• May 14th 2010 at 1:31PM
  • 24
Between 1995 and 2004, the Ford Explorer was the best-selling SUV in America. Of course, we all know what's taken place in the last few years, and both the Explorer and the SUV market it helped to found have taken a nosedive in both overall sales and perceived desirability. Ford looks to put its Explorer back on an upward trajectory for the 2012 model year with a brand new version, this time based on the same architecture that underpins the slow-selling Flex.
Will it work? Our crystal ball is currently on the fritz, but we can say with certainty (because it's obvious) that the next Explorer's success will be closely tied to its abilities. And that we won't know that until we get our grubby mitts on an example to test, which isn't likely to happen for another few months.

Until then, all we have are spy shots and this one lone teaser image that shows a portion of the next-gen Explorer's hood, which is a clamshell design similar to the latest Range Rover's. See for yourself (look to the right). That's Jim Holland, chief engineer for the redesigned Ford Explorer and formerly of Land Rover, where he worked in a similar capacity on the redesigned 2002 Range Rover.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Ford Explorer is dead. This is just an updated version of the Ford Freestyle/Taurus X
      • 5 Years Ago
      My opinion,

      Since the flex is already a good mover, give it reverse minivan doors and call it a van. Will bring on my liking of the 2005 ford fairlane concept. Also I think the 2012 Explorer will fit in more against the Pilot, Lambda crossovers from Honda, and GM, and have decent offroading than some unbelievers would think. Why else would Ford give the Explorer select terrain option, its not like some of u flodgers would go off road anyway. I believe ford is trying to take America back from Import but how can they if America won't support and let the 20 century stay in the past. No word else!!!!!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not surprised at all the Flex is selling poorly. And in Cali it's actually a rare sight for me. I think I've seen 3-4 Flexes, total.

      That said, I really do like the new Explorer, at least how it looks. That's saying a lot, considering I don't like how SUVs look in general.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you wish to go off-road buy a Grand Cherokee or 4Runner instead.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looking at earlier spy pics:


      I see they've filled in the rest of the headlamps with that orange reflector crap, that'll be interesting. Would have been nice had they just left it darkened out like the spy pics. I'm also going to guess by the lack of detailing around the edge of the explorer's grill on this pic that the spy pic is the sportier or nicer model
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think the Flex is hampered because people see it as a wagon, not a crossover. Plus, it is pretty big. I think the Explorer will fare better. GM moves alot of very similar vehicles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am surprised every time I read that the Flex isn't selling well. They are all over California, and they should be. The Flex seems like the best possible solution for someone that needs 7 seats in his or her car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agree. I'm in Southern California, where most people still drive imports, and I've seen a ton of Flexes around (also tons of Fusions and Fusion Hybrids). They say that the coasts, especially California, are indicative of car-buying trends, so maybe it has yet to sweep the rest of the nation? Dunno.

        I DO think the "import only" mentality is changing. That mentality seems to be big with baby boomers and Gen X, but as Gen Y starts getting into real power car-buying mode, I think it'll change. Ford and, to a lesser extent, GM, are coming out with compelling products that are very competitive, and the younger generation doesn't have a clear memory of the crappy American cars from the 80s and early 90s. They'll choose based on which car they think is best for them. I'd definitely take a Fiesta over a Corolla, for example, or a Fusion over an Accord -- for styling reasons alone. Reliability is not the huge concern or selling point it was even five years ago, so no need to automatically default to the imports.

        My opinion, at least.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Also agree. Here in Phoenix I see at least two a day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love the Flex. It looks way better than the Edge. I'd love to see an Flex 'shopped to the Edge length. Flex looks way better than the Lincoln Balleen Whale Version. Just looks classy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Umm...no! Pulling "my parents" once again to point out average car buying perceptions: My parents had a Highlander but with grandkids visiting them on trips to Disneyworld they felt they needed more room. So the beige lovers went out and bought a Toytota Minivan. Now it's been a few years, the grandkids don't want to visit and they want a new vehicle. "Not another minivan" says mom. On the phone we are discussing various crossovers. When I mention the Flex it was dismissed as a "minivan". And that is the rub. The Flex is believed to be a minivan. Which is a shame cuz' a neighbor of mine has one and I think it's a good looking crossover thingy.

      So when the Explorer comes out I assume and am just guessing but "my parents" and others will think of it as an SUV. Not the Hummer-ish SUV or the Expedition but still an SUV. Crossover fans will have the Edge which I prefer myself. And the Explorer will tap into the leftovers who want an SUV to drive on the 405.

      Ford may luck out with the launch of the Explorer just when people are getting confident enough to buy again. Of course by then all of the Gulf Coast may be covered in Oil and people may be back to Hybrid and small car love again! Ahh..it's a crap shoot. Good Luck Ford!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford has been on a very impressive roll recently with terrific product, but I can't help but think the new Explorer will be a miss. What hole does this vehicle fill in a line-up that already boasts the Flex, Edge and Expedition?

      It would make sense if the Explorer were an old-school, Toyota 4Runner type vehicle with significant off-road ability, but given its migration to a unibody platform, I can't imagine that it will be significantly more capable in this regard.

      I'm perplexed by this new Explorer and I think consumers will be as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I take your points John, but it would make more sense for the Ford - in my humble opinion - to replace both the Explorer and Expedition with a vehicle that competes with most of the vehicles you mentioned - the Sienna and Oddysey not so much.

        I may be completely worng about this, but it looks to me that the new Explorer will be "too small" to compete with the Acadias, MDXs, CX-9s, Pilots of the world, while the Expedition is still "too big".

        And aren't they planning on putting a 2.0L Ecoboost 4 cylinder in this thing as one of the engine choices? It can't be a size competitive with the other vehicles you mentioned and still work with a sub-200 horsepower engine can it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        And don't forget the Escape. It's a crowded stage in the family.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with you, Jamie. It isn't clear to me what this Explorer brings to the Ford product line that isn't already covered.
        • 5 Years Ago

        #1. Its not about -actual- off-road abilities, but the appearence of off-roading abilities

        #2. The "Flex" has the issue thats is pretty much a mini-van in terms of dimensions, but is no where near as flexible.

        The Flex is the car that is out of place. A "SUV/Cross Over" that is low-riding and compromised in cargo carrying. But I can see a few progression

        Seriously though, the Pilot, Highlander, Traverse, 4Runner, Journey, Grand Cherokee, MDX, Odyssey, Sienna, Arcadia, Enclave, SRX, Current Gen Explorer... all of these outsell the Flex. Many are priced higher. Many are higher and more limited.... (and old compared to the Flex). Ford needs a car that plays in this market.... the Flex is not cutting it so....
      • 5 Years Ago
      Holy turn signal batman!
      • 5 Years Ago
      That dude's either really short or that hood is really tall.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I totally agree. If you compare the front end height of the vehicle in the "spy photo" to the PR image - there is a major discrepancy. The spy photo looks more like a Kia Borrego :(

        The PR image actually had my hopes up that they weren't going to neuter the "original" SUV. Oh well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or the Explorer is on a platform.
        • 5 Years Ago

        The original SUV was the Cherokee and it was killed nine years ago.

        The Explorer hasn't been a real SUV since it lost its Ranger underpinnings and got independent rear suspension and lost its skid plates.
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