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2022 Ford Explorer Is Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary

After looking closely at the 2022 Ford Explorer, Torque News has found that changes to the top-selling SUV are more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Posted: December 29, 2020 - 12:21AM
Author: Marc Stern


For the longest time, Ford has been a pioneer. Suppose you go back far enough in its history. In that case, you will find that it was perhaps the original automaker to offer a snowmobile-style vehicle. The Model T in the 1915 era could be purchased with a changeable rear axle that could be swapped to drive a tank-style tread on the rear. The front axle had to be swapped out so that it could mount a pair of mahogany skis. It was quite handsome in its way).

Ford Offers Soft-Roadability

Indeed, Ford also made it known widely that the same vehicle could be turned into a tractor. This was to meet Henry Ford's vision that people could become farmers, which he held to be an excellent vocation.

Fast-forward to the years of World War II and Ford, along with Chrysler, offered a series of all-wheel-drive trucks that the factory churned out in the thousands. It also offered a small, Jeep-like vehicle that familiarized many veterans for the war with all-wheel-drive. (It wasn't anything like today's all-wheel-drive that only requires the spin of a wheel to choose all-wheel-drive. No, the WWII vehicles were quite rough and used mechanically locking hubs that most operators left engaged).

We came to the 1960s, where Ford pioneered the personal SUV, also known as the original Bronco. Through the mid-1990s, the Bronco set the pace for personal SUVs. About 1996, the market overtook the Bronco, which was quite good at the time, and the automaker withdrew it. The Bronco brand is now back on the table.

In 1991 Ford launched the Explorer. Since its launch 30 years ago, the Explorer has become the best-selling SUV of all time with 8 million copies sold. The current model on the showroom floors of Ford dealerships remains the best-selling three-row SUV on the market.

Ford Offers Six Trim Levels

Overhauled extensively for 2021, the Explorer offers the same three-row design while it also offers connectivity and many updated safety features. The Explorer is available in six trim levels. They are:

  • Base
  • XLT
  • Limited
  • Limited Hybrid
  • Platinum
  • ST

The base and XLT use the standard small turbocharged four as the powerplant. They are 4X2 models (four-wheels with rear-wheel-drive). You can add all-wheel-drive as an option.

Moving into the pricier models, the Limited comes in both standard and hybrid versions, while the Platinum and ST offer twin-turbo V-6 engines.
Those looking at the competition should include the SUVs like Kia's Telluride, Hyundai's Palisade, and Mazda's CX-9, and don't forget models offered by GMC and Chevy.

Ford Adds To List for 2022
Among the changes Ford made during last year's huge makeover and carried over to 2022 Explorer:

  • Heated seats are now standard on the XLT with heated steering as an offered as an option
  • Eight-way, power-adjustable seats are also offered for the front passenger.
  • A Sports Appearance package is now available on XLT models and Limited, ST, and Platinum versions. The package includes aluminum wheels covered in Carbonized Gray paint.
  • Ford Adds Sports Appearance Package

  • The Sports Appearance package includes special underbody cladding, dual exhausts, Light Slate-colored interior seats, fake slip plates, and more. There is also a new cargo operator option available on XLT, Limited, and ST models. It is standard on the Platinum trim.

Looking closely at the exterior of the Explorer, we find the look is evolutionary. The front end sports a new grille, lighter housing, and shorter front overhangs. There is also higher ground clearance and better approach angles for off-road work.

The side view gives more definition of the changes. It features a tapering roofline with a sculpted surface, though the overall rework is said to look as if it has been on the road for years.

Moving to the inside, you'll find multi-contour seats that work with a tiered dash design that gives you more space. You'll also notice that an added 6.3 inches of wheelbase give you better first and second-row hip space.

Ford's Explorer Design Is Evolutionary

Overall, observers have said that the new version of the Explorer is just an evolution of the previous model.
Cargo capacity is up. For the first time, Explorer can fit a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood. Total capacity is 87.8 cubic feet available behind the front seats. And speaking of the seats, you will find the seats offer heating, cooling, and massage. The features are available in all three rows. And, for those who need to see the sky, there's a more extensive panoramic roof.

There's plenty of tech available that includes an updated Sync voice system that includes an eight-inch touchscreen. The tech also includes:

  • Wi-Fi capability for up to 10 devices
  • An available 10.1-inch portrait-sized touchscreen
  • A 14-speaker audio setup
  • Explorer Adds Digital Gauge Cluster

  • A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with animated 3D graphics that vary with the terrain. It is available on Platinum models with Terrain Management
  • Explorer also offers a wireless charging pad up front with three 12-volt outlets, two USB-A, two USB-C, and a three-pronged 110-volt outlet.
  • And, there's a full load of safety equipment, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, lane-guard assistance, and rear traffic alerts.
  • And, there is also adaptive cruise (intelligent) with traffic sign recognition, reverse brake assistance, and a 360-
    degree camera on mid-to upper-trim levels.

Base Powerplant Rated At 300 Horsepower

As to specifications, the base model weighs in at 4,345 pounds. The standard powerplant is the 2.3-liter turbocharged four rated at 300 horsepower with 310-pounds of torque available. This also means that Ford has dropped the 3.5-liter V-6. It is mated to Ford's 10-speed tranny. For those looking for a bit more, you should check out the Platinum model with its 365-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and 380-pounds-feet of torque. Other engines are still subject to change. And, don't forget the Explorer ST with its 400-horsepower twin-turbo (3.0-liter V-6 version of the Platinum engine). There's also the Limited Hybrid with its 3.3-liter V-6 and a 318-horsepower total output.

The 2022 Explorer is expected to go on sale during the upcoming summer.

Its base price will be up around $400 or $33,860.

Marc Stern has been an auto writer since 1971. It was a position that filled two boyhood dreams: One that I would write, and two that I write about cars. When I took over as my newspaper's auto editor, I began a 32-year career as an automotive columnist. There isn't much on four wheels that I haven't driven or reviewed. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. Today, I am the Ford F150 reporter for Torque News. I write how-to and help columns for online sites such as and others. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Most of Marc's stories are part of Torque News Ford coverage. Check back again and search for Torque News Ford F-150 news for more F-150 truck news coverage.

Another view of the 2022 Ford Explorer