Eco Mode on the Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer's Eco Mode offers modest fuel savings by reducing throttle response and extending acceleration time.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Hillary Kobayashi
While in Eco Mode, the
Ford Explorer
offers less throttle response and a longer acceleration time, making it ideal for thrifty (and patient) drivers.
Since the Ford Explorer was introduced in 1991, a lot has changed, including gas prices and consumer expectations. Buyers might be willing to splurge at the dealership, but they don’t want to drop big bucks at the pump every time they need to refuel. Though the Explorer has grown bigger and more luxurious over the years, thankfully, it’s also become more fuel efficient and now offers a fuel-saving Eco Mode.
So how does it work? More importantly, how well does it work? Here's everything you need to know about Eco Mode on the Ford Explorer.

What’s Eco Mode?

The sixth and latest generation of Ford's Terrain Management System adds Eco Mode to the roster of selectable drive modes. While the other settings—Trail, Deep Snow/Sand, Slippery, Sport, and Tow/Haul—focus on getting you out of difficult driving situations, Eco Mode focuses on saving you money
With the press of a button or the turn of a dial, Eco Mode is supposed to help deliver maximum fuel efficiency and increase driving range. 
In practice, this means reducing throttle response and acceleration. Pressing on the gas pedal delivers less power and therefore the car consumes less fuel. Eco Mode will also try to keep your engine at a low RPM when fuel mileage is at its peak.
Key Takeaway Eco Mode saves gas by reducing acceleration power and engine rotations in the Explorer.

Does Eco Mode save fuel?

Although hard data is scarce, we’ll say this:
good driving habits probably save more fuel than Eco Mode
. In some cases, Eco Mode can even reduce your fuel economy. 
This is because when impatient drivers become frustrated by the engine’s sluggishness, they might end up pressing harder on the gas pedal than they would if they were in Normal Mode.
The best way to save gas is to drive efficiently. Fuel economy ranges from 19 to 28 mpg combined in the sixth-generation Explorer. Avoid all-wheel drive and thirsty engines like the Ford Explorer ST V6 if you want to stay in the upper range. Keep a light foot on the gas pedal, maintain your car, and avoid idling.
If you do use Eco Mode, understand that it isn't a miracle worker. It’s best paired with cruise control on the highway and a laid-back attitude in town.
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Does Eco Mode charge the battery?

Yes, but not as quickly as usual. The Explorer's engine spins the alternator, which converts that force into electricity for the battery. With Eco Mode, the engine still runs, but at a lower speed, so the battery charges more slowly.
MORE: Does Ford have a self-driving car?

How to turn Eco Mode on and off

To switch between drive modes, use the MODE button or the DRIVE MODE dial on the center console. With a little practice, you'll be able to switch between drive modes without even looking down. 
Start by turning on your car and checking the center console. On rear-wheel-drive models, you'll see a pair of buttons marked with arrows and the word "MODE". All-wheel-drive Explorers have a dial simply labeled "DRIVE MODE."
Cycle through drive modes on your instrument panel screen by pressing the buttons (or turning the dial). You'll know you're in Eco Mode when the screen flashes green and reads "Eco." Use the same method to select "Normal" to return to normal driving. 
You can also finish your trip in Eco Mode and turn off the ignition; the car will automatically return to Normal Mode once you turn it on again.
If in doubt, check your
owner’s manual
for more information.

Is Eco Mode worth it?

Ford’s Eco Mode makes a few adjustments to the Explorer’s driving dynamics, but it’s ultimately not enough to overcome bad driving habits. Its merits will only become obvious after you put some effort into patient and efficient driving. 
If you’ve got a lead foot, you’re better off putting your hopes in the
Explorer Limited
Hybrid. Its gasoline engine and electric motor combo deliver the top EPA rating of 28 mpg combined
There are two other Ford hybrids worth your time. Taking home a 9/10 and Editor's Choice Award from Car and Driver, the
is not only fuel efficient but also highly rated
Second on our list is the
Escape SE
, a compact crossover. You’ll lose about 50 cubic feet of passenger volume and gain 40 combined mpg (105 mpg) in return.
These hybrids might cost more to purchase, but their gas savings add up year after year. And if you’ve got a lot of exploring to do, they just might be worth it.
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