Ford has unveiled the updated Explorer in China as the company's new flagship model, complete with a redesigned exterior and a new massive screen inside the cabin. The Chinese website refers to it as a brand-new model, but it is more accurately described as a comprehensive facelift of the sixth-generation Explorer, which was introduced in 2019.
The model first appeared in spy photos in February of this year, with detailed but unofficial photos surfacing on the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Technology in April. The SUV is expected to make its official debut in late August at the Chengdu Auto Show.
The 2023 Explorer is instantly recognisable from the side due to the carry-over body panels. The updated design includes a larger grille flanked by slimmer bumper intakes, new LED headlights connected by an LED strip, and Explorer lettering on the hood.
The rear end is modified with horizontally mounted LED tail lights and a chrome strip between them. The revised rear bumper has a more prominent skid plate with dual exhaust pipes. The Explorer is slightly longer than before due to redesigned front and rear ends.
The most significant update is the dashboard, redesigned in the style of a "high-tech cockpit of yachts." The new horizontally-arranged 27-inch infotainment touchscreen replaces the portrait-orientation unit found in the global Explorer. All trims get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heads-up display, a B&O audio system, tri-zone climate control, and an array of ADAS that gives it L2+ autonomous capability.
The Chinese-spec Ford Explorer retains the turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, which produces 272 hp (203 kW / 276 PS) and 425 Nm (313 lb-ft) of torque. A 10-speed automatic transmission directs power to either the rear wheels or all four via an intelligent AWD system.
Changan Ford in China manufactures the Explorer, with a market debut expected in the coming months. We don't know if the styling and technology updates will make their way into future global models, but some reports suggest that they will be reserved for the Chinese-spec model, providing more differentiation than before.