Ford Explorer ST Confirmed, Will Be Released by 2020

For better or worse, the future of Ford Performance is in SUVs.

Shortly before the Detroit Auto Show in January, Ford unveiled the Edge ST, an all-new go-fast SUV joining the growing Ford Performance division. It’s the first SUV to wear an ST badge which stands for “sport technologies.” Previously, the only cars to get ST variants in the U.S. have been the Focus and Fiesta hatchbacks.

Since the Edge ST was announced, there’s been speculation about more performance SUVs from Ford. The Edge ST is replacing the Edge Sport with better performance and a more distinct look. Since there’s also an Explorer Sport, it made sense to think that it would be replaced with an Explorer ST the next time the model gets a facelift like the Edge just did.

Well, Ford confirmed today that is exactly what’s happening. We don’t have a lot of details yet, but we know a Ford Explorer ST “will soon follow” the Edge ST with the Detroit automaker confirming it will be available by 2020.

These sporty new SUVs have got us wondering about other specialty versions of Ford SUVs like an Explorer or Edge with more of an off-road focus, kind of like the F-150 Raptor. “We will introduce both on-road and off-road performance variants of SUV models, today confirming an all-new Explorer ST,” said a Ford representative in an email to The Drive. Ford Explorer Raptor, anyone?

The Ford Performance division has grown 81 percent in the last four years thanks to models like the aforementioned ST compacts, the Focus RS, the F-150 Raptor, and various high-performance versions of the Mustang like the Shelby GT350. The brand says that “Ford Performance sales are on track to grow another 71 percent by 2020, driven by SUVs,” in a press release.

Whether we like it or not, it’s looking more and more like performance SUVs and crossovers are the future of practical performance cars and Ford is leading the charge.