Ford is giving the most popular SUV in history, the Explorer, a new look outside and in just in time for the Chicago Auto Show.
The Explorer gets the new XLT Sport appearance package for 2017. The new package gives the SUVs a sportier look and gives buyers a total of six trim levels to choose from with the Explorer. The XLT Sport will be available this summer, officials said.
With SUV sales continuing to grow as gas prices remain low, the automaker is feeding the beast. While 30% of Explorer sales are its Sport and Platinum models, which are the top two trim packages. The XLT Sport nestles right in below those two while giving the ute a unique look.
“Our Sport Appearance philosophy is rooted in the fact that we know exterior appearance is the No. 1 consideration in SUV purchase decisions,” said Omar Odeh, Explorer brand marketing manager. “The XLT Sport Appearance Package is a dramatic offering that gives customers another attractive option.”
The new package includes the following upgrades:
- 20-inch Magnetic Gray wheels
- Magnetic Gray grille, mirror caps and rear appliqué
- Ebony Black body side cladding
- Black roof rack
- Explorer hood badge
- Dark Earth Gray leather for front seats, including outer bolsters by premium leather maker Salerno; Dark Earth Gray Miko suede for seat back uppers and inserts with Umber scrim, and door trim inserts; Umber contrast stitching
“In the market right now, across all our SUVs, customers are looking for unique colors, wheels and interior appointments,” said Odeh. “We’ve worked closely with Ford Design to deliver a unique look that will resonate with customers.”
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Styling is good, but if there’s no go with the show, buyers won’t be happy. In this case, the XLT Sport gets the 3.5-liter V6 engine with 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. In addition to the top-end EcoBoost, the XLT Sport features Intelligent Access with push-button start, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support and SYNC 3.
The package won’t be limited to the Explorer, it will cascade over to the Escape later in the year as well. The package includes premium 19-inch Ebony Black aluminum wheels and high-gloss upper grille; black beltline molding and front fenders; partial leather sport seats with contrast stitching, and more.
While the Explorer is getting some exterior style, the inside on another model provides some usability. Ford is teaming with BraunAbility to create a wheelchair-accessible SUV with a sliding rear door they’re calling the BraunAbility MXV.
“We’re thrilled the Explorer name is connected to such a highly respected brand like BraunAbility,” Odeh said. “Explorer has always been associated with helping people go places they otherwise could not, and BraunAbility MXV furthers that reputation.”
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The specially adapted SUV can be gotten with the base, XLT and Limited models, and in addition to the sliding door, features removable driver and passenger seats and a power ramp. The ramp and the door can be activated using a key fob. A tow package is also available.
Interior space is maximized to create ample room for wheelchair navigation and comfort. Wheelchair users can drive the vehicle from a wheelchair or ride as a passenger. Notable dimensions include:
- 55-inch usable side door opening height
- 28.5-inch usable ramp width
- 58-inch interior height (vehicle center)
- 59-inch interior height (for driver and passenger)
- 55-inch interior floor length behind front seats
- 59.5-inch interior width at B-pillar
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“Our customers are very excited to have a mobility option that reflects their individuality,” said Nick Gutwein, BraunAbility president and CEO. “For us, Ford Explorer was the obvious choice. It’s an iconic American vehicle that reflects the ultimate in independence and freedom.”