Ford Explorer spy photos – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ford seems to really like crossover vehicles. The Blue Oval lineup already sports the Escape, Edge and Flex, and within a year or so a unibody version of the Explorer will join the car-based utility party. And now we have more spy photos of what appears to be a next-generation Explorer mule disguised as a Taurus X Flex science experiment – most notable common features being an unexplained missing bar in the grille and an ill-fitting tailgate.

Gmfan1111 over at FoMoCoNews s forums says he spotted the mule outside of Ford's proving grounds, and he snapped three pics before losing the cobbled-together tester due to bad weather. Like the previous photos we've seen, the mule has a Flex-derived front end and from the A-pillar back it looks like a Taurus X. The new mule photos show yet another missing bar on the Flex front grille. We have no idea why the bar is missing, but one of the commenters on the FoMoCo forums guessed that the missing bar could be for feeding more air into an EcoBoost engine. Works for us.

The Ford Explorer America concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in 2008 looked wide and very SUV-like, and the large gaps on either side of the Taurus X tailgate shows that the new Explorer will likely be quite a bit wider. Click on the gallery below to get a closer look at these latest spy photos. Hat tip to Colby!

[Source: FordMotorCompanyNews]

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