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
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.
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
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?
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:
- 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:
- 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?
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.
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.