It quickly became popular with just about everyone, yet I would argue that no Explorer took as big a leap forward as the fifth generation did.
Not many people know this, but one man played a key role in the development of the fifth-gen Explorer, specifically Jim Holland, who was chief engineer at Ford from 2008 up until late 2010. Before that, he used to work for Land Rover, where he oversaw the development of the updated 2005 Range Rover. He clearly knew how to design handsome, rugged products.
Some still believe that the fifth-gen Explorer is a better-looking vehicle than the current model, and they do make a fair point, but it really depends on the spec and the angle from which they’re being admired. I think both these past two Explorers look great, and that they offer excellent value for money in all departments.
At this point though, it really is time for us to wonder what’s going to come next as far as this nameplate is concerned, and no, I’m not just talking about the new Explorer EV, which was unveiled earlier this year.
The Explorer EV is aimed mostly at European buyers, so there’s little to no reason for Ford to ever bring it over to the States, especially since it would target some of the same people who would otherwise purchase the Mustang Mach-E.
But no. What I’m talking about is an all-new, seventh-generation Explorer, aimed at North American buyers. We know it’s going to happen; we just don’t know how soon and what type of powertrains it’ll feature. That doesn’t mean we can’t speculate though.
Anyway, the current Explorer has only been with us for about four and a half years, and if we go by the law of averages, one might deduct that it could endure another two years or so, right up until (or into) 2026, when it might debut as a 2027 model year vehicle. Makes sense? Great.
The more things changeIn terms of styling, we don’t really know what it’s going to look like, which is why our exclusive rendering is sort of a clean slate type of deal. It’s not based on the current variant, nor is it based on the European Explorer EV.
What it does do is match the current Explorer in terms of wheelbase, body height, plus front and rear overhang. It’s a similarly-proportioned SUV, which is likely to be the case anyway – I don’t see it shrinking or growing for that matter, because Ford aren’t interested in moving away from a segment they’ve been dominating for so long.
Otherwise, the design is both stylish and utilitarian, a sort of best of both worlds – which works just as well for an internal combustion engine product, as it does for an EV. We can't be sure what Ford’s going to do with the seventh-gen Explorer in that department, but we don’t see them abandoning internal combustion units just yet – the best bet would still be some type of hybrid power.
We also wanted to show you not just different colors, but different specs, which is why we have an image where this vehicle features a blacked-out roofline and mirrors, for a more “floating” effect. It’s how carmakers nowadays make their SUVs look less tall than they really are.
Last but not least, our next-gen Ford Explorer gets traditional door handles, because law enforcement operators aren’t going to bother with gimmicked locking mechanisms.
But what do you guys think? Is our take on the next-gen Explorer represent something you’d consider purchasing, or would you rather see this model retain its sort of more angular and boxier aesthetic well into the 2030s? Sound off below.