Ford has a whole raft of new trucks coming out, stemming from its increased emphasis on big, high-riding vehicles as it shifts away from lower-slung passenger cars. And few of them will be as important as the new Explorer.
Currently in its fifth iteration, the Explorer is one of Ford’s hottest-selling nameplates domestically – behind only the smaller Escape crossover and the F-150 pickup. That means that Dearborn will likely be throwing the benefit of its entire weight behind the new model, and this is our best look at it yet.
Sent to us by eagle-eyed and avid reader Brett Borgard, these spy shots show what appears to be an entirely fresh Explorer. Like the current model – and unlike those that came before – it’ll be a crossover with unibody construction, not a body-on-frame truck.
It’s expected to make greater use of aluminum in its construction, but unlike the Blue Oval’s latest pickups, we’re expecting the bodywork to still be made (mostly) out of steel. It ought to offer more space and better packaging inside – something which buyers have naturally come to expect of big crossovers like the Explorer, and which the current model has not quite delivered as it should.
The bigger change with the forthcoming next-gen Explorer, however, is the switch in layout. Sources tell us to expect a longitudinal engine driving the rear wheels, with the option of all-wheel drive. Ford’s penchant for turbocharged engines will be evident in the new model, likely starting with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four. The 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 will also likely be available, but the model we’re looking forward to most, of course, is the new Explorer ST.
Taking the place of the current Explorer Sport, the new ST model will pack Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 producing somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 horsepower. That’ll make it not only more potent than the smaller, 335-horse Edge ST, but also the current, 365-horse Explorer Sport as well. Don’t expect it to come quite up to the level of the SRT versions of the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, though, with their big 6.4-liter Hemi V8s churning out 475 hp.
Look for the new Explorer to bow sometime early next year as a 2020 model, with the ST performance version to either accompany the base model at launch, or follow sometime soon thereafter.