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Ford gives the Explorer a comprehensive nip-and-tuck

The SUV gets some new toys with exterior and interior changes

The Explorer’s styling gets a nip-and-tuck, just so it could remain desirable. PHOTO FROM FORD

Since its inception in the ’90s, the Explorer has been Ford’s best-selling SUV in the US. The American brand kept that leadership for 35 years by tweaking it regularly.  This strategy makes sense as it will keep the model ahead of its competitors.

This makes even more sense now as crossovers and SUVs are dominating the sales charts globally. And so, three years after this generation’s launch in 2020, the American carmaker has updated the Explorer with better looks and smarter features.

Changes to the Platinum variant made the Explorer look more stylish and smarter. PHOTOS FROM FORD

The changes start with the exterior. The face has been completely changed, featuring a bigger front grille, flanked by new headlamp clusters and a reworked bumper. The side profile has remained unchanged, save for revised side cladding and new designs on available 18-, 20- or 21-inch rims.

At the back, the refreshed Explorer somehow copies the rear end of the Everest, especially the L-shaped tail/brake light arrangement and the horizontal nameplate right smack in the middle of the license plate garnish. Finally, four exhaust tips can be found on either side of the redesigned rear bumper.

The ST and ST-Line variants feature updates that make the family crossover sporty. PHOTOS FROM FORD

These updates make the new model a few millimeters shorter (down to 5,045mm from 5,049mm) and lower (1,783mm from 1,768mm) than the outgoing one. It also sits a tad bit closer to the ground (from 208mm to 193mm), but has the same wheelbase and width as the old one.

The interior—though roughly with the same dimensions—has been drastically changed. The dashboard, for one, got a major overhaul. It looks nothing like the current one, even with the choice of materials.

The Platinum’s interior oozes with elegance. PHOTOS FROM FORD

The instrument cluster is now fully digital. Speaking of screens, the one for the infotainment now measures a whopping 13.2 inches, five more than the current one. This time, Ford has also moved away from its beloved Sync 3 system to an Android-based infotainment OS (more on this later).

The HVAC vents—which used to flank the smaller display of the old—can now be found under the center screen, with a new set of controls. Down low in the center stack is where you’d find the redesigned wireless charging pad.

The ST-Line and the ST’s interiors are simple and classy, yet very sporty. PHOTOS FROM FORD

The interior is clad in leather, but depending on the variant—it may also come with suede inserts. There are also seven available ambient lighting color options to set the mood inside the vehicle.

The biggest change here is the availability of the new Ford Digital Experience. This Android-based system allows apps to be downloaded via the Google Play Store. The list includes music and video streaming applications.

Analog gauges and small screens out; huge displays in. PHOTOS FROM FORD

This gives occupants more entertainment options, especially when the vehicle is parked. It also gives priority to the use of voice, hence Google Assistant and Alexa are built into the system. That’s so you won’t have to be distracted while driving. It even allows games to be played should you get bored waiting for hours in a parking lot.

Also included is a 5G wireless hardware that can be used with a Ford Premium Connectivity plan. It gives the infotainment system access to the Internet and 10 other devices should you opt to activate its Wi-Fi hotspot option.

The choice of interior materials is top-notch. PHOTOS FROM FORD

Another huge feature is the inclusion of Ford’s BlueCruise hardware. The additional equipment makes it possible for users to enjoy “hands-free highway driving.” BlueCruise can control the braking, acceleration, and steering functions, which makes it easier for you to drive especially on long, cross-country trips.

The system includes features like Lane Change Assist that enables the vehicle to switch lanes automatically with a tap of the turn-signal indicators. In-Lane Repositioning makes the vehicle shift away from vehicles in adjacent lanes.

This has to be among the best implementation of ambient lighting in vehicles. PHOTOS FROM FORD

To use BlueCruise, the owner can choose from the available Connected Services plan. Should customers want to try the service, Ford offers a 90-day trial. If you want to continue enjoying the service, flexible plans like annual or monthly payment schedules are available, depending on your needs.

These services can be enjoyed via the FordPass Connect modem that can be installed in the vehicle.

Ford Digital Experience, BlueCruise, Premium Connectivity, and Connected Services make their way to the Explorer. PHOTOS FROM FORD

Powering the new Explorer is the same 2.3-liter EcoBoost in-line four or a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 for the ST variants. Power outputs are 300hp and 420Nm, or 400hp or 563Nm, respectively. These are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Power is sent to the rear or all four wheels.

Now, these features you just read are for the US-market Explorer, which starts at $41,200 (or P2.3 million). The SUV comes in four variants: Active, ST-Line, ST, and Platinum. In North America, buyers can get a unit by the second quarter of 2024.

The new Explorer’s looks are meant to turn heads and break necks. PHOTOS FROM FORD

Those who’d get the ST or the ST-Line even get a chance to attend Ford Performance Racing School’s “ST Driving Experience.” Here, they will be armed with information to maximize the capabilities of the sportier Explorer variants.

With all of these changes, Ford has just made the new Explorer even more desirable. The only question is: When will the Philippine market get one of these? That is a good question to ask since Ford is skipping this year’s Manila International Auto Show.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.