Spied: 2020 Ford Explorer, Possibly in ST Guise

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
spied 2020 ford explorer possibly in st guise

As you hopefully read on TTAC earlier this week (if not, read it here), there’s some significant changes in store for the next-generation Ford Explorer. Expected to debut next year as a 2020 model, the upcoming Explorer ditches its front-drive-biased platform for a rear-wheel-drive setup, our sources say.

The change is made possible by the switch to Ford’s modular CD6 platform, which accommodates front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive configurations. The engine lineup sees a similar shakeup, with a new variant spawned by the addition of a motor currently found only in the Lincoln stable. Yes, the ST badge is coming to the Explorer line.

Think of it as a high-riding, three-row Fiesta — a model Ford doesn’t want us to have anymore.

It’s not the camo’d up current-gen Explorer test mule we’ve seen in other spy photos, that’s for sure. Don’t expect those long tailpipes to reach the showroom floor, but the body — what we can see of it — certainly will. Until the disguised model starts shedding its clothes, it’s hard to see the design as anything other than an evolutionary take on the well-received current model.

If this is indeed the ST model, we’re not seeing any lower body flourishes that would give it away. The brakes definitely do not appear upgraded.

One item of note is the integrated trailer hitch receiver in the rear bumper and corresponding seven-pin plug. Ford apparently wants more boaters behind the wheel.

Any ST trim will require improved handling dynamics to go with the hotter engine, otherwise you’re just tossing around a two-ton SUV that won’t be able to use the added horsepower to full effect. Well, as fully as a utility vehicle can. Like the 2019 Edge ST, the go-fast Explorer should a receive suspension upgrade and a sport mode capable of fine-tuning the vehicle’s throttle response, shift points, and exhaust note.

According to our sources, the ST should also gain a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Currently, that engine makes 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft in the Lincoln Continental. Base engine duties for the upcoming Explorer line will be handed over to the F-150’s new 3.3-liter V6, featuring dual port injection. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder carries over, and a hybrid 3.0-liter variant should appear, as well.

[Images: Brian Williams/SpiedBilde]

Join the conversation
2 of 42 comments
  • Arthur Dailey So they cut the roof off the hatch area of a Dodge Journey?
  • Desertwanderer Across Australia, from Sydney to Perth, via the Nullarbor Highway. Desolate, very impressed to pass a bicycle tourist somewhere in the middle, I think he'd have a story to tell. Oh, and the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, NS, in my S4.
  • Cprescott Please stop production of all Camry's - they are hideous and vomit inducing ugly.
  • Cprescott Excellent! Complete garbage.
  • Kos65701744 A lot of people back then didn't like the downsizing idea, which is why some didn't sell better than before. Which is why in final gen sales were record high in sales. My own father wouldn't buy a downsized GM car, he switched to a Ford LTD, a nice car but he hated it but wanted a big car