New Ford Explorer electric SUV revealed
New Ford Explorer electric SUV offers up to 310 miles of range – here's everything you need to know about it, including the price, specs and release date...
On sale Late 2023 Price from £40,000 (est)
In the entertainment world, for UK-based talent, ‘breaking into the US’ is essential because that country is one of the largest and most affluent on Earth. If you can make it there, they say, you can make it anywhere. Of course, the opposite can also be true. Take the new Ford Explorer, for example; in the US and mainland Europe, it’s been a household name for years, representing one of the brand’s larger SUV offerings. But its first attempt to gain a foothold in the UK – back in 1996 – wasn’t exactly a flying success.
This brand new Ford Explorer, though, has a much better chance of success. Underneath, it shares much with the Volkswagen ID 4 electric SUV, the Explorer being born from a technical collaboration between the two brands. Don’t think this will be a same-script, different-cast exercise, though, like so many US versions of UK TV shows; the new Explorer has a look all of its own, with a much boxier shape than the ID 4.
Explorer buyers will have a choice of three power outputs. The entry-level model has 168bhp from a single electric motor that drives the rear wheels, and the mid-range option boosts power to 282bhp. The 335bhp range-topping version, meanwhile, adds a second motor that powers the front wheels, giving the Explorer four-wheel drive – and more power than any version of the ID 4.
The Explorer is expected to use the same 52kWh and 77kWh battery packs that are offered on the ID 4, providing an official range of up to 310 miles depending on which version you go for. Some existing electric SUVs – including the ID 4 and Kia EV6 – can go a little farther on a charge.
Speaking of charging, the Explorer should be able to match the ID 4’s maximum rate of 125kW, so a 10-80% top-up could take as little as 35 minutes with a suitably fast charger. It’s worth noting that Explorer buyers will benefit from a discounted tariff when using the ultra-fast Ionity charging network.
The driver gets a 5.0in digital instrument cluster, but the dashboard’s centrepiece is a 15.0in touchscreen infotainment system that can be moved up and down to suit drivers of different heights. Haptic feedback is provided for adjustments such as volume (in response to customer feedback, Ford says), but we’d rather have physical buttons and dials, which are easier to use on the move.
More positively, our experience with Ford’s Sync software in the Mustang Mach E electric SUV hints that the Explorer’s system will be responsive, with clear graphics and logical menus
At the base of the screen, there’s a storage nook that contains a pair of USB-C sockets. It’s ideal for housing your phone while it’s on charge, and – when the screen is in its lowest position it’s a handy place to hide valuables.
A wireless charging pad is also standard, as are wireless connections for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, while a pair of ports in the back will keep passengers’ devices charged.
Back in the front, the Explorer’s centre console is as versatile as a daytime TV presenter; it can hold loads as diverse as a 15in laptop or three 1.5-litre drinks bottles. It also houses a divider that can be used as an emergency ice scraper, and the drinks holders can be lowered out of the way when not in use, or they can be removed altogether.
Available driver assistance features include a system that can execute a lane-change on the motorway for you (if you prompt it by activating the indicators) and a system which applies gentle steering inputs to keep you centred in your own lane. A self-parking system should help to take the stress out of finding a parking spot and manoeuvring into it, and a reversing camera and birds-eye view system promises to help avoid any embarrassing scrapes in packed multi-storeys.
In terms of practicality, the Explorer’s 450-litre boot is 93 litres smaller than that of the ID 4, but a couple of holiday suitcases or your weekly shop are unlikely to have it overflowing. And if you fold the rear bench down, a productive trip to the garden centre is eminently doable.
We expect prices for the Ford Explorer to start from around £40,000, putting it roughly in line with the ID 4 while usefully undercutting other rivals, including the EV6 and Nissan Ariya.
Emphasising just how important the Explorer’s European success is to Ford, it will be the brand’s first electric car to be built this side of the Atlantic. In fact, the American brand wants to be selling more than 600,000 electric cars across Europe by 2026 – four years before the sale of new petrol and diesel-engined cars is banned in the UK. The Explorer and existing Mach E won’t be on their own for long, either – an electric variant of the Ford Puma small SUV will soon follow, as will an expected electric replacement for the Fiesta small car. That new Fiesta will likely be based on the recently revealed Volkswagen ID 2.
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