The Explorer was spotted in the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava, though there was no disguise for this SUV that was launched in 2011 with Range Rover-inspired styling.
Ford Australia is in the process of rolling out a comprehensive range of SUVs to join its locally built Territory. They include the mid-sized Kuga that is officially launched this week ahead of a March 1 on-sale, the compact, Fiesta-based EcoSport due in late 2013, and the upcoming (but still officially unconfirmed) Ranger-based SUV.
The local car maker, however, has confirmed the Explorer is not about to make it a high five of Ford SUVs in Australia.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” said Ford Australia spokeswoman Sinead Phipps. “That [Explorer] would just have been part of a globalisation program. Models like Explorers and Mustangs are being tested here all the time.”
The Ford Explorer spotted was a left-hand-drive vehicle – with the accompanying warning sign placed on the left rear.
The Explorer, which moved from a body-on-frame chassis to a car-like unibody construction in 2011, is slightly longer than the Territory but would still step on the toes of the homegrown model as they are both large SUVs offering seven seats.
The Ford Explorer was last sold locally in 2006, phased out two years after the launch of the Territory that went on to have critical and commercial success in its early years before the lack of a diesel variant and significant investment curtailed sales.
Territory’s future remains unclear beyond 2016, however, along with the related Falcon large car. Neither vehicle fits into Ford’s ‘One Ford’ strategy that is gradually creating a single vehicle per segment to be sold all around the world.
The Explorer is a more natural fit for the global large SUV role, not least with its more established nameplate.