• Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
2019 Ford Explorer ST
  • Image Credit: Brian Williams
We learned of a rumor that the next-generation Ford Explorer will be going to a rear-drive platform and will pick up a high-performance ST model in 2020. Well, it looks like the latter of those two may be happening sooner than expected. Spy photos reveal a carefully covered Explorer being tested, and it sports a number of sporty appearance items that would look right at home on a hypothetical ST iteration.

In the front, the grille has been given a black-painted mesh grille. The mesh itself has roughly the same hexagonal pattern seen on the recently launched Edge ST. The main grille also seems to be taller than that of a normal Explorer. The lower grille, too, is bigger, and it features the same mesh design as the main one. At the back, the most telltale sign of added performance is the sizable spoiler atop the hatchback. One red herring left for viewers of the SUV is the full-width taillight design. It looks pretty convincing, but it seems to be hiding a badge in the middle, and looks more like a way to convince people the crossover is a Durango, not an Explorer. So the only functional taillights are the ones that look like those on every other Explorer.

Most of the rest of the prototype Explorer looks identical to the current model. And considering the body enhancements are clearly designed to work with current body shape, and the wheels seem to fit more or less properly, we believe the production version will be a faster, sportier version of the current Explorer. As such, it will probably be modeled after the Edge ST, so sportier suspension, styling and interior trim, along with a hopped-up version of an existing engine, and a version of the current Explorer's front-drive based all-wheel-drive system. The obvious choice for greater performance would be the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, which already makes 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque in regular Explorers. It likely wouldn't be difficult to find a similar 20 extra horsepower and 30 extra pound-feet like with the Edge ST. In the most recent twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 found in the Expedition, Ford can get up to 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet, though there may be differences in the engines that would prevent turning up the power in the Explorer version that high.

Finally, since this potential Explorer ST looks to based on the current model, we expect we'll see it very soon, probably by the end of the year. And if the rumor of an all-new Explorer coming in 2020 is true, Ford would want to get an ST based on the current model out as soon as possible before it becomes outdated by a new model.

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