What’s the Ford Explorer Towing Capacity – What Trailers and Campers Can it Safely Tow?

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How Much will a Ford Explorer Tow?

The maximum tow capacity of the 2022 Ford Explorer model, the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine option, to be more exact, is 5,600 lbs. 

The Ford Explorer 2022 is sold in various trims with different equipment components and amenities, axle ratios, and engines, which affect the SUV’s tow rating and efficacy. However, all offer a towing capacity of over 5,000 lbs.

This medium-sized crossover/SUV has undergone a complete overhaul since it was first released over 30 years ago, both exterior and interior-wise. Besides the obvious exterior changes, Ford has evamped the interior, enhanced the infotainment system, and remodeled the frame.

Below we’ll provide specifics on the actual towing limits for different models and engine configurations and details concerning special towing packages.

What Travel Trailer Size Can a Ford Explorer Pull?

What’s the Ford Explorer Towing Capacity – What Trailers and Campers Can it Safely Tow? 1

Each of the 2022 Ford Explorer models comes with several engine options and equipment, including standard and optional towing packages.

The level of equipment and type of engine determine the towing limits and, in effect, the type and size of the trailer the 2022 Ford Explorer can tow.

Depending on the engine type, the Ford Explorer’s towing capacity ranges between 5,000 lbs and 5,600 lbs.  

With this tow rating, the Ford Explorer can pull a variety of trailers meant for both light and heavy loads. The new generation of Ford Explorer models can easily tow jet ski/canoe trailers, a tow dolly, or a fishing boat trailer.

With the right equipment and engine, the Ford Explorer can also tow heavier and larger trailers such as A-frame campers, open and enclosed utility trailers, car trailers, pop-up and teardrop trailers, and even a horse trailer.

Naturally, the Explorer will only be able to safely tow if the gross trailer weight and the gross vehicle weight (or the gross combined weight), so don’t exceed or come too close to the truck’s maximum towing capacity.

Therefore, the Explorer would be best suited for towing smaller campers and travel trailers (4,000 – 4,600 pounds at best).

Can a Ford Explorer Tow a Fifth Wheel Trailer?

The 2022 Ford Explorer is a powerhouse vehicle, but it has its limits, and the fifth-wheelers and other types of heavy trailering are where it reaches its limits.

A fifth wheel is a hitch designed for heavy towing and is usually mounted on a truck’s bed. With its 5,600 lbs maximum towing capacity, the Explorer is not recommended for heavy towing, even with the proper 5th wheel automated safety hitch and coupling mechanisms.

Fifth wheel hitches are most suitable for long-bed trucks (7 ft or longer). Being an SUV, the Explorer makes towing a fifth-wheel trailer somewhat more complicated but not altogether impossible.

In order to tow a fifth-wheel trailer, first and foremost, you need to ensure the gross weight rating of the truck (including passengers, fuel, payload) and the gross trailer weight are within the Explorer’s towing capacity.

If you find a lightweight trailer or camper (up to 3,000 lbs), you’d need a 5th wheel hitch so you can mount it onto your Explorer. Fifth wheel hitches, adapters, and goosenecks may be available to buy aftermarket, but you’d need to consult with your dealership about particulars.

The bottom line is, while you can find 5th wheel campers and trailers under 5,000 lbs, the Explorer would not make an appropriate towing vehicle for a heavy 5th wheel trailer.

The Towing Capacity of Different Ford Explorer Models and Years

Ford Explorer by YearEngine specsTowing capacity
Ford Explorer 20162.3L 280-HP 4 cylinder EcoBoost engine
310 lb.-ft. of torque
Up to 5,000 lbs
Ford Explorer 2017290-HP 3.5L V-6
255 lb.-ft. of torque
Up to 5,000 lbs
Ford Explorer 2018290-HP 3.5L V6
255-310 lb-ft of torque
Up to 5,000 lbs
Ford Explorer 2019Standard 290-HP 3.5L V6 or
365-HP twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6
3,000-5,000 lbs
Ford Explorer 20202.3L EcoBoost I-4 Engine;
3.0L EcoBoost V6 Engine
3.3L Hybrid V6
5,000-5,600 lbs
Ford Explorer 20213.0L EcoBoost V6
Up o 400-HP and up to 415 lb.-ft. of torque;
2.3L EcoBoost® 4-Cylinder;
3.3L Hybrid
5,000-5600 lbs
Ford Explorer 20222.3L EcoBoost 4-Cylinder; 3.0L EcoBoost V6: 3.3L Hybrid V65,000-5,600 lbs

What Affects the Overall Towing Capacity of the Ford Explorer?

What’s the Ford Explorer Towing Capacity – What Trailers and Campers Can it Safely Tow? 2

Many different factors determine how the Explorer performs in terms of towing efficiency.

The terrain, wiring, extra upgrades, coupling systems, payload, trailer weight, and size (with or without payload) all affect, in one way or another, the Explorer’s towing capacity. But it ultimately boils down to the engine type together with its respective axle ratio and the towing/trailering package.

Ford Explorer 2022 models feature different upgrades and smart technologies that improve towing in many respects. Some Ford Explorer models from 2019 on include improved brake control, trailer sways control, side-wind stabilization, all-wheel drive, and a terrain management system with 7 driving modes that make towing and driving smooth on different terrains.

Engine strength

Each 2022 Ford Explorer model comes with 3 engine options with varying maximum tow ratings.

The first option is the 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 10-speed automatic turbocharged engine with direct injection, 300-HP, and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. The maximum towing capacity of the Ford Explorer coupled with this engine is up to 5,300 lbs.

The second engine option for the 2022 Explorer is 3.0L twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 10-speed automatic with 400 horsepower. It provides all-wheel drive (4WD), 415 lb.-ft. of torque and a maximum capacity for towing of up to 5,600 lbs. when fully equipped.

Lastly, the 3.3L Hybrid 318-HP V6 is a naturally aspirated engine that’s been paired with an electric motor. It only comes with the 10-speed automatic, delivers 322 lb.-ft. of torque and comes with both real-wheel and 4WD. The total tow capacity of the 3.3L Hybrid is 5,000 lbs.

Axle Ratio  

For the uninitiated, the axle ratio is the ratio of revolutions per minute of a car’s drive shaft relative to the number of turns of the rear axle.

The axle ratio of most new trucks and SUVs designed for towing purposes ranges between 3.23 (or 3.23:1) or lower (3.16) to up to 4.10. However, 3.23 to 3.58 is the average axle ratio range.

Basically, a high numerical value of the axle ratio means high towing capacity and vice versa. However, in terms of fuel economy, a higher axle ratio means more engine revolutions per minute (RPM), and, in effect, your truck will burn slightly more fuel than a lower ratio.

A higher axle ratio will deliver more torque to both front and rear tires, which increases the vehicle’s towing capacity.

The 2022 Explorer engine options have a variety of axle ratios. The 2.3L EcoBoost comes with axle ratios of 3.36 (RWD) and 3.51 (4WD).

The Length and Weight of the Truck

The truck’s weight (alongside the weight of the trailer) plays an instrumental part in its towing tow capacity.

The weight is crucial as it can help you determine how much you can tow based on the truck’s weight (with or without payload and passengers) and based on the weight of the trailer, with or without contents.

To reiterate, the Ford Explorer’s towing capacity is between 5,000 lbs and 5,600 lbs – the exact capacity depends on the engine. This range is the total amount of weight the SUV can tow, excluding the vehicle’s payload and passenger weight.

To see if the Explorer can handle the intended weight, you need to consider the GCWR (gross combined weight rating).

Payload

The payload is the total weight you can place in the truck to come up with the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). This rating excludes the curb weight, i.e., the truck’s weight with the standard equipment and fuel but without the driver, passengers, or payload.

The payload capacity of Ford Explorer models from 2017 onwards ranges somewhere between 1,200 and 1,700 lbs.

If you max out the gross vehicle weight on your Explorer, you need to make sure the gross trailer weight, whether with or without payload, does not exceed or come too close to the maximum towing capacity.

When you figure out both your truck’s and your trailer’s payloads, you will come to the GCWR – the total weight of the truck with payload, passengers, equipment, and fuel, plus the full weight of the trailer.

The GCWR of the Explorer varies based on the engine and equipment. With the 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine, the GCWR is about 7,800 lbs. The GCWR extends to about 10,800 lbs with the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 and between 8,000 lbs and 10,600 lbs when powered by the 3.3L Hybrid V6.

Tongue Weight

Trailer tongue weight should always be factored in to come with your GCWR. Tongue weight is the amount of weight pressing down on the trailer’s tongue to ensure safe and stable towing and maneuvering.

The rule is that the tongue weight should not go over 10-15% of the gross trailer weight. So, if you’re towing a 4,000 lb trailer, the tongue weight should be between 400 and 600 lbs.

However, Ford’s own specifications for their new line of Explorers state that the tongue weight should be a maximum of 10% of the gross trailer weight, i.e., no more than 560 lbs.

Towing Package

Towing package is an all-inclusive term that refers to a truck’s/SUV’s overall capability to handle towing any cargo.

The towing package can include many extra upgrades to the engine, frame, brakes, suspension, transmission, truck bed, circuitry, and varied add-ons for an optimal towing experience.

Some elements of the towing package can be purchased aftermarket; others are already integrated when you buy the truck.

Some of the towing package components in the given Explorer models include a hitch receiver, seven-wire harness, trailer sway control, and a tow/haul mode as part of Ford’s Terrain Management System.

Trailer Tow Package

The difference between a tow package and a trailer package is small but not inconspicuous. As opposed to the comprehensive nature of towing packages, trailer tow packages are geared specifically for towing trailers.

Like the towing packages, trailer tow equipment can be integrated into the vehicle’s design or bought and installed aftermarket.

Fortunately, the new line of Explorer SUVs is equipped with Class III and Class IV trailer tow packages meant for trailers weighing more than 3,000 lbs.

There are 8 Ford Explorer 2022 models, and all come with Class IV trailering packages.  The package, depending on the model of the Explorer, come either with the 2.3L EcoBoost 4WD/RWD engine capable of towing up to 5,300 lbs or the 3.0L EcoBoost® V6 4WD engine with a towing capacity of up to 5,600 lbs. The package further includes an integrated trailer towing hitch and connections.

Which Midsize Trucks Provide Similar Towing Capacities to the Ford Explorer?

Below is a short list of mid-size trucks with towing capacities matching or exceeding the towing potential of the Explorer.

  • Toyota Highlander – up to 5,000 lbs with appropriate package
  • Honda Ridgeline – 5,000 lbs max. tow rating
  • Ford Maverick – 2,000 to 4,000 lbs
  • Chevrolet Colorado – 3,500-7,700 lbs
  • Jeep Gladiator – up to 7,650 lbs

Ford Explorer Towing Capacity FAQs 

What Engine Options are Available for the 2022 Ford Explorer?

The 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 direct injection, 3.0L twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, and 3.3L naturally aspirated V6 Hybrid are the three engine options that power all-new Explorer 2022 models. The 3.0L EcoBoost V6 offers an optimal towing capacity of up to 5,600 lbs, while the 2.3L EcoBoost and 3.3L V6 Hybrid provides 5,300 lbs maximum towing capacity.

Can the Ford Explorer Tow a Travel Trailer?

The new Explorer SUVs can tow several travel trailers and campers. Some of these include teardrop campers, pop-up trailers, A-frame campers, and similar small travel trailers whose weight (gross weight or empty trailer weight) does not exceed 5,600 lbs.

What Technologies Does the 2022 Ford Explorer Use to Improve Towing?

Ford has boosted its new Ford Explorer 2022 lineup with improved ground clearance and rear-wheel and all-wheel drive modes, better brake and trailer sway control, and hill descent control. They have added new technologies and configurations that vastly enhance the vehicle’s towing capabilities. Ford further reinforced the Explorer’s trailer towing package and Terrain Management System. The latter includes several modes that configure the SUV for better towing on different terrains, including the deep snow/sand mode, slippery more, and most importantly, the tow/haul mode.

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About Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman is an interesting travel blogger and outdoor photographer with a great sense of humor. He owns an RV Accessories shop in New York City so he has the knowledge necessary to provide thorough reviews and give advice on how to choose the right products for RV travel. He puts all that RV knowledge and experience to good use in his sharing posts. Besides product buying guides/reviews, Chris also writes informative articles, how-to articles and RV camping guides in his own interesting viewpoint. Chris’s blog is one of the most reliable information sources for RV campers no matter if you're an expert or a determined beginner.

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