2020 Ford Explorer getting ST treatment?

The 400-horsepower ST will replace the current Explorer Sport.

Last year, Ford said it was open to putting its performance-oriented ST emblem on crossovers and SUVs. It made good on its promise in Detroit when it launched the 2019 Edge ST, and sources from within the company suggest the Explorer is next in line.

The current-generation Explorer won't get the ST treatment. It's nearing the end of its life cycle and it wasn't developed with performance in mind. Instead, the ST model will sit at the very top of the next Explorer's line-up. Visually, it will get a sportier look with black and red accents, model-specific wheels, and a full body kit.

It's what's under the hood that's most interesting, though. The Truth About Cars reports the ST (which will replace the current Sport trim) will arrive with an evolution of the twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 engine currently found under the hood of Lincoln's Continental and MKZ models. It will make over 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

Comprehensive suspension and braking modifications will help keep the power in check. TTAC adds the next Explorer will inaugurate a brand-new modular platform developed for front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive vehicles.

Buyers who don't need 400 horses will have other options to choose from. The entry-level model will receive Ford's familiar turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder, which also powers the Mustang and the Focus RS. Next up will be the 3.3-liter V6 from the F-150; it will replace the current Explorer's 3.5-liter V6. Ford will round out the line-up a little later in the production run with a hybrid model and, possibly, a diesel.

Of course, none of this is official; the company doesn't comment on speculation. Production of the sixth-generation Explorer is scheduled to start in the spring of 2019, meaning we'll likely see the model a few months earlier at next Detroit Auto Show.

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