New Ford Explorer is crucial European-focused SUV with rugged styling

20 Mar 2023

Ford has revived the Explorer nameplate for a new European-focused SUV that the firm says marks a “significant milestone” in the brand’s switch to electric power.

The new machine joins the Mustang Mach-E in the Blue Oval’s line-up of electric SUVs, but unlike that model the Explorer is designed primarily with a focus on conquering the mass market in Europe. It will take on the likes of the Jeep Avenger and Hyundai Ioniq 5 in a hugely competitive segment.

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The new machine takes on the Explorer nameplate that has been used since 1991 for a popular range of SUVs, and maintains similar rugged styling designed to evoke Ford’s American heritage.

The new machine has been styled and developed by the new Ford Model e business unit, and will be manufactured at the firm’s Cologne factory in Germany. Notably, it actually sits on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric platform, as used by the Volkswagen ID 4 and Skoda Enyaq iV that it will compete for sales against.

The Explorer is the first Ford machine to use the platform as part of a tie-up between the two car giants, with another known to be on the way. But this isn’t a badge-engineering exercise: as the styling and input of Ford’s design team shows, this isn’t merely an ID Ford (see what we did there)?

At 4460mm, the crossover is slightly longer than the ID 4. The styling definitely evokes Ford’s SUV heritage, with the new machine featuring a reinterpreted version of the Explorer’s front-end.

The Explorer will be offered in two power outputs, with two single-motor rear-drive systems and a range-topping twin motor version with all-wheel-drive. The rear drive options produce 125kW and 210kW, while the twin-motor version offers 250kW – notably, the latter is more powerful than any other MEB-based EV.

Ford hasn’t detailed battery options yet, but says it has a maximum ‘targeted driving range’ of 311 miles. That suggests that a 77kWh battery will be used, and it is understood models will also be offered with the 58kWh unit that also fits in MEB models.

Ford has also not disclosed fast-charging speeds yet, but it does say that all Explorer buyers will be given access to a special charging tariff with the Ionity network. The Explorer is offered with a heat pump to increase efficiency.

The engine grille has been reworked into what Ford calls a ‘shield’ design. There’s also a bold U-shape skid plate that helps make the car wider and more rugged, which also helps guide airflow around the wheels to improve aerodynamics.

The back of the car features a film rear window, while there are also distinctive C-pillar designs intended to give the roof a ‘floating’ feel. Buyers will have the option of 19-, 20- and 21-inch wheels.

The interior also is a pure Ford design, and features the firm’s latest Sync Move infotainment system with a 15in portrait-mounted central touchscreen. In a neat party trick, the screen can be raised or lowered by more than 30 degrees do it can be set for easy reach by drivers of different sizes.

The touchscreen is complemented by a number of physical controls, including a haptic trackpad. Adjusting the screen also hides a useful lockable storage area, and sits above a compartment with space to wirelessly charge two mobile phones. 

There’s a wraparound-effect cockpit, which is opened up by slim air vents and a soundbar-style speaker, while the driver gets a 5in digital instrument display as standard.

The centre console features what Ford calls a ‘MegaConsole’, which has a capacity of 17 litres. Apparently that’s enough to hold a 15in laptop or three 1.5-litre drinks bottles and a one-litre bottle (best keep the laptop and water bottles apart though) – and it even features a divider that can be used as an ice scraper.

The cupholders are removable, too, just in case you need extra space to rest your arms on. Meanwhile, you can relax in 12-way adjustable power seats, with standard seat heating and lumber massaging.

Meanwhile, there’s a 450-litre boot, with luggage capacity increased to 1400 litres with the rear seats folded. 

The Explorer is one of nine electric vehicles that the firm will offer in Europe by 2024, joining the Mustang Mach-E and commercial vehicles including the E-Transit, E-Transit Custom and E-Tourneo Custom.


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