How Much Can a 2016 Ford Explorer Tow? (XLT, Limited, Sport)

Tow ratings can be misleading. While the automaker may provide you with a tow rating in your manual, they also only publish the information they want you to know. Most tow ratings do not tell you that every passenger, piece of equipment, and so on lowers that rating

You are looking at being able to tow 5,000 pounds but only if you have the following equipment- factory-installed Class III Trailer Tow Package and either the 3.5L EcoBoost engine with 3.16 axle ratio, or the 3.5L normally-aspirated engine with 3.39 or 3.65 axle ratio & a weight-distribution hitch.

To learn more about this tow rating for this Ford vehicle, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can get your family and your trailer to your vacation spot safely.

2016 Explorer Towing Capacity Chart

Trim option Maximum towing weight (pounds) Curb weight (pounds)
Platinum 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A) 5000 4901
Sport 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl Turbo 6A) 5000 4901
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A) 5000 4629
Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A) 5000 4443
XLT 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A) 5000 4629
XLT 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A) 5000 4443
4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A) 5000 4629
4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A) 5000 4443

** information taken from

How Much Can a 2016 Ford Explorer Tow?


For the vehicles that have the 2.3 L Eco-boost I-4 engine, you are only able to tow 3000 pounds. Those Explorers with the 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 or the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 motors, you can only tow 5,000 pounds.

Keep in mind that for every passenger, any supplies and pieces of equipment you add to your vehicle, that rating drops pound for pound. In other words, if your wife weighs 100 pounds, you can only tow 4,900 pounds and on it goes.

The curb weight for the three motors ranges between 4400 to 4900 pounds. Then in brackets in the same table, Ford writes ‘when properly equipped’. What that means is that you will not be able to tow very much if you do not have the tow package and the weight distribution hitch attached to the vehicle.

Make sure the 2016 has those pieces of equipment or you will be spending a lot of money installing them.

Can a 2016 Ford Explorer Tow a Boat?

Yes, it can. The rule of thumb is that if the boat and trailer are under that 5000-pound limit, then the Ford Explorer can tow the boat. But 5000 pounds is not a lot of weight to work with.

If you add in the weights of a spouse, 2 kids, food for the day or week, and other equipment, you may be looking at being able to tow 4000 to 4500 pounds. It will all depend on how much supplies you bring, how heavy that equipment is, and the combined weights of your family.

You will have to do some precise calculations to make sure you meet that weight limit. It is not wise to overload the vehicle with too much weight as you are only asking for trouble. To be safe never go past your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.

Can a 2016 Ford Explorer Tow a Camper?

This may seem like a redundant question but there are some tiny trailers, pop-up campers, and other types of trailers the Explorer can handle. The answer is yes it can as long as all the conditions mentioned in the previous section are met.

You will not have a lot of living space as trailers, supplies, etc., take up that available tow weight very quickly. You may be limited to something like the Egg or a similar size of trailer or a small pop-up camper.

If you have a large family or need more living area, you will have to go with a different vehicle that can tow more weight than the Explorer. The choice will be yours and you need to figure out what you need with you before renting or buying a trailer.

You can tow but you may not be happy with the size of camper you can bring with you on vacation.

Can a 2016 Ford Explorer Tow a Car?


With the right equipment, you should be able to tow a very small car. That small car may be the size of a VW bug or an Austin Mini or a little larger but not too much larger.

Also, your Explorer will need the right tow package and the weight distribution hitch to make the towing safe and get that 5000-pound limit. In the old days, all you needed was a rope to do the towing and ropes are light.

In today’s world, there are too many regulations and the weight distribution hitch is going to add quite a few pounds to your total weight. Factor in that weight along with everything else you are bringing along as you tow a vehicle.

If you thought you would never use your math, well now is the time to put that education to good use. Double-check your figures to make sure they are correct.

What Can a 2016 Ford Explorer Tow?

The first important piece of information you need to know about is that the Ford Explorer is not rated for payload weight. According to the table we saw, you cannot put any cargo inside the Explorer.

The only weight you get is the tow rating and the curb weight. This means you are very limited in what you can tow. Passengers and supplies will take away from that 5000-pound weight limit.

So in the end, you are looking at towing small trailers, smaller vehicles, utility trailers, boats, and trailers, if they are light enough, and so on. You can tow your toys like snowmobiles, etc., as long as the toy and trailer weigh well under 5000 pounds.

You do not have a lot of weight space to work with this vehicle. All the different items you want along will add up very quickly so be careful when you pack.

2016 Ford Explorer XLT With Tow Package

The tow ratings will not change for any of the vehicles in this article. As you can see by the table, they are all rated the same even though their curb weight is different.

With the towing package, you will be able to tow a maximum of 5000 pounds. This is the same no matter which table or car website we checked. Ford did not invest a lot in this vehicle and decided not to do anything different for each trim model.

It is sort of like Toyota which made some of their car models, no matter the trim, tow the same weight. There is no creativity or innovation involved with these car models.

Either that or Ford figured the cost to vary the towing weight for the Explorer trim models was too expensive so they decided not to do it.

2016 Ford Explorer Limited Towing Capacity


As you can see from the chart above, the towing weight rating is only 5000 pounds. But here is the story about these tow ratings. First, the ratings are done under ideal conditions. These conditions are not constant when you are towing for real.

Second, the ratings assume that only a skinny guy and a full tank of gas are inside the SUV. Third, it also assumes that no heavy equipment except the engine and axle are in the vehicle.

So yes, you can pull a 5000-pound trailer if you want. But you have to have nothing heavier than a toothbrush inside the vehicle. You will be able to make it over those steep hills and mountain passes but be careful if you add passengers and supplies. The going up may be really slow.

You may be better off towing a 2000 to 3000-pound trailer if you want to tow comfortably and bring your family along with you.

2016 Ford Explorer Platinum Towing Capacity

Everything we said for the previous two trim models applies here. There is nothing different when you change the trim design. That is because it all boils down to the weight rating.

Trim designs may affect the curb weight or GVWR, etc., but it does not affect the tow rating. Nor does it affect the payload weight rating as this year of Explorer was never given one that we saw.

Also, a 4000-pound trailer may be good to tow around the flat parts of the country. But it is not very good at towing over the mountains and other steep grades.

If the 3.5L EcoBeast motor was put into a different vehicle, like an F150, then you may have the power and the towing capacity to easily ascend those mountain passes, maintain a good rate of speed and make it safely to where you are going.

However, the trailer at the back of that alternate vehicle still needs to weigh about 4000 to 5000 pounds to do that.

2016 Ford Explorer Sport Towing Capacity

5,000 pounds and that is it. We do not have any different news for this trim model. Ford kept it simple and made this vehicle year standard at 5000 pounds no matter what.

There is one reason why this is so. It has been mentioned that the older Explorers were built on a truck frame and the newer models, like the 2016 ones, were not. This different frame could make the difference you need to be able to tow heavier weights.

That is a bit of speculation on our part and we have not confirmed that as of yet. Yet, no matter which trim model you get, you have to have the tow package and the weight distribution hitch to be able to tow that 5000 pounds.

Ford Explorer Tow-Haul Mode


First off, this feature seems to be added to the Ford truck lineup and not its SUV models. In our research, we found only one website that talked about a tow/haul feature for the Explorer. It was a 2104 model though.

This feature, if it is on your 2016 model, is supposed to make towing easier. Once engaged, the transmission operation is improved. The upshifts are delayed to keep the engine operating at higher levels.

Plus, it provides braking assistance in all gears. This is vital when going downhill. Another duty of this feature is to make sure your hauling and towing go smoothly. Your speed is controlled better making your trip safer for you and your family.

But as we said, we have seen many articles talking about this feature in the heavy-duty truck models and not in the SUV options. The feature may be there but no one thought it was important enough to talk about.

2016 Ford Explorer Payload

Every table and chart we found provided the exact same information for this year of Explorer. They put a dash (-) in the box under the category labeled payload.

This was on a chart that was comparing different automakers’ models with the Explorer as well as For only charts. You can check the owner’s manual to see what it says but we are concluding that you do not get any payload capacity with this SUV.

Some Final Words

When you are looking for a vehicle to tow your trailer, the Explorer may not be it. While it will do a good job towing the trailers you want to tow, the weight limit restricts your options.

Especially when you are bringing the family and lots of supplies or equipment along for the ride. If you have a heavy trailer, boat, or other items you need to tow, it will be best to look for another vehicle to handle the weight. Not every vehicle will be a heavy-duty truck that tows 7000+pounds.

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