A prototype for Ford’s next-generation Explorer has been spotted for the first time. The vehicle is expected on sale in the second half of 2018, as a 2019 model.
The last time the Explorer was redesigned was in 2011, when the popular SUV adopted car-like unibody construction and an inline-4 as the base powertrain. The 2019 model should follow a similar formula, though it looks to be growing in size.
The photos from Motor Authority reader Tom Poeschel hint at evolutionary changes to the Explorer’s styling for the upcoming redesign. There’s still a big, blocky shape plus space for three rows of seats, and the treatments for the lights and greenhouse appear similar to the current model.
Ford has much more radical changes for the parts we can’t see, however. The 2019 Explorer is expected to be one of the first models to ride on Ford’s next-generation platform for larger models. Code-named the D6, the platform is once again a front-wheel-drive-based design (with available all-wheel drive) and will spawn models for both Ford and Lincoln. In fact, there are rumors the 2019 Explorer will be twinned by a new Aviator SUV replacing the unloved MKT.
Ford's newfound love of aluminum should continue with the 2019 Explorer to help reduce weight and in turn improve economy. And once again the base powertrain should be a turbocharged inline-4. This time around we should see a 9-speed automatic instead of the aging 6-speed in the outgoing model. Those seeking greater performance will have to settle with a turbocharged V-6. And don’t be surprised if a hybrid model joins the lineup down the road.