What is the 2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity? Can it tow best if properly equipped?

2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity chart

The 2011 Ford Explorer reinvented, evident in its confident stance, smooth styling, and proportions, with short overhangs that are more aerodynamic. Ford’s engineering effort into building their SUVs with unibody structures they’re stiffer, and with high-strength steels, they are lighter got the ride, handling, and NVH results in a superb all-around ride. The robust capability, amazing styling, versatility, and driver-focused technological innovations meet the demands of the SUV lifestyle. In this article let’s take a look at the trim, engine options, and the 2011 Ford Explorer’s towing capacity in detail.

2011 Ford Explorer trim levels2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity
Ford Explorer2,000 – 5,000 lbs.
Ford Explorer XLT2,000 – 5,000 lbs.
Ford Explorer Limited2,000 – 5,000 lbs.
The above-shown numbers are subject to change and are for reference purposes only.
Towing trailers beyond the maximum recommended gross trailer weight exceeds the limit of your vehicle and could result in engine damage, transmission damage, structural damage, loss of vehicle control, vehicle rollover, and personal injury. Do not exceed the GVWR or the GAWR specified on the certification label. 
2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity

2011 Ford Explorer Engine Specs

3.5L Ti-VCT V6: The 3.5-liter engine with the best mileage of 25 mpg and it delivers an unsurpassed 290 horsepower. Twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) helps optimize performance adds an extra measure of precision, and power output while also contributing to fuel efficiency. With 6-speed SelectShift Automatic refined transmission, paired with the Class III Trailer Tow Package, also helps Explorer tow up to 5,000 lbs.

Engine3.5L Ti-VCT V6
Horsepower290 hp @ 6,500rpm
Torque255 lb.-ft. @ 4,000rpm
Note: Specific states require electric trailer brakes for trailers over a specified weight. Be certain to review state regulations for this determined weight. The maximum trailer weights listed could be limited to this specified weight, as the vehicle’s electrical system may not include the wiring connector needed to activate electric trailer brakes.

2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity without Trailer tow package

Tow ratings can be tricky as the car manufacturer may provide you with a tow rating in your manual, but they also only post the information they want you to know. Most tow ratings do not tell you in detail about towing capacity which varies with different configurations.

EngineAxle RatioPassengersGCWR (lbs.)DriveMaximum Trailer Weight (lbs.)
3.5L Ti-VCT V63.16
When properly equipped with Class I Trailer for towing capabilities.

2011 Ford Ranger Trailer Tow Package

The trailer towing packages increase your Explorer’s towing capacity. Each allows for heavier hauls and expands the options of what you can take with your SUV. When properly equipped with Class III Trailer Tow Package for maximum towing capabilities. Towing a trailer places an extra load on your vehicle’s engine, transmission, axle, brakes, tires, and suspension. Check these parts periodically during, and after, any towing function.

Class III Trailer Tow Package (towing capability up to 5,000 lbs.):

  • Hitch Reciever.
  • Engine oil cooler.
  • 7-/4-pin wiring harness.
  • Tire mobility kit.
Maximum towing capabilities are for properly equipped vehicles with required equipment and vary based on cargo, vehicle configuration, accessories, option content and number of passengers. See label on door jamb for carrying capacity of a specific vehicle. For additional information, see your vehicle owner's manual.

2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity with Trailer tow package

EngineAxle RatioPassengersGCWR (lbs.)DriveMaximum Trailer Weight (lbs.)
3.5L Ti-VCT V63.16
Reminder: Ford Explorer does not offer factory-installed towing equipment for this application; only available as a dealer accessory. Do not exceed the trailer weight for your vehicle configuration listed in the chart above.
2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity

Weight-distributing hitch

Do not use hitches that clamp onto the vehicle bumper; use a load-carrying hitch. You must distribute the load in your trailer so that 10–15% of the total weight of the trailer is on the tongue, not to exceed the maximum tongue load of 500 lb (227 kg) on a Class III receiver.

When hooking up a trailer using a weight-distributing hitch, always use the following procedure:

  1. Park the vehicle (without the trailer) on a level surface.
  2. This is H1 measuring the height of the top (H1) of the front wheel opening on the fender.
  3. Attach the trailer to the vehicle without the weight-distributing bars connected.
  4. This is H2 measuring the height of the top of the front wheel opening on the fender a second time.
  5. Install and adjust the tension in the weight-distributing bars so that the height of the front fender is approximately halfway between H1 and H2.
  6. Check that the trailer is level. If not level, adjust the ball height accordingly and repeat Steps 3–6.
Note: Do not adjust a weight-distributing hitch to any position where the rear bumper of the vehicle is higher than it was before attaching the trailer. Doing so will defeat the function of the weight-distributing hitch, which may cause unpredictable handling, and could result in serious personal injury.
2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity

2011 Ford Explorer trims

The 2011 Ford Explorer comes in three models: Explorer, Explorer XLT, and Explorer Limited. Let’s find out more about all the details of the maximum towing potential of each of the trim levels of the 2011 Explorer lineup below.

2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity

The 2011 Ford Explorer base trim highlighted features are 17″ steel wheels with 5-spoke P245/65R17 all-season BSW tires, Cloth seats, 1st-row bucket seats with 2-way adjustable head restraints & 6-way power driver’s seat with manual lumbar, AM/FM stereo/single-CD player with MP3 capability & 6 speakers, Manual day/night rearview mirror, Power windows with one-touch-down driver’s side window feature, MyFord® with 4.2″ color LCD displays in the instrument cluster and center stack; and media hub with auxiliary audio input jack. The maximum towing capacity when equipped properly is between 2,000 to 5,000 pounds.

2011 Ford Explorer XLT towing capacity

The 2011 Ford Explorer XLT offers all the features of Explorer plus other standard features are 18″ painted aluminum wheels with P245/60R18 all-season BSW tires, Automatic headlamps, Fog lamps, Reverse Sensing System, SecuriCode™ invisible keypad, Gloss black heated side view mirrors with LED turn signal indicators & security approach lamps, Unique cloth seats, Perimeter alarm, 6-way power front-passenger seat with manual lumbar, Ford SYNC® voice-activated, in-vehicle connectivity system (includes USB port in media hub), Silver roof-rack side rails, Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and Power windows with a front one-touch-up/-down feature. The maximum towing capacity when equipped properly is between 2,000 to 5,000 pounds.

2011 Ford Explorer Limited towing capacity

The 2011 Ford Explorer Limited highlighted features are 20″ painted aluminum wheels with P255/50R20 all-season BSW tires, Intelligent Access with push-button start, Remote Start System, 1st-row heated bucket seats with 4-way adjustable head restraints, 10-way power driver’s seat (including power lumbar and recline) with memory feature, & 6-way power front-passenger seat with manual lumbar, 2nd-row 60/40 split fold-flat seat with heated outboard seats, fore/aft adjustable 40 section, Leather-trimmed seating surfaces, a 110-volt power outlet, Ambient lighting, Audio System from Sony with 12 speakers & HD Radio Technology, Auto-dimming rearview mirror, Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control, and Rear view camera. The maximum towing capacity when equipped properly is between 2,000 to 5,000 pounds.

2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity
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2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity

The load capacity of your vehicle is designated by weight not volume. Towing a trailer places extra load on the engine, transmission, axle, brakes, tires, and suspension. To help minimize how trailer movement affects your vehicle when driving.

  • Load the heaviest items closest to the trailer floor.
  • Load the heaviest items centered between the left and right side trailer tires.
  • Load the heaviest items above the trailer axles or just slightly forward toward the trailer tongue. Do not allow the final trailer tongue weight to go above or below 10–15% of the loaded trailer weight.
  • Select a tow bar with the correct rise or drop. When both the loaded vehicle and trailer are connected, the trailer frame should be level, or slightly angled down toward your vehicle, when viewed from the side.
Loaded vehicles may handle differently than unloaded vehicles. Extra precautions, such as slower speeds and increased stopping distance should be taken when driving a heavily loaded vehicle.
2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity

2011 Ford Explorer towing features

The 2011 Ford Explorer is also equipped with Hill Descent Control, which modulates the descent on rough terrain, without the driver needing to apply the brakes. For towing, combined with Curve Control, which reduces the throttle and applies the brakes when you enter a curve too quickly, significantly improves the safety of small trailer towing.

  • Advance Trac with RSC (Roll Stability Control): It enhances vehicle stability in a wide range of conditions. By selectively applying individual brakes and modifying engine power, the system helps keep all four wheels firmly planted. In addition, Curve Control helps slow the vehicle down if you’re heading into a curve too quickly.
  • BLIS® with Cross-Traffic Alert: Changing lanes requires your full attention. BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) can help by alerting you to vehicles detected in your blind spots. Cross-Traffic Alert helps by detecting and alerting you to traffic behind your vehicle as you’re slowly backing up.
  • Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System: This allows the driver to adjust the system to accommodate wet, snow-covered, gravel, sand, grass, or other rough road surfaces and conditions, making your vehicle more versatile.
  • Rear View Camera: It helps by providing a great view of what’s behind your vehicle. It also helps when you’re lining up a trailer. A washer helps keep the camera free of debris (like dirt or snow), helping you navigate Reverse clearly and with more confidence.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: It can also alert you to a potential collision and helps maintain your choice of speed and preset gaps from the vehicle in front of you. If one is detected, the system flashes a warning, sounds an alarm, and can pre-charge the brakes to provide full responsiveness when you do brake.
  • Active Park Assist: Active Park Assist makes it easy to park time after time even in tight parallel or reverses perpendicular spots. Park Out Assist with side-sensing capability can help you confidently navigate out of a spot when someone’s parked too close.

Trailer Sway Control

This feature applies your vehicle brakes at individual wheels and, if necessary, reduces engine power. If the trailer begins to sway, the stability control light flashes. Slow your vehicle down, pull safely to the side of the road, and check for the correct load distribution. Turning off trailer sway control increases the risk of loss of vehicle control, serious injury, or death.

Note: This feature does not prevent trailer sway, but reduces it when it begins. This feature cannot stop all trailers from swaying. In some cases, if your vehicle speed is too high, the system may turn on multiple times, gradually reducing your vehicle speed.
2011 Ford Explorer towing capacity
Reminder: Ford Explorer does not offer factory-installed towing equipment for this application; only available as a dealer accessory. Do not exceed the trailer weight for your vehicle configuration listed in the chart above. Maximum weights shown are for properly equipped vehicles with required equipment and a driver. Weight of additional options, equipment, passengers and cargo must be deducted from this weight. 

2011 Ford Explorer towing guide

  • Do not tow a trailer until you drive your vehicle at least 1000 miles. Also, do not drive faster than 70 mph.
  • See the instructions included with towing accessories for the proper installation and adjustment specifications.
  • Service your vehicle more frequently if you tow a trailer. See your scheduled maintenance information.
  • Check your hitch, electrical connections, and trailer wheel lug nuts thoroughly after you have traveled 50 miles.
  • When stopped in blocked or heavy traffic during hot weather, place the gearshift in position P to aid engine and transmission cooling and to help air conditioning performance.
  • Turn off the speed control with heavy loads or in hilly terrain. The speed control may turn off automatically when you are towing on long, steep grades.
  • Shift to a lower gear when driving down a long or steep hill. Do not apply the brakes continuously, as they may overheat and become less effective.
  • Use the Grade Assist or Tow/Haul feature when towing. These provide engine braking and help eliminate excessive transmission shifting for optimum fuel economy and transmission cooling.
  • Allow more distance for stopping with a trailer attached. Anticipate stops and brake gradually.
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Aaron Bennett is an accomplished author and a true aficionado when it comes to pickup trucks. With an unwavering passion for all things automotive, Aaron has dedicated his life to exploring the world of pickups and sharing his expertise with others. As the proud owner of several powerful machines, he has spent countless hours behind the wheel, navigating rugged terrains and conquering highways with unrivaled enthusiasm.

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