While the rugged Everest is confirmed to launch in our market around the third quarter of next year and the Edge (in five-seat form at least) appears a near certainty to succeed the Territory as a more car-like soft-road offering, the Explorer is available only in left-hand drive and won’t be headed our way in its updated guise.
That rules out any chance of a local return for the Explorer until at least the end of the decade, given the next-generation version is not due internationally until around 2018, and even then remains unconfirmed for right-hand-drive production.
The updated Explorer is aimed at the North American market, however, and in particular the new Platinum grade is targeting premium rivals such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit and the GMC Yukon Denali.
New features added to the enhanced 2016 Ford Explorer include front and rear camera with washers, active park assist for semi-automatic reverse parallel and perpendicular parking and exiting, kick-operated power tailgate, a new 500-watt Sony audio system, and USB charging ports throughout the cabin.
They come on top of a number of technologies already available in the previous Explorer including adaptive cruise control with collision warning and auto braking, lane keeping system, blind spot and cross traffic alert systems, auto high beams, and inflatable rear seatbelts.
New under the bonnet is a 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo petrol engine that will deliver at least 201kW and 406Nm, boosting both power and torque by more 10 per cent compared with the old 2.0-litre unit.
Ford says the new engine will deliver “a noticeable improvement” in performance without sacrificing fuel efficiency, and for the first time will allow four-cylinder Explorer customers to equip their vehicle with four-wheel drive, the terrain management system and a towing package.
Two 3.5-litre V6 petrol engines – a naturally aspirated unit with 216kW and 345Nm, and a turbocharged mill with 272kW and 474Nm – will also be available in the updated range.
The 2016 Ford Explorer marks 25 years of the nameplate, which has found more than seven million homes in the US alone since its launch in 1990.