How much is the 2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity? Enough for best tow experience.

2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity chart.

The 2012 Ford Explorer’s robust capability, amazing styling, versatility, and driver-focused technological innovations meet the demands of the SUV lifestyle. 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. In this article let’s take a look at the trim, engine options, and the 2012 Ford Explorer’s towing capacity in detail.

2012 Ford Explorer trim levels2012 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. 
2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity

2012 Ford Explorer Engine Specs

  • 2.0L Ecoboost I-4: With a turbocharged, direct-injection powerhouse, the 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 engine provides power when you need it while pushing mileage to the max: 28 mpg. A 6-speed automatic transmission helps EcoBoost deliver plenty of low-end torque for acceleration and passing, plus outstanding fuel economy while cruising.
  • 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.
Engine2.0-liter EcoBoost I-43.5L Ti-VCT V6
Horsepower240 hp @ 5,500rpm290 hp @ 6,500rpm
Torque270 lb.-ft. @ 3,000rpm255 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.

2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity without Trailer tow package

EngineAxle RatioGCWR (lbs.)DriveMaximum Trailer Weight (lbs.)
2.0L Ecoboost I-43.36
3.5L Ti-VCT V63.16
2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity

2012 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. This package is not available with a 2.0L EcoBoost engine. 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.
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.

2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity with Trailer tow package

EngineAxle RatioGCWR (lbs.)DriveMaximum Trailer Weight (lbs.)
3.5L TiVCT 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.

2012 Ford Explorer trims

For 2012, with three well-equipped models: Explorer, XLT, and Limited. Let’s find out more about all the details of the maximum towing potential of each of the trim levels of the 2012 Explorer lineup below.

2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity

The 2012 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.

2012 Ford Explorer XLT towing capacity

The 2012 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.

2012 Ford Explorer Limited towing capacity

The 2012 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.

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2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity

Frontal Area Considerations

Base Vehicle Frontal Area (20 sq. ft.)Without Trailer Tow Package Class III
40 sq. ft.With Trailer Tow Package Class III
The chart above shows the maximum trailer frontal area that must be considered for a vehicle/trailer combination.
Frontal Area is the total area in square feet that a moving vehicle and trailer exposes to air resistance. Exceeding these limitations may significantly reduce the performance of your towing vehicle.

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.

2012 Ford Explorer towing features

The 2012 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.
2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity

2012 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.
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. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can a 2012 Ford Explorer tow?

The body-on-frame SUV the 2012 Ford Explorer towing capacity is a maximum of 5,000 pounds tow rating is enough for most buyers. To achieve this towing capacity, you need to get the 3.5 liter V6 engine and optional Class III trailer tow package equipped properly. With the 2.0 liter Ecoboost engine, you can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

2012 Ford Explorer video
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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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