Ford Explorer: Unique Driving Characteristics / Hybrid Vehicle Operation (If Equipped)

Ford Explorer 2020-2023 Owners Manual / Unique Driving Characteristics / Hybrid Vehicle Operation (If Equipped)

This hybrid vehicle combines electric and gasoline propulsion to provide breakthrough performance and improved efficiency. Familiarizing yourself with these unique characteristics provides an optimal driving experience from your vehicle.


When you start your vehicle, a green READY indicator light appears in the instrument cluster and a ready to drive message appears, letting you know that your vehicle is ready for driving.

The engine may not start because your vehicle has a silent key start feature. This fuel saving feature allows your vehicle to be ready to drive without requiring the gas engine to be running. The indicator remains on when your vehicle is on, whether the engine is running or not, to indicate your vehicle is capable of movement using the electric motor, gas engine or both. Typically, the engine does not start unless the vehicle is cold, a climate control change is requested or you press the accelerator pedal.


The gas engine automatically starts and stops to provide power when needed and to save fuel when not needed. When coasting at low speeds, coming to a stop, or standing, the gas engine normally shuts down and your vehicle operates in electric-only mode.

Conditions that may cause the engine to start up or remain running include:

  • Considerable vehicle acceleration.
  • Climbing a hill.
  • Charge level of high voltage battery is low.
  • High or low outside temperatures in order to provide system heating or cooling.
  • Engine not warm enough to provide passenger requested cabin temperature.
  • Towing a trailer.
  • Selectable drive modes: Certain selectable drive modes may cause the engine to run. See About Drive Mode Control.
  • Live in Drive: Use of the paddle shifters while in drive (D) may cause the engine to run. See Transmission.


The gas engine may shut off to conserve fuel as you come to a stop. Restarting your vehicle is not required. Simply step on the accelerator when you are ready to drive.

Transmission Operation

The engine and electric motor together propel the vehicle through the automatic transmission. This is normal hybrid operating and helps deliver fuel efficiency and performance.


Your hybrid is equipped with a high voltage battery. A cool battery maintains battery life and provides the best possible performance. The high voltage battery is cooled by the vehicle's air conditioning system. When the air conditioning system is on, you may notice a slight increase in air temperature coming from the climate control vents while the battery is cooling. You may also notice cool air flowing from the vents when the air conditioning or blower is off.

You may also notice during extending downhill driving that your engine continues to run instead of shutting off. During this engine braking, the engine stays on, but it is not using any fuel. You may also hear a slight whine or whistle when operating your vehicle. This is the normal operation of the electric motor in the hybrid system.


Your hybrid is equipped with standard hydraulic braking and regenerative braking. Regenerative braking is performed by your transmission and it captures brake energy and stores it in the high voltage battery. You may notice the transmission changing gears while decelerating. This is normal, and is used to capture the maximum energy back into the high voltage battery.

Driving to Optimize Fuel Economy

Note: Having your engine running is not always an indication of inefficiency. In some cases, it is actually more efficient than driving in electric mode.

Your fuel economy should improve throughout your hybrid's break-in period. As with any vehicle, your driving habits and accessory usage can significantly impact your fuel economy. For best results, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep the tires properly inflated and only use the recommended size.
  • Aggressive driving increases the amount of energy required to move your vehicle. In general, you can achieve better fuel economy with mild to moderate acceleration and deceleration. Moderate braking is particularly important since it allows you to maximize the energy captured by the regenerative braking system.

Additional Tips:

  • Do not carry extra loads.
  • Be mindful of adding external accessories that may increase aerodynamic drag.
  • Observe posted speed limits.
  • Perform all scheduled maintenance.
  • There is no need to wait for your engine to warm up. The vehicle is ready to drive immediately after starting.


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    Hybrid Vehicle Frequently Asked Questions (If Equipped)


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