Gas vs. Electric Towing

2020 Ford Explorer towing

It seems relatively clear that electric cars are the future of transportation. But, we know the technology has a long way to go before it can keep our world in motion. There are challenges around nearly ever corner for EVs that still need to be solved.

While we will leave the EV engineering to Elon and his crew, we can give you information on how Teslas perform in the HERE & NOW. This we we were able to get our hands on a 2020 Ford Explorer. It’s a very similar vehicle compared to our 2020 Model X.

Tesla Model XFord Explorer
PassengersUp to 7Up to 7
Curb Weight5,500 lbs4,701 lbs
Towing Capacity5,000 lbs5,600 lbs
EPA Range96 MPGe24 MPG
0-60 Time4.4 sec5.3 sec
2020 Tesla Model X Long Range Plus vs. 2020 Ford Explorer ST

We set off to test the two cars and tried to grab as much data as we could on each cars performance: both numerical and experience. We wanted to see which vehicle was better by the book and which vehicle simply “felt” like a better tow vehicle.

The first vehicle we tested was the Explorer. We hitched up and took our 2021 Apex Nano 194BHS (UVW 3,634lbs, GVWR 4,800lbs, hitch weight 428) for a 30 mile round trip. We opted to start our journey near a Supercharger and gas station so both vehicles were traveling the same route fully fueled.

The Explorer performed well overall. It was a solid tow vehicle for a small trailer. Although you were able to feel the trailer behind the SUV a bit, it didn’t seem to be pushing it around on the road, even with a decent crosswind (15 mph sustained, gusting to 20+ mph). We didn’t have any complaints.

If the Explorer is a solid tow vehicle, the Tesla is THE tow vehicle in terms of how the vehicle handles the trailer. In the Tesla it’s easy to forget the trailer is behind you. It simply handles well. Even with the Explorer supposedly able to tow more, the Tesla seemed to handle the load better. Is it the air-ride suspension? The added weight of the batteries in the Tesla? Who knows. Maybe we will understand more as towing with an electric vehicle becomes more common, but for now we can say the Tesla handles towing with ease.

Now, let’s look at the numbers. When it comes to efficiency and time, which car wins?

Tesla Model XFord Explorer
MPG While Towing39 MPGe10.5 MPG
Increased Consumption317%275%
Fueling Time25 minutes5 minutes
Which vehicle performs when it comes to the numbers?

…we would love to tell you there is a straight answer to the question, Is a gas vehicle or an electric vehicle a better tow vehicle. But, as it turns out it depends what is important to you.

Are you looking to reach your destination quickly and aren’t worried about environmental impacts? Gas is probably the better choice. The Explorer handles the trailer well, fuels up quickly, and fuel range isn’t decreased quite as much as an electric vehicle.

Are you okay stopping to smell the roses a bit and are environmentally conscious? If that’s the case, the Tesla is right up your alley. As far as environmental impact, it’s hard to beat 39 MPGe towing–that’s better than the Explorer gets on a regular basis. But, there is no denying that traveling with an Electric Vehicle takes longer than it’s ICE counterpart.

What do you think? Which vehicle wins in your opinion?

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