Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Ford Strikes Back at Toyota With a Fresh Face for the 2018 Explorer

By John Rosevear - Apr 11, 2017 at 6:21PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Ford's big SUV gets a revamp for 2018.

Ford Motor Company (F -1.06%) took the wraps off its 2018 Explorer SUV at an event in New York. Ford's mainstay family hauler is receiving a series of upgrades for the 2018 model year, including some new technology -- and a brand-new face.

A white 2018 Ford Explorer.

Ford is giving the Explorer a facelift and some tweaks for 2018. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

What's new in the 2018 Explorer

Ford said the 2018 Explorer is getting new front- and rear-end styling, some new details like revamped fog lamps, and some new family-friendly technology:

  • An optional 4G modem that will enable a wifi hotspot that can support up to 10 connections at once, up to 50 feet away from the vehicle.
  • The new modem also enables Ford's SYNC Connect system, which allows owners to control a variety of features remotely via the FordPass smartphone app.

For 2018, Ford will also offer Explorer buyers a package that includes its most popular advanced driver-assist systems, including adaptive cruise control and Ford's lane-keeping system, along with automatic high-beam headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. 

Most everything else, including trim levels and engine choices, will continue unchanged. Pricing for the revamped 2018 Explorer hasn't been announced, but it should be close to the 2017 model's. Ford's Chicago assembly plant will begin shipping the 2018 Explorer to U.S. dealers this fall.

Wait. Didn't Ford just revamp the Explorer?

Yes, it did. Ford gave the big SUV a significant overhaul for 2016 that included a new top-of-the-line Platinum trim, a 2.3 liter EcoBoost engine option, an improved suspension, and a bunch of other minor tweaks.

Ford first introduced current-generation Explorer for the 2011 model year. 

So, why revamp it again just two years later?

The Explorer is an important, high-profile, high-profit model for Ford in a heavily contested market segment. It still sells well, but recent critical reviews have been just so-so when the Explorer is compared to (newer) competition. 

A rear three-quarter view of the 2018 Ford Explorer.

The 2018 Ford Explorer's rear fascia also received subtle styling tweaks. Image source: Ford Motor Company.

That competition has dented Ford's sales a bit. Ford sold 216,294 Explorers in the U.S. last year. That's a lot of Explorers, but that total was down 3.6% from 2015. Sales of the Explorer are down another 2.2% this year through March. 

Where are those sales going? Let's put it this way: Sales of Toyota's (TM -0.52%) Highlander, which was new in 2014 and revamped for 2017, are up 20% this year through March. The competition will get considerably fiercer soon: General Motors (GM 0.56%) is in the process of launching all-new and significantly improved versions of its three 7-passenger crossovers, the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Terrain, and Buick Enclave (to be revealed Tuesday evening in New York). All three will be at dealers before the end of the year. 

Ford is working on an all-new Explorer that should be much more competitive with these recent arrivals, but that's another year or two away. 

So, why did Ford go to the trouble of updating the Explorer's look and features for 2018? Given the strength of the competition, Ford probably felt some pressure to give buyers some additional reasons to consider the current model while it waits for the all-new one to arrive. 

Will it work? We'll find out this fall. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Ford Motor Company Stock Quote
Ford Motor Company
$11.20 (-1.06%) $0.12
Toyota Motor Corporation Stock Quote
Toyota Motor Corporation
$154.67 (-0.52%) $0.80
General Motors Company Stock Quote
General Motors Company
$32.37 (0.56%) $0.18

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/06/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.