Next-Gen Ford Explorer Going RWD, Adding Performance Model

Ford's next-gen mid-size SUV is going back to its roots!

When the sixth-generation Ford Explorer is introduced next year, reports indicate that this SUV will switch back to a rear-wheel-drive-based platform. Before the current model debuted with a transverse engine and front-drive platform, the Explorer had always been rear-wheel drive.

Unlike those rear-drive predecessors, the 2020 Ford Explorer will not switch back to a body-on-frame chassis. Instead, the new Explorer will ride on Ford's upcoming CD6 platform that will accommodate rear- and four-wheel drive models. The 2020 Ford Explorer will continue to be built in Chicago.

This new platform will also help the Explorer expand its powertrain offerings. Ford is expected to carry over the current 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder, but the 3.5-liter V-6 will be replaced by the F-150's 3.3-liter V-6. Ford has also confirmed that it will build a hybrid version of the 2020 Ford Explorer.

Perhaps the biggest news about the next-gen Explorer is the confirmation of a performance version. The all-new Ford Explorer ST will replace the current Explorer Sport, and it should offer a considerable bump in power. Instead of the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6, it will utilize Ford's 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, which has been exclusive to Lincoln products up to this point. Being that this engine will be positioned longitudinally and with a 10-speed automatic transmission, power output could surpass the engine's current ratings of 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.