The Chinese market is arguably the most important one in the auto industry today—so much so that manufacturers the world over are bending over backward to cater to the country’s tastes. Even Ford, the most American of American car brands, knows this.
It should come as no surprise then that Ford goes the extra mile when it comes to its lineup in the People’s Republic, going as far as to alter long-running nameplates to suit the market. The latest example of this is the market’s 2023 Explorer.
If you’ve noticed that the SUV features a relatively more upscale design here, it’s because it’s been built particularly with local buyers in mind. Ford’s China Design Center is responsible for the appearance—the first time an Explorer has been designed outside the US.
While some parts of the aesthetic—such as the headlights being integrated into the grille, overall silhouette, and taillights—all echo what you’d find in other markets, plenty of China’s units get their own distinct design cues.
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There are the new 21-inch wheels with a turbine design that mimic the look of a ship’s propeller when they spin. The C-pillar, supposedly, is inspired by the mast of a sailboat, too. Meanwhile, the front end’s lines “capture the momentum of bow-breaking waves.”
Huh. So the market’s really into boats, we guess.
Inside, the cabin of the China-spec 2023 Ford Explorer flaunts a luxurious vibe featuring upscale plastic and faux metal trim. It’s available in red, black, or brown upholstery, too. The most standout addition here, however, is a gargantuan 27-inch touchscreen that takes up most of the dashboard’s real estate.
Powering China’s 2023 Explorer is a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine with 272hp and up to 425Nm of torque—good enough for a top speed of 200kph and a 0-100kph sprint as fast as 7.6sec. Shifting is handled by a 10-speed automatic transmission.
So, are you liking how China has treated the Ford Explorer? Chime in.
More photos of the Ford Explorer 2023: