Ford Explorer Towing Capacity (All Years 1991-2023)

The Explorer was introduced into Ford’s lineup as an SUV in 2001 and remains popular today. Ford vehicles are known for their versatility and for having the features consumers expect from today’s SUVs, including towing. But what is the towing capacity of a Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer has a towing capacity of 1,800 to 7,300 pounds depending on the configuration, with most recent model years having a 5,000 to 5,600 lb max tow capacity.

There’s a bit more to know about Ford Explorer towing capabilities (also referred to as tow ratings or tow limits) which we’ll cover in today’s guide.

Ford Explorer Towing Capacity By Year

what is the towing capacity of a ford explorer
How much weight can a Ford Explorer tow is up to 7,300 lbs.

As we covered earlier, the current Ford Explorer models can tow a maximum of 5,600 lbs when properly equipped.

The Explorer has been in production from 1991 through the present. We’ve listed out the maximum tow capacity by year below for reference.

Note that for each model year, there are many variables that affect the total towing capability of each vehicle year, so we recommend checking your specific Explorer model year and trim level in the links below for an in-depth guide and to get the most accurate information for that year.

Here’s the maximum Ford Explorer towing capacity by year:

2023 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,600 pounds

2022 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,600 pounds

2021 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,600 pounds

2020 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,600 pounds

2019 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2018 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2017 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2016 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2015 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2014 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2013 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2012 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2011 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

2010 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,155 pounds

2009 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,285 pounds

2008 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,130 pounds

2007 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,290 pounds

2006 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,300 pounds

2005 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,140 pounds

2004 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,140 pounds

2003 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,160 pounds

2002 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 7,300 pounds

2001 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 6,820 pounds

2000 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 6,820 pounds

1999 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 6,740 pounds

1998 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 6,700 pounds

1997 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 6,700 pounds

1996 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 6,700 pounds

1995 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,000 pounds

1994 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,200 pounds

1993 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,400 pounds

1992 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 3,100 pounds

1991 Ford Explorer Tow Capacity: 5,500 pounds

You can also read our guide on what makes a vehicle towing capacity to learn all the aspects that go into it.

Here’s a video showing the Ford Explorer being put to a real-world towing test:

Ford Explorer Braked Vs. Unbraked Towing Capacity

All vehicles have different towing capacities based on whether or not you’re towing a trailer that has trailer brakes installed.

Trailer brakes allow the trailer to stop faster than if only the vehicle is using its brakes, allowing the vehicle to tow more weight, so braked towing capacity will always be higher than unbraked towing capacity.

Ford Explorer Braked Towing Capacity: 2,000 – 6,740 lbs.

Ford Explorer Unbraked Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs.

Ford Explorer Towing Capacity Factors

There are a few factors that affect the Ford Explorer tow capacity.

Regular Vs Hybrid

The gas-powered Explorer can generally tow more than the hybrid version.

Engine Size

Some years and trim levels of Ford Explorers had a smaller engine size, which obviously limited the towing capacity.

For example, some of the 2019 Explorers had a 2.3L engine option which could only tow 2,000 pounds.

Number of Passengers

A big factor in calculating your vehicle’s towing capacity is how many passengers you’re carrying, which directly calculates into the vehicle’s GCWR.

This is true of all vehicles, not just the Ford Explorer, so always take into consideration the total load of your passengers and gear in addition to what you’re towing.

Ford Explorer Engine Specs

The current Explorer model year has three engine options: two gas engines and a hybrid engine.

2.3 Liter Turbo 4-Cylinder

The Base, XLT, and Limited Explorers have a Turbocharged 2.3 Liter 4-Cylinder engine, which has 300 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft of torque with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

This engine can pull up to 5,300 pounds.

3.0 Liter Twin Turbo V6

The King Ranch, Platinum, and XT models have a Twin-Turbocharged 3.0 Liter V6 engine, which has 400 horsepower and 415 lb.-ft of torque with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

This engine can pull up to 5,600 pounds.

3.3 Liter Hybrid Engine

The Limited Hybrid and Platinum Hybrid models have a 3.3L hybrid engine, which has 318 horsepower and 322 lb.-ft of torque with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

This engine can pull up to 5,000 pounds if the Explorer is a hybrid model.

Ford Explorer Tow Packages

ford explorer silver
How much can a Ford Explorer tow is up to 5,000 pounds.

CAP: How much can a Ford Explorer tow is up to 7,300 pounds.

Does The Ford Explorer Have A Tow Package?

Ford offers a package called the Trailer Tow Package – Class IV that is an option on some trims, and standard on the Timberline.

The Ford Explorer towing package includes the following:

  • Class IV frame-mounted hitch
  • Trailer connections (wiring harness)

Ford does not specify whether the wiring harness is a 4-pin or 7-pin connector, but we’d assume it’s a 7-pin given the Explorer’s tow rating.

Can You Install A Trailer Hitch On a Ford Explorer?

rear view of ford explorer
How much weight can a Ford Explorer pull is 5,000 pounds.

If you plan on towing anything with your Ford Explorer, you’ll need a tow hitch and wiring harness.

Depending on what you’re towing, you’re going to need a ball mount (aka a trailer ball hitch) so you can attach items for towing.

Make sure to get the right trailer ball size that matches your hitch and trailer.

Ford Explorer Tow Hitch

Trailer hitches come in different hitch classes, which are rated for different vehicle sizes and weight limits.

The Ford Explorer uses a Class 3 or Class 4 hitch.

Here’s a great option for a Ford Explorer trailer hitch:

Draw-Tite 76034 Class 3 Trailer Hitch, 2 Inch Receiver, Black, Compatible with 2011-2019 Ford Explorer
  • Designed to complement today's trucks, vans and Sport utility vehicles, attach directly to the frame with no drilling or welding necessary
  • 2 inch square receiver tube opening and solid all-welded Construction for maximum strength and durability
  • The A-Coat base with Black powder coat finish is resistant to adverse weather conditions and corrosion, ensures an attractive appearance for years to come
  • Computer-aided design and fatigue stress tested to ensure perfect fit and top towing performance, backed by draw-tite's nationwide limited lifetime warranty
  • Rated at 675/4, 500 lbs. (Tw/GTW) weight carrying (WC) and 500/5, 000 lbs. (Tw/GTW) weight distributing (WD), always consult your vehicle's Owner's manual for actual weight capacities.Crosstube is exposed below the bumper

Here’s a great ball mount option so you can hook up different types of trailers for towing with your Explorer:

CURT 45148 Trailer Hitch Mount, 2-Inch Ball, Pin, Fits 1-1/4-In Receiver, 3,500 lbs, 3-1/4" Drop, GLOSS BLACK POWDER COAT
  • DEPENDABLE STRENGTH. Rated to tow 3,500 pounds gross trailer weight and 350 pounds tongue weight, this ball hitch offers dependability for your towing setup (weight capacity may change if trailer ball is removed).Fit Type: Universal Fit
  • VERSATILE USE. This trailer hitch ball mount comes with a 1-1/4-inch shank to fit virtually any industry-standard 1-1/4-inch receiver. The ball mount has a 3-1/4-inch drop, 2-inch diameter ball, 1/2-inch hitch pin hole and 7-1/4-inch overall length
  • READY TO TOW. Hitching up your trailer is easy with this ready-to-use trailer hitch ball mount. It comes with a pre-attached tow ball for ready coupling and a trailer hitch pin to securely mount onto your hitch receiver
  • CORROSION-RESISTANT. For long-lasting use, this ball hitch is protected with a durable black powder coat finish, and the trailer ball has a polished chrome plating. These finishes resist damage from rain, dirt, road salt and other corrosive threats
  • EASY TO INSTALL. To install the trailer hitch ball mount on your vehicle, simply insert the shank into your vehicle's 1-1/4-inch hitch receiver. The rounded shank makes installation easy

Ford Explorer Tow Hitch Installation

If you’re considering having a tow hitch added to your Explorer, expect to pay between $100 and $200 to have a tow package professionally installed (excluding the cost of the tow hitch and wiring harness).

If you’re handy and looking to save money, you can install the trailer hitch and wiring harness yourself.

Always follow the manufacturer’s directions and use proper safety precautions.

Here’s a great video walkthrough on a Ford Explorer trailer hitch installation:

Hitch Receiver Vs Rear Step Bumper Towing

Some vehicles allow for bumper towing, which means you can mount a tow hitch ball directly on the bumper instead of installing a tow hitch to the vehicle’s frame.

Can I Bumper Tow With A Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer does not allow for bumper towing, so you’ll need to use a frame-mounted hitch.

How Do I Know If My Ford Explorer Has A Tow Package?

Ford Explorer towing a travel trailer
The Ford Explorer can tow up to 7,300  pounds.

You can start by looking under the rear bumper of your Explorer to see if you notice a trailer hitch or trailer ball.

That will give you a good indication of if you have a tow hitch already installed on your Explorer.

Another way to research this is by checking the paperwork that came with your vehicle or taking it to a local dealer to see what’s installed.

Make sure to have your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) handy if you call the dealer so they can look up the exact specs and whether or not your vehicle has any towing packages or features installed on it.

Data Accuracy

We’ve gathered all data represented here from the official Ford Explorer Owner’s Manuals on Ford’s site and have checked all data thoroughly for accuracy.

Having said that, we still recommend you refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual yourself before towing with a 2023 Ford Explorer.

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