Judging from the branding on the event invitation, which features an alpine landscape graphic, count on Ford to play up the Explorer's appeal to rugged, outdoorsy types.
"Explorer is the all-time best-selling SUV in America," Ford said in its invitation. "Almost 8 million have made their way into driveways and trails across the U.S. This sixth-generation of the Ford Explorer is our most advanced and adventure-ready version ever."
We got our latest and best look at a lightly camouflaged version a month ago. It uses the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the new Lincoln Aviator and tracks closely with the Police Interceptor version of the Explorer. It's expected to offer an array of engine options, likely including the same turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that performed so well in the Michigan State Police's performance tests.
The media-only unveiling comes in the middle of the week before the opening of the Detroit Auto Show, and it comes as Ford plans a new-product offensive that will see it replace 75 percent of its U.S. lineup in the next two years. Ford recently showed many of its upcoming vehicles, including the Explorer and the 2020 Escape, at a dealer conference in Las Vegas, leading us to wonder whether they might also be planning a separate reveal at the auto show itself, where it does have a news conference planned. Maybe the new Escape?
Next month's North American International Auto Show will mark the last time the event is staged in January in Detroit, as the event moves to June starting in 2020. That's in large part out of a recognition that many automakers were either skipping the show altogether or were holding standalone product reveal events outside of Cobo Center, a la Ford.