The Chinese auto market is the largest in the world and nearly 26 million cars were sold in the country in 2021. That number is almost twice as much as compared to the United States with roughly 14 million cars sold last year. The Chinese market is also one of the most competitive and with the presence of strong local players, automakers from the western parts of the globe have to take extra efforts and make tweaks to their existing products so that they match the taste of Chinese car buyers.
Furthermore, many automakers from the west have set up manufacturing units in China not just for exporting vehicles but also to cater to the local market. American automakers also have facilities in China and build products specifically for that market. Moreover, many times, newer products are launched in China before they enter the American market. A heavily upgraded version of the Ford Explorer will be soon hitting the showrooms in China while Ford will continue to sell the current-gen Explorer in the United States.
With the popularity and demand for SUVs growing all across the world, Ford sold about 34,000 SUVs in China in the first 4 months of 2021 and it is pretty evident that China is a very important market for the US automaker. The new Explorer features heavy cosmetic upgrades and shares its design language with the Mondeo, which is yet another car that’s sold in China but not here in the United States. The mid-size SUV gets sharper styling, a fresh set of headlights, and a brand new front grille that gives it a rather snobbish appearance.
There are many differences between the updated Chinese-spec Explorer and the current US-spec Explorer. The Chinese version gets a new bumper and it looks soberer than before. The bumper has integrated fog lamps and L-shaped chrome trim on it. The rear has been changed entirely and there’s a large chrome bar that runs across the width of the car. The inverted hockey-stick taillights look very unique and at the bottom, there are two fake exhaust chrome tips. Lastly, there is bold Explorer lettering on both the front and rear fascias. The engines remain unchanged though and the Explorer will still be offered with a 2.3L Ecoboost engine as standard while the higher trims will feature a 3-liter twin-turbo V6.
The biggest difference is on the inside, however. The cabin has been entirely revamped and it now looks much plusher than the previous model. The interior design has an upscale appeal and it almost feels like you’re inside of a luxury SUV. The new Explorer gets a widescreen infotainment display that spans across the dashboard. The cabin has genuine wood veneer on the dashboard and the center console followed by high-quality leather trim around the dashboard, center console, and on the door panels. On the other hand, the new Explorer gets the same old circular gear selector dial along with a similar steering wheel carried over from the outgoing model. Detailed specs and features of the new Explorer aren’t out as of now.
Ford has a joint venture with Changan, one of the largest Chinese automakers, and both the companies will be jointly developing the Explorer. The new Explorer will be priced at around 309,800 yuan which is approximately around $44,000 which is a bit pricier than the one that’s sold in the United States. The US-spec Explorer starts at around $33,245. The upgraded Explorer will be making its way to the market for the 2023 model year in China.
As of yet, Ford hasn’t commented on whether the US-spec Explorer will receive the upgrade. The last time the Explorer had a major revamp was for the 2020 model year and it hasn’t had a major upgrade since. A facelift is much needed now and we hope that Ford brings in all the goodies to the US from China, especially the much plusher cabin design.
There were rumors about Ford driving in an all-electric version of the Explorer for the 2023 model year. However, Ford appears to have postponed those plans for about 18 months to work on the production of the Mustang Mach-E. We speculate that Ford might just update the Explorer in the United States for 2023 as the plans for an electric version have been shelved for a while. A major tweak could just stimulate the sales of the mid-size SUV.
The fact remains that Americans will have to wait for a while for the new Explorer to come in. While it is clear that we aren’t getting an all-electric Explorer anytime soon, a more luxurious Explorer might just be on its way. So, if you’re considering the Explorer, you might just want to wait for a few months until the launch of the new Explorer is confirmed for the United States market. If you cannot wait, the current Explorer isn’t a bad SUV either but you’ll probably miss out on the opulence and equipment that the new Explorer has got on offer.