Ford Authority

Off-Road Explorer FX4 Prototype Spied Testing And Looking Rather Rugged

The Ford Explorer is an excellent vehicle that has plenty of positive attributes to offer buyers. However, one thing aspiring customers don’t have the option of buying, at least right now, is an off-road Explorer variant. This seems like a big miss, given the incredible popularity of off-road focused vehicles and trim levels these days. But if these spy photos are any indication of what’s to come, Ford might just be working on an off-road Explorer after all, perhaps even an FX4 trim level for the SUV.

The prototype is sporting camouflaged front and rear fascias, but there are several characteristics here that are very much visible. That includes a set of aggressive Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 3 tires, which appear to be wrapped around a set of 18 inch wheels. As serious off-roaders already know, the marriage of smaller wheels and chunkier tires is an ideal combination.

Though it’s hard to tell definitively, it appears that the front fascia has received some updated and more aggressive styling. Out back, the rear bumper appears to present a better departure angle, while the overall ride height of this off-road Explorer prototype looks be increased over the regular model. Topping it off is a set of black plastic fender flares and lower bodyside molding to offer up some protection for the bodywork on the trails.

It makes perfect sense for Ford to offer, at the very least, its FX4 package for the Explorer. After all, it already sells the Ford Expedition, Ford Ranger, Ford F-150, and Ford Super Duty with that option. With the continued explosion in the off-road vehicle market and the incredible amount of excitement surrounding the new Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport, it would seem silly if the automaker didn’t start cooking up similar packages and/or trim levels for more of its existing products.

We’ll have more on this rugged new prototype as soon as we’ve got it, so be sure to subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Explorer news and around-the-clock Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Mr G

    I vote XLT

  2. JimL

    As an Explorer owner, I’ll say: It’s about damned time.

  3. Bob Dobson

    Very interesting but isn’t the buyer who wants an FX4 Off Road Explorer the buyer who just reserved a 2021 Bronco? The Performance Explorer ST is the version most demanded, seems counter intuitive.

    1. Karl

      Two different class and mission vehicles! The Explorer is a CUV/SUV 7seater while the new Bronco is a more traditional body on frame type off-road vehicle. Different audiences for certain.

  4. fpvfan

    I’m not against the idea of a more capable explorer as I’m a fan of the Ford Everest and hope the next explorer will use the updated concept front from the next gen ranger/Everest concept arts that put them more in line with the new F150 and be a serious improvement over the current explorer. With an FX4 package, it would be more competition to vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and actually a vehicle that could easily outperform the Grand Cherokee in ever aspect. For starters, the Explorer rides on Ford’s nearly perfect CD6 platform and as I can say from first hand experience is an amazing platform when it comes to road handling. With the versatility the CD6 platform has, I’m sure an FX4 package with Fox shocks, better ground clearance and a host of other things along with the beefy all terrain tires will make an FX4 explorer a wonderful camping/hunting/fishing/hiking partner (along with a Ford produced electric mountain bike with a charging bike rack). a bit of body armor, under body plates, frame sliders (not that this is going to be a rock crawler but a good off road vehicle should have these anyway), optional winch front and rear, a 400hp 3.0L V6 and a 10-speed along with a 2.7L with a 7-speed manual option and the explorer FX4 will be awesome.
    Even though Ford already has the Explorer ST, Ford still needs a hotter Explorer RS for the street to go directly againts the SRT392 Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s already known that the CD6 platform can (and does) use chassis parts from the current mustang, which means certain suspension and chassis parts from vehicles such as the GT500 should be able to be used on the Explorer RS along with a 450hp 3.5L Ecoboost V6 from the raptor, a 7spd DCT unit from the GT500, a high performance AWD system, Brembo brakes 20×10″ wheels, upgraded aero, active exhaust, Recaro interior, etc.
    Ford honestly need to seriously plunge as many vehicles as it can into the Ford Performance umbrella for on road and off road and electric categories. The CD6 platform explorer is a vehicle that really fits in the middle of everything right now as it is a perfect sized SUV for so many things. Comfort, capability and on and off road performance. Like so many other things with Ford, the company has proved that it can have performance without the use of big V8 engines. The 3.0L Hybrid (used in the Aviator) is near perfect in it’s performance, although it setup for more luxury than performance, 494hp and 630lb-ft of torque is absolutely remarkable and if Ford could tweak it to lean more on raw performance, Ford would have a serious powertrain on it’s hands. One that could be mated to even the 3.5L V6 from the Ford GT supercar for an insane 754hp/765tq, or even the raptor version of the 3.5L V6 to take it from 450hp/510tq to numbers more like 544hp/725tq (based on the increase from the 3.0 Ecoboost to the 3.0L Ecoboost hybrid). Even the 2.3L Hybrid is boasting numbers of 362hp/501tq. These numbers destroy the performance numbers of nearly every factory tuned American performance vehicle to date. Throw these kinds of powerplants into the CD6 platform vehicles such as the Explorer and new family of Mustangs and your looking at an entire new era of Ford Performance that can take Ford to a new level of awesome. We’ve already seen that Ford can squeeze crazy power out of electric vehicles such as the Cobra Jet 1400 and the Mach E RTR 1400. it’s time that Ford start focusing on its ecoboost and ecoboost hybrid performance and giving us affordable performance vehicles that the everyday person can comfortably afford.

  5. Keith

    The hell with all the turbo nonsense and paper stats. No one needs 700hp in a 4×4, they need a reliable naturally aspirated v8 or even a v6 that they can count on after the warranty expires. Unless of course your a leaser then you won’t use the capability anyway. Thankfully they put out the bronco as the explorer has turned into a pure soccer mom car.


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