for fuel for a standard Explorer and $15,468 in the same period for a hybrid version.

That’s a difference of only $1,919 over five years for fuel. Because the standard 2023 Explorer is $16,000 cheaper than the cheapest Explorer Hybrid, it could take over 40 years of driving to make up that purchase price difference. Therefore, shoppers wanting a good value should stick with the standard Explorer.


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