Smokey drift SUV, anyone?
Ford has been giving us loads of stuff to talk about lately, revealing a new budget version of the Explorer called the Enthusiast ST earlier in the year. We've also just learned of a one-of-a-kind Explorer ST built by Ford Performance just for the track. There's clearly a lot going on in the performance Explorer range, and earlier this week, we heard a rumor that the Explorer ST would be losing all-wheel drive as a standard feature and would be going RWD for the 2022 model year. Well, it seems that the rumor was right, as Ford has just added to the Explorer ST range with a base RWD model while also giving us a new trim level called the ST-Line for the 2022 model year.
Don't worry - AWD remains available for those who want more surety, but the base Explorer ST now sends its power to the rear wheels. That power comes from the familiar 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine producing 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque, which is managed by a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Ford Explorer marketing manager Lee Newcombe explains the decision to change things up: "No two SUV drivers use their vehicles the same way, so our goal is to meet the needs of as many as possible. Four-wheel-drive capability is great if you need it, but if you don't, you shouldn't have to pay for it. These changes to the Explorer lineup were guided by what our customers told us they wanted."
Ford has also accounted for those who don't necessarily need to go fast but want a sporty look with a new Explorer ST-Line. Positioned between the XLT and Limited trims, the ST-Line is "designed for drivers who favor the performance-inspired appearance of the ST brand but don't require its full power and capability". It features 20-inch wheels and other ST-inspired features like a blacked-out grilled, dual exhaust tips, tinted headlights and taillights, and a black EXPLORER hood badge.
Inside, you get Ebony Black ActiveX seats with suede Miko inserts that are heated in the first row, a heated sport steering wheel, and red contrast stitching. ST-Line scuff plates and floor mats feature too. Tech includes a 12-speaker sound system from Bang & Olufsen, voice-activated navigation, wireless charging, a surround-view camera, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Rounding things out is the Ford CoPilot360 Assist+ suite of driver aids that includes evasive steering assist, and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist.
The Explorer ST-Line is now the most affordable sport-inspired version of the Explorer, starting at $7,570 less than the original Explorer ST (which has a base price of $49,000 for the 2021 model year) and $2,575 less than the Explorer Enthusiast ST we mentioned earlier.
Ford has also added to the rest of the Explorer lineup by giving the King Ranch and Platinum trims the same 400-hp output as the ST, as well as the standard inclusion of the Technology Package that adds a 10.1-inch touchscreen, multi-contour seats, and a 14-speaker B&O sound system. Meanwhile, second-row bench seats can now be swapped out for captain's chairs at no extra cost. Timberline models can get a bench seat in the second row too, and the XLT Sport Appearance Package adds Ebony seat bolsters with Light Slate inserts as a new offering. Finally, Stone Blue and Burgundy Velvet arrive as new exterior colors.
The 2022 Explorer will arrive in showrooms later this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the time.