Ford Explorer Towing Capacity [2000-2021]

The Ford Explorer has, since its production, been a fan-favorite SUV, owing to its rugged look and family-friendly versatility. Above all that, the Ford Explorer has a substantial towing capacity, a feature that’s often overlooked by many.

Yes. Did you know that your Ford Explorer could tow around a formidable amount of weight for your camping? If you did, then did you know the exact weight your SUV could handle?

If you seek to know the towing capacity of your 2000-2021 Ford Explorer, then here’s the information you need.

Ford Explorer Overview

The Ford Explorer SUV was first introduced in 1990 for the 1991 model year. Since then, it has had pretty decent towing capacity, but of course, nowhere compared to models like the Ford F-series. However, the newer models from 2000 seem to have better pulling capacities than the 90’s models, obviously because of an improvement in manufacturing techniques. 

The Ford Explorer models between 2000 and 2021 had numerous four, six, and eight-cylinder engine choices. 8-cylinder engines give the highest towing capacities, owing to their superior strength over the other two variants. However, 6-cylinder models came in with respectable numbers and were the most popular throughout the years. With that being said, the engine types were the biggest causes of variation in towing capacities within these years.

Again, these SUVs had different axle ratios and configurations, which worked to bring out minor differences in towing capacities. Each Ford Explorer also comes with its trim level for a well-rounded towing capability. Other factors come into play, but it’s essential to know that you’ll need towing packages to achieve maximum towing figures. 

Let’s look into the 2000-2021 Ford Explorer towing capacity. Shall we?

2020 – 2021 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing Capacity (lbs)Note
2020RWD2.3L EcoBoost I43.583000 - 5300
20204WD2.3L EcoBoost I43.583000 - 5300
20204WD3.0L EcoBoost V63.313000Platinum model only/ Class III Trailer Tow Package
20204WD3.0L EcoBoost V63.585600ST model only/ Class III Trailer Tow Package
20204WD3.3L Ti-VCT V63.733000 - 5600Fleet only
2020RWD3.3L HEV V63.583000 - 5000
20204WD3.3L HEV V63.733000 - 5000
2021RWD2.3L EcoBoost I43.583000 - 5300
20214WD2.3L EcoBoost I43.583000 - 5300
20214WD3.0L EcoBoost V63.315600Platinum model only/ Class III Trailer Tow Package
20214WD3.0L EcoBoost V63.585600ST model only/ Class III Trailer Tow Package
20214WD3.3L Ti-VCT V63.583000 - 5600Fleet only
2021RWD3.3L HEV V63.583000 - 5000
20214WD3.3L HEV V63.733000 - 5000

We have four different engines for the 2000-2001 Ford Explorer. These are the;

  • 2.3L EcoBoost l4
  • 3.0L EcoBoost V6
  • 3.3L Ti-VCT V6
  • 3.3L HEV V6

The overall maximum towing capacity was around 3,000-5,600 pounds. We also have different axle ratios for some engines but bring about no difference in towing capacities. The 2.3L engine came with both the 4WD and RWD models, but their overall towing capacity remained constant for both. The other engine models came with either of the two drive trains.

2017 – 2019 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing Capacity (lbs)Note
20172.3L EcoBoost I43.362000 - 3000
20172.3L EcoBoost I43.513000
20173.5L V63.392000 - 5000
20173.5L V63.652000 - 5000
20173.5L EcoBoost V63.165000
20182.3L EcoBoost I43.362000 - 3000
20182.3L EcoBoost I43.513000
20183.5L V63.392000 - 5000
20183.5L V63.652000 - 5000
20183.5L EcoBoost V63.165000Sport/Platinum series only. Requires optional Class III Trailer Tow Package and weight-distribution hitch.
20192.3L EcoBoost I43.362000 - 3000
20192.3L EcoBoost I43.513000
20193.5L V63.392000 - 5000
20193.5L V63.652000 - 5000
20193.5L EcoBoost V63.165000Class III Trailer Tow Package standard on Soprt/Platinum series only. Requires weight-distribution hitch.

We had three engines on the Ford Explorers between 2017 and 2019. They were;

  • 2.3L EcoBoost l4
  • 3.5L V6
  • 3.5L EcoBoost V6

These Ford Explorers had an average towing capacity of 2,000-5,000 pounds. The V6 engines recorded the highest towing capacity. 

2016 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearEngineMax. Towing Capacity (lbs)
20162.3L EcoBoost I-43000
20163.5L Ti-VCT V65000
20163.5L EcoBoost V65000

The year 2016 was slightly different from the successive years in the engine configurations of the Ford Explorer. It was the last time we had a 2.0L l4 EcoBoost engine in the Ford Explorer. Apart from that, we also had two more engines, the 3.5L V6, and 3.5L V6 EcoBoost. Within that year, we had a maximum towing average of 2,000-5,000lbs. Moreover, we had both FWD and 4WD models, but that didn’t bring out any differences in towing capacities.

2013 – 2015 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)Note
20132.0L EcoBoost I43.362000
20132.0L EcoBoost I43.512000
20133.5L V63.392000
20133.5L V63.652000
20133.5L V63.395000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20133.5L V63.685000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20133.5L EcoBoost V63.162000
20133.5L EcoBoost V63.165000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20142.0L EcoBoost I43.362000
20142.0L EcoBoost I43.512000
20143.5L V63.392000
20143.5L V63.395000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20143.5L V63.652000
20143.5L V63.655000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20143.5L EcoBoost V63.162000
20143.5L EcoBoost V63.165000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20152.0L EcoBoost I43.362000
20152.0L EcoBoost I43.512000
20153.5L V63.392000
20153.5L V63.395000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20153.5L V63.652000
20153.5L V63.655000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20153.5L EcoBoost V63.162000
20153.5L EcoBoost V63.165000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.

The Ford Explorer models made between 2013 and 2015 were similar to 2016 in terms of engine configuration. We only had three engines, namely;

  • 2.0L l4 EcoBoost
  • 3.5L V6
  • 3.5L V6 EcoBoost

The maximum towing capacities of the Ford Explorer models between these years were approximately 2,000-5,000 pounds and nothing in between that. There were slight variations in the GCWR and drive ratios, which brought about some notable changes in the towing capacities.

2012 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)Note
20122.0L EcoBoost I43.662000
20122.0L EcoBoost I43.512000
20123.5L V63.162000
20123.5L V63.165000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20123.5L V63.392000
20123.5L V63.395000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.

We had two engine configurations in the 2012 Ford Explorer SUV, the 2.0L l4 and 3.5L V6. Their maximum towing capacities ranged between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds. Again, unlike most years, we didn’t have anything between the 2,000 and 5,000lb mark.

The smaller 2.0L engine had a lower towing capacity of 2000 pounds. On the other hand, the larger 3.5L came with either 2,000 or 5,000 pounds of max tow capacity. Again the higher-rated models had notably higher GCWR values than their counterparts.

2011 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)Note
20113.5L V63.162000
20113.5L V63.165000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.
20113.5L V63.392000
20113.5L V63.395000Requires optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package and weight-distributing hitch.

There was only one engine model for the 2011 Ford Explorer. It was a 3.5L V6 and offered an average towing capacity of 2,000-5,000lbs. The difference in towing capabilities was primarily brought about by the different GCWR numbers. Higher GCWR resulted in higher towing capacity; for this case, it was 5,000 pounds. Lower GCWR values came with the 2,000 option.

2010 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)Note
20102WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553500
20102WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735375
20104WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553500
20104WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553500
20104WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735205
20104WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557115Deduct 500lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
2010AWD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557115Deduct 500lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control

We had two types of engines in 2010’s Ford Explorer: 4.0L SOHC V6 and 4.6L SOHC V6. The 4.6L has a higher towing capacity than the 4.0L, owing to its larger size. And, the 4.6L V6 comes at 3,500-7,115 pounds, while the 4.0L V6 has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500-5,375lbs. 

2009 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)Note
20092WD Class II4.0L SOHC SEFI V63.553500
20092WD Class II4.6L SOHC SEFI V83.553500
20094WD Class II4.0L SOHC SEFI V63.553500
20094WD Class II4.6L SOHC SEFI V83.553500
2009AWD Class II4.0L SOHC SEFI V63.553500
2009AWD Class II4.6L SOHC SEFI V83.553500
20092WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC SEFI V63.735375
20092WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC SEFI V83.557285Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20094WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC SEFI V63.735205
20094WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC SEFI V83.557115Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
2009AWD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC SEFI V63.735000
2009AWD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC SEFI V83.557115Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control

The 2009 Ford Explorer comes with two engines; the 4.0L SOHC V6 and the 4.6L V8. The total maximum towing capacity of the ford explorer 2009 model ranges from 3,500 to 7,285 pounds. The larger-sized 4.6L engines record the higher towing capabilities. 

When engaging Auxiliary Climate Control, you need to deduct 500lbs from the maximum towing capacity.

2006 – 2008 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)Note
20062WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553110
20062WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553020
20064WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553230
20064WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553140
20062WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735390
20062WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557300Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20064WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735210
20064WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557120Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20072WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553500
20072WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553500
20074WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553500
20074WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553500
20072WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735370
20072WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557290Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20074WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735200
20074WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557115Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20082WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553500
20082WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553500
20084WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553500
20084WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553500
20082WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735395
20082WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557310Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20084WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735225
20084WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.557130Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control

 In 2008, we had two engine types on the Ford Explorers. These included the 4.0L V6 and the 4.6L V8. Their total maximum towing capacities ranged between 3,500 and 7,310 pounds. As you would expect, the larger-sized 4.6L V8 had higher values than the 4.0L V6. The former had a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 to 7,310 pounds. On the other hand, the 4.0L came in at 3,500 to 5,395 pounds.

2003 – 2005 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs) 
20032WD 2-DoorAT 4.0L V6All5000
20032WD 2-DoorMT 4.0L V6All2940
20034WD 2-DoorAT 4.0L V6All4820
20034WD 2-DoorMT 4.0L V6All2760
20032WD 4-DoorAT 4.0L V6All5260
20032WD 4-DoorMT 4.0L V6All2700
20034WD 4-DoorAT 4.0L V6All5060
20034WD 4-DoorMT 4.0L V6All2480
20042WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6All5300
20044WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6All5080
20042WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553260
20042WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553260
20044WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553400
20044WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553420
2004AWD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553400
2004AWD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553420
20042WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735780
20042WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.737140Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20044WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735380
20044WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.737000Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
2004AWD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735380
2004AWD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.737000Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20052WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6All5300Requires aftermarket-installed hitch over 3500lbs.
20054WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6All5080Requires aftermarket-installed hitch over 3500lbs.
20052WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553240
20052WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553260
20054WD Class II4.0L SOHC V63.553380
20054WD Class II4.6L SOHC V83.553400
20052WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735760
20052WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.737140Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control
20054WD Class III/IV4.0L SOHC V63.735380
20054WD Class III/IV4.6L SOHC V83.737000Deduct 500 lbs. with Auxiliary Climate Control

Like the successive models, the 2003 to 2005 Ford Explorers had two engine types; the 4.0L V6 and the 4.6L V8. The overall towing capacity for the 4.6L ranged between 3,260 to 7,160 pounds. The 4.0L had an average towing capacity of 3,260 to 5,780 pounds. 

2002 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity 

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)
20022WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.553500
20022WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.735940
20022WD 4-Door4.6L SOHC V8 (AT)3.553500
20022WD 4-Door4.6L SOHC V8 (AT)3.737300
20022WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)3.732700
20024WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.553500
20024WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.735500
20024WD 4-Door4.6L SOHC V8 (AT)3.553500
20024WD 4-Door4.6L SOHC V8 (AT)3.737000
20024WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)3.732500
20022WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All5120
20022WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All3060
20024WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All4880
20024WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All2840
20022WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All5300
20022WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All2740
20024WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All5040
20024WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All2480

In 2002, the towing capacity was primarily influenced by whether your Ford Explorer was an automatic or manual transmission model. Again, we had two engine types; the 4.0LV6 and the 4.6L V8. The overall towing capacity of the Automatic Transmission Ford Explorers was 3,500 to 7,300 pounds. The 4.6L had a higher towing capacity than the 4.0L. 

The Manual Transmission Ford Explores had only one engine type; the 4.0L V6. Its overall towing capacity is 2,500 to 2,700 pounds.

2001 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity (lbs)
20012WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V63.554940
20012WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V63.735940
20012WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V64.105940
20012WD 4-Door5.0L V83.555820
20012WD 4-Door5.0L V83.736820
20014WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V63.554740
20014WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V63.735740
20014WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V64.105740
20014WD 4-Door5.0L V83.555620
20014WD 4-Door5.0L V83.736620
20012WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All5140
20012WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All3080
20014WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All4940
20014WD Sport4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All2880
20012WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All5300
20012WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All2740
20014WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)All5080
20014WD Sport Trac4.0L SOHC V6 (MT)All2520

The 2001 Ford Explorer Model had two engine types; the 4.0L V6 and the 5.0L V8. These two had the best towing specs of all the model years. The 4.0L provided 4,740-5,940lbs of towing capacity. The 5.0L recorded 5,620-6,820lbs of towing capacity.

2000 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity

YearTypeEngineAxle RatioMax. Towing capacity
20002WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)3.554160
20002WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)3.735160
20002WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.273640
20002WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.554640
20002WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.735140
20002WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.272200
20002WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.733200
20004WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)3.734960
20004WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)4.104960
20004WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.273440
20004WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.554440
20004WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.734940
20004WD 2-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)4.104940
20004WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.272000
20004WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.552500
20004WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.733000
20004WD 2-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)4.103000
20002WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)3.553960
20002WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)3.734960
20002WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.554940
20002WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.735940
20002WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)4.105940
20002WD 4-Door5.0L V8 (AT)3.555820
20002WD 4-Door5.0L V8 (AT)3.736820
20002WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.272000
20002WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.733000
20004WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (AT)3.734760
20004WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.554740
20004WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)3.735740
20004WD 4-Door4.0L SOHC V6 (AT)4.105740
20004WD 4-Door5.0L V8 (AT)3.555620
20004WD 4-Door5.0L V8 (AT)3.736620
20004WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.552300
20004WD 4-Door4.0L OHV V6 (MT)3.732800

The Ford Explorers in 2000 model had their towing capacities influenced by their mode of transmission. Moreover, we had four engine types that worked to strike minor differences in the towing capacities. The engine types included the;

  • 2.5L l4
  • 3.0L V6
  • 4.0L V6
  • 5.0L V8 (not available for manual transmission)

The Automatic Transmission engine models offered higher towing capacities than the Manual engine variants. They had figures between 3,440 and 6,280 pounds, with 5.0L giving the highest numbers.

On the other hand, the Manual Transmission engine models offered significantly lower towing capacities. Their ranges were between 2,000 and 3,200 pounds.

Conclusion

The Ford Explorer is a popular SUV by all standards. The fact that it comes with the ability to tow goods along is a great plus. However, you can’t expect extremely high towing capacities as the car isn’t explicitly made for towing, like in Ram trucks. 

To max out the towing capabilities of the 2000-2021 Ford Explorer trucks, you need to install the essential towing packages. Happy towing!

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