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]