Key details of the 2023 Ford Explorer
- Explorer is a brand-new mid-size electric SUV sitting under the Mustang Mach-E
- Four or rear-wheel drive, two battery options
- Orders open later this year
- Up to 335bhp and a range estimated at up to 316 miles
New Ford Explorer: What is it?
The second electric SUV from Ford, reviving a name traditionally used on a big gas-guzzling American SUV and transforming it for the electric age.
The new Ford Explorer is also set to be the most affordable entry point for a Ford EV when it goes on sale, although even smaller and cheaper models are coming later.
Why should I get excited by the new Ford Explorer?
And more to the point, why is the Explorer name being used here? Well, Ford likes the name so much that it’ll be used twice globally.
This new EV is designed and built with European buyers in mind, so customers in the USA (Ford’s home market) will still be able to buy the much bigger, petrol-powered Explorer.
Speaking to GRIDSERVE at the reveal, the Explorer’s exterior design lead told us it’s a car “aimed at Europe” but one that plays on Ford’s “distinctly American” heritage, with ‘Explorer’ the ideal name for a go-anywhere model aimed at lifestyle buyers and active families. Well, it is the Land of the Free after all.
The new Ford Explorer is under 4.5-metres long, making it shorter than a Hyundai IONIQ 5. It also keeps it separate from the Mustang Mach-E,which is 25cm longer. It’s got a square-edged and rugged look, although it sits quite low to the ground for an SUV so seems more at home cruising on Route 66 than climbing the Rubicon Trail.
But the most interesting thing? The Explorer is actually a Volkswagen in drag. Alright, that’s a bit harsh, but this new Ford does sit on the same basic platform as the VW ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq underneath. Because the world of electric cars is so fast-moving Volkswagen and Ford have done a deal to combine brain power and resources, as well as some parts under the skin.
While Ford has saved time and money buy doing this, it claims to have added its own identity inside and out. From the outside its chunky, squared-off shape is very different to the curvier ID.4 and Enyaq.
LED lights all-round are connected by a full-width black plastic trim panel with prominent ‘Explorer’ lettering, while at the rear the windows wrap around to give a ‘floating’ roof effect. Wheel sizes range from 19 to 21-inches.
What’s the new Ford Explorer's interior like?
Well, not finished quite yet. The model that Ford used for the reveal had bits of gaffer tape holding some trim on, which unsurprisingly we won’t see in production. But although there’s some quality details and material upgrades to be finished, the actual design is as it’ll appear in showrooms.
That means we know the car’s dash will be dominated by a 15-inch portrait-angled touchscreen. The screen can be moved up and down by hand to adjust the angle through 20 positions, and with the screen in its most upright setting a secret cubby is revealed behind it for storing your valuables – or sticking with the American theme perhaps those chilli cheese fries you're hiding from your other half.
Speaking of storage, Ford calls the unit between the front seats the ‘Megaconsole’ with a whopping 17 litres of space – about the same as a large soft drink from a US fast food outlet. Bright, 10-colour LED light strips surround the driver and front passenger, and there’s a smaller display for the dials behind a square-edged steering wheel with touch-sensitive buttons on it.
There’s plenty of plush-feeling materials to make it feel classier, although as we’re car geeks we noticed items like the electric window and light controls are lifted from the Volkswagen ID.4.
New tech features include a big soundbar mounted right on top of the dash for blasting Bruce Springsteen, plus Ford’s latest software for full-screen sat-nav mapping.
So is it practical? It’s an electric SUV, so it needs to be. Inside there’s plenty of room for four adults, or five for short journeys, although a 450-litre boot is quite a bit smaller than the Volkswagen and Skoda. There’s an adjustable boot floor and the seats fold flat for 1400 litres of space (250 litres less than the ID.4), but there’s no ‘frunk’ or front boot like there is in a Tesla Model Y.
I’m intrigued. What is the electric range of the new Ford Explorer?
Ford is keeping technical details under wraps for now, but it’s expected that the Explorer will have a 52kWh (usable) battery in low-end versions and a 77kWh option for high-spec cars.
In the longest range version (with rear-wheel drive, a single motor and around 282bhp) Ford is targeting a range of up to 316 miles – a very competitive figure that’s not far off the Tesla Model Y Long Range.
Rapid charging speeds should be up to 170kW for this version, with lesser versions charging a bit more slowly. However Ford claims a 10-80% top up is possible in 25 minutes.
Also available is a top-of-the-range 335bhp four-wheel drive model (expect a 300-mile range for that) and an entry-level 168bhp rear-wheel drive version that’ll manage up to 220 miles on a charge. Those figures aren’t quite as impressive as other versions of the Model Y, but then this should be a cheaper car.
What are the Ford Explorer’s rivals?
It’s tough to ignore the hugely popular Tesla Model Y, too, especially as it’s more practical than the Ford. You should also consider the Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia EV6 and Nissan Ariya, or if you’re looking for a more premium badge check out the Jaguar I-PACE, Audi Q4 e-tron and Volvo XC40 Recharge.
New Ford Explorer: prices, specs and release date
The Explorer will be available to order in the next few months, with deliveries expected by the end of 2023 or early 2024 depending on various factors.
We don’t know how much it will cost yet, though. Ford representatives hinted at a starting price of around £40,000, which is about the same as an equivalent ID.4 and around £10k (or at least £200 a month with leasing) cheaper than a Mustang Mach-E.
We also don’t have spec detail yet, but Ford claims generous equipment even on entry-level trims including heated seats and a heated steering wheel, the dash-mounted soundbar and that large central touchscreen.
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