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2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid signals the start of a big electrified push

On Sunday, Cadillac announced at the Detroit Auto Show that its crossover and SUV lineup will be expanding with something new: the company's first EV.

Last year, the luxury carmaker denied it was behind the times, instead, it was saying it wasn't time for electric vehicles, and their delay in turning to all-electric models shows they are working towards better powertrain designs. Ford said the hybrid can tug up to 5,000 pounds (down just 600 pounds from the Explorer's max tow rating of 5,600 pounds), which is 1,500 pounds more than a Highlander Hybrid can haul.

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The full Explorer family, which follows on the heels of the hot-selling new Expedition, goes on sale this summer. Ford will offer both ST Street Pack and ST Track Pack upgrades, with 21-inch aluminum wheels and red-painted brake calipers, and differing levels of performance brakes. Underneath, the Explorer ST is fitted with tauter suspension than the standard model. While already more honed than a regular Explorer, an available Sport mode turns up the wick even more, with even quicker transmission responses to automatic or paddle-initiated gearswaps, more aggressive throttle response, sportier steering, and a deeper, throatier sound.

There are visual changes both inside and out for the ST, including a black mesh grille insert, liftgate applique, lower bodyside details, roof-rack side rails, and skid plate elements.

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Inside, a 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster is standard. All-wheel drive will be optional on the Explorer hybrid.

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid will make 318 horsepower and is projected to be rated for 500 miles of range by the EPA. On the inside, drivers are greeted by a flat-bottom steering wheel and leather bucket seats. A specially designed liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery is built into the Explorer chassis below the second-row seats to preserve cargo and passenger space, unlike previous hybrid vehicles.

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Offered only Limited trim initially, the hybrid model will come standard with Ford's suite of active safety tech, leather upholstery, first- and second-row heated seats, and a 14-speaker B&O audio system.

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