2021-2000 Ford Explorer Towing Capacity Resource Guide

The Ford Explorer is a popular mid-sized SUV and a lot of people seem to wonder how much weight they can actually pull. I looked online and I got some pretty vague answers, so I decided to break down the Explorer's trailer weight ratings in an easy-to-read and convenient format.

Below you will find charts for specific models years, links to the manuals where I found my information, a quick overview of important specs and more. Hope it helps someone out there!

Overview of the Data For the Ford Explorer:

Engine Choices: In the Ford Explorer's lifespan, there were many different engines used throughout 2000-2021 that ranged from 4 cylinders, 6 cylinders and even 8 cylinder engines. The 8 cylinder engines had some of the best pulling capabilities (obviously) but the 6 cylinder engines also had respectable numbers and seemed to be one of the most popular engines throughout the years.

Axle Ratio/Configurations: There were three main axle configurations that I noticed that were standard on the Explorers and these were a RWD, 4WD and AWD options. The overall weight capacities did not seem directly affected by the drivetrain configuration and had little to no effect on the pulling statistics.

Towing Capacity: The towing capacity for the Ford Explorer was pretty similar, no matter what year you were looking at if you compared similar engines. The 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder engines seemed to range from 2,000-5,000 lbs. and the larger 8 cylinder engines ranged from about 3,500-7,100 lbs. or slightly more.

This is a brief overview of the ratings that I found for the Explorers and each year was a little different and is why I included the tables for each year below, so you can get a more accurate figure.

2021 & 2020 Models:

There were 4 different engine configurations for the 2021 and 2020 Explorers, but the overall towing capacity did not vary by much by engine.

2020 Model

The average towing capacity was between 3,000-5,600 lbs. and the GCWR ranged from 7,700-10,800 pounds. The charts were identical except for a couple of the notes below the table that indicated different trim levels with some of the specs in the charts.

2021 Explorer Towing Chart

2021 Chart

2020 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2019-2017 Models:

From 2017-2019, the Ford Explorer had a towing capacity that ranged from 2,000-5,000 lbs., the higher capacity reserved for the 6 cylinder engines.

2017 Models

There were three different engine configurations for the 2017-2019 models, one 4 cylinder engine and two 6 cylinder engines.

2017-2019 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2016 Models:

The 2016 Explorer's had nearly identical specs to the 2017-2019 models but a 2.0L engine was used as the 4 cylinder engine instead of the 2.3L engine.

2016 Models

The maximum towing capacity for the 2016 models ranged from 2,000-5,000 lbs. and the GCWR's ranged from 6,900 lbs. to 10,400 lbs.

2016 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2015-2013 Models:

Ford Explorers that were made from 2013 to 2015 had very similar towing capacity numbers, similar to the 2016 model year. 

There were slight variations in the gross combined weight rating numbers, along with a slight difference in the overall towing capacity for the 2.0 liter engine.

The average range was from 2,000 pounds to 5,000 pounds, in general but realistically there were only two figures and that was either a 2,000 pound rating or a 5,000 pound rating and nothing in between those two figures.

Other than that, the 2013-2015 models and the 2016 models were very similar as far as specs go, aside from no four wheel drive model being offered for the 2.0L engine.

2013-2015 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2012 Models:

The 2012 models only had two engine configurations to choose from, the 2.0L and the 3.5L engines, no EcoBoost engine like the preceding years offered.

2013 Models

The maximum trailer weight (towing) capacity for the 2012 models did still have the 2,000 or 5,000 pound rating though, which is the same as many other years.

The 2.0L engine had only the lesser 2,000 lb. rating and the 3.5L engine had the 2,000 and 5,000 lb. rating, of which the GCWR numbers were higher for the higher rated capacities.

2012 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2011 Models:

For 2011, the Explorer only had a single engine offered, the familiar 3.5L V6, which had the same 2,000 or 5,000 lb. capacity rating for towing/trailers.

2013 Models

The GCWR was also very similar to the 2012 models, only differing by about 30 lbs.

Pay attention to the chart below that states that there were FWD and AWD models available and the corresponding GCWR was directly tied to the lower and higher ratings.

2011 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2010 Models:

2010 was the last year that the 4.0L and 4.6L engines were offered for the Ford Explorers and is one of the main reasons that the maximum towing capacities dropped off to lower figures.

2010 Models

The range for the maximum trailer weight (towing capacity) for the 2010 modes was stated at 3,500-7,115 lbs. for both engine configurations.

The 4.0L engine had a capacity range of 3,500-5,375 lbs., while the 4.6L engine had a range of 3,500-7,115 lbs. Note that the table below shows specs for the Explorer and the Mountaineer and you will need to pay attention to some of the notes below the table.

2010 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2009 Models:

The 2009 models did have similar numbers to the 2010 models but there was a slight increase in capacity for the 4.6L engine, by roughly 170 lbs.

2010 Models

The maximum towing capacity for the 2009 Explorers ranged from 3,500-7,285 lbs. for the 4.6L engine and 3,500-5,375 lbs. for the 4.0L engine.

2009 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2008-2006 Models:

For 2008, the Ford Explorer had an overall maximum trailer capacity of 3,500-7,310 lbs. for models equipped with the 4.6L engine and a range of 3,500-5,395 lbs. for models that used the 4.0L engine.

2010 Models

Model years 2006 and 2007 were nearly identical when compared to the 2008 model so I decided to just leave the towing tables from Ford and skipped the summaries of each year. The GCWR was a little different for the 2006 model year though and is worth taking a look at.

2008 Ford Explorer Towing Chart
2007 Ford Explorer Towing Chart
2006 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2005-2003 Models:

For models made between 2003-2005, the specs as far as tow ratings go were very close and only differed by 20-40 lbs.

2002-2005 Models

The towing capacity for Explorer's made from 2003-2005 ranged from 3,260-7,160 lbs. for the 4.6L engines and 3,260-5,780 lbs. for models that used the 4.0L engines.

The GCWR numbers were the same for all three years but there were slight differences in the axle configuration as far as FWD/4x4/AWD goes, so it is worth taking a little more time to look those up in the three tables below.

2004 Ford Explorer Towing Chart
2005 Ford Explorer Towing Chart
2003 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2002 Models:

For 2002, there was two different towing tables available with very different figures and this was based on whether you had an automatic or manual transmission equipped.

2002-2005 Models

The two engines used were still the 4.0L and 4.6L engines that were used for many other years though.

Models with an automatic transmission had a maximum trailer capacity of 3,500-7,300 lbs. for the 4.6L engine and a range of 3,500-5,940 lbs. for the 4.0L engines.

Models that used a manual transmission had a much lower specified range than the automatic transmission, 2,500-2,700 lbs. being the maximum specified range.

2002 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2001 Models:

For 2001, the Ford Explorer had a 4.0L and 5.0L engine that produced some of the best towing specs out of all of the model years.

2000-2001 Models

The 4.0L engine was able to provide 4,740-5,940 lbs. of pulling force, while the 5.0L engine was able to pump out 5,620-6,820 lbs. of pulling power.

The V8 engine was very capable and gave the Explorer a huge advantage when it came to pulling heavy loads.

2001 Ford Explorer Towing Chart

2000 Models:

For 2000 model Explorers, there was two options again that differed by huge amounts due to having either an automatic or manual transmission equipped.

2000-2001 Models

The range for automatic transmission vehicles was 3,440-6,820 lbs., with the 5.0L engine having the best numbers (5,620-6,820 lbs.).

Explorer's equipped with a manual transmission had a significantly lower towing capacity that ranged from just 2,000-3,200 lbs., nearly a 1,500-3,500 lb. difference!

2000 Ford Explorer Towing Charts

Do I Have Auxiliary Climate Control?

In some of the model years, the tables listed that you will need to deduct 500 lbs. if your Explorer is equipped with an auxiliary climate control which is basically another set of ac/heater controls for the back passengers. Here is a quote from a 2010 Explorer's owners manual (page 104) on what it is:

AUXILIARY SYSTEM (IF EQUIPPED) - Your vehicle may be equipped with an auxiliary climate system. These auxiliary controls, located in the overhead console, allow the front passengers to control airflow direction, temperature and fan level of the rear compartment to quickly heat or cool the entire vehicle.

How Do I Calculate My Explorer's Maximum Weight Capacity Limits?

Ford specifies specific instructions on how to calculate your Explorer's maximum weight rating using the GCWR figure. The only problem is that in many cases, the GCWR is not specified, only the GVWR, so it can be confusing to some people. Below is Ford's instructions on how to calculate your Explorer's GCWR...

Calculating the load your vehicle can carry/tow
1. Use the appropriate maximum GCWR chart (in the Trailer towing section in this chapter) for your type of engine and rear axle ratio.
2. Weigh your vehicle without cargo. To obtain correct weights, take your vehicle to a shipping company or an inspection station for trucks.
3. Subtract your loaded weight from the maximum GCWR in the chart. This is the maximum trailer weight your vehicle can tow. It must be below the maximum trailer weight shown in the chart.

Resources For The Ford Explorer You Might Like:

I always like to include the resource material I use to gather my information and for the Ford Explorer, I used Ford's very handy towing guides. These have multiple cars listed, but the Explorer is also in there too.

Last updated on May 13th, 2021 at 03:35 am

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