Is This the New Ford Explorer ST?
We recently learned that Ford is bringing the 2019 Edge into the ST performance family. That was a bit of a surprise considering the ST badge has only graced cars in the past. But I guess it’s a sign of the times. Canadian buyers are ditching their cars en masse in favour of SUVs. The next-generation of Fiesta isn’t even coming to North America. So, if Ford wants to continue delivering bonafide racing dynamics to the masses, it has to focus (so to speak) on its crossovers. Therefore, get ready for the 2019 Explorer ST.
The next-generation of Ford Explorer may not arrive until late next year, but prototypes have already been spotted performing tests. While they’ve been heavily camouflaged, the new architecture is pretty difficult to disguise. The new Explorer looks a bit more squarish and brutal than the current iteration. Finally, the rear fascia features a long light bar, which may just be a red herring. That’s not altogether surprising given the look of the 2018 Expedition.
What makes us suspect that this is an ST model? The main giveaway is the large, hexagonal mesh grille which has become an ST signature. A couple years ago, that wouldn’t be enough to make a conclusion. But now, with the 2019 Edge ST is on its way, it’s not a surprise. Plus, the Explorer ST has been widely reported.
If you’re thinking that the spirit of the ST lineup – affordable, track-ready performance – might be difficult to bring an SUV the size of the Ford Explorer. And you’d be right. Which is why Ford isn’t taking any half measures. The next Explorer will be built upon the modular CD6 platform. It’s a flexible base for the new SUV, allowing for front, rear, and all-wheel drive layouts. The Explorer will, of course, default to rear with an option for all-wheel drive.
Under the hood will probably be the same twin-turbo V6 that currently propels the new Lincoln Navigator. There, it delivers 450 horsepower and 510 lb/ft of torque – which would be more than enough to launch an Explorer with alarming speed. But do we even need that much power?
Right now, Ford offers the Explorer Sport. It comes with a unique sport-tuned suspension (independent front and rear) and Intelligent 4WD. It also offers the sportiest wheel options and grille as well as some advanced safety tech. Under the hood, it has a 3.5L EcoBoost, good for 365 horsepower and 350 lb/ft of torque. It’s a highly competent powertrain and more than capable of delivering some fun to your your weekly commute and weekend adventure.
It is not, however, a track-worthy SUV. And, of course, it doesn’t it doesn’t have the ST-specific features like aluminum race pedals and RECARO seats. The Explorer Sport is a great family SUV, but it still belongs to the realm of pragmatism – a place where you won’t find a turbocharged Fiesta with sport bucket seats. So, maybe there is room in the Ford SUV lineup for more pulse-pounding action.
Are you excited for the Explorer ST? Or do you think Ford risks muddying its performance badge by sticking on vehicles that are more rugged than race-ready?