Performance isn't just for passenger cars anymore, Ford said Thursday. The automaker confirmed at a press conference in Dearborn, Michigan, that it plans to unveil a Ford Explorer ST—a sporty version of the next version of its three-row crossover SUV.
Though Ford was short on details, the automaker offered up its new Edge ST as an example of what's on deck for the venerable Explorer nameplate. A new Explorer is due in a year or two, likely as a 2020 or 2021 model, and Ford officials say the Explorer ST will be based on the redesigned model.
The Explorer ST nomenclature brings the lineup in line with the Edge, and it could spell the end of the line for the Explorer Sport Ford currently offers as its performance hauler. The Explorer Sport that's been on sale since 2013 features a 365-horsepower, twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 and standard all-wheel drive, which trumps the Edge ST's 335-hp twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6.
In Dearborn, Ford reiterated its commitment to hybrid powertrains for the next Explorer, so it's possible that the Explorer ST will be the automaker's first electrified performance crossover.
Frankly, we don't know much about the next Explorer. The current Explorer's basic design dates back to its 2011 model year debut, albeit with a refresh for 2016. Translation: A redesign is long overdue. Camouflaged test mules spotted last year show off a similar shape and proportions to the current model. Now we'll know to look for more underhood muscle, too.