Ford adds sport package, wheelchair-accessible Explorer

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday unveiled a new sport appearance package and wheelchair-accessible version of its 2017 model-year Explorer SUV ahead of this week’s Chicago Auto Show.

The Dearborn automaker added the sport appearance package to the SUV’s XLT trimline as a way for customers to get the styling of the more expensive Sport trim without spending the extra money. Pricing has not been announced on the new Explorer, which goes on sale later this year, but the current model’s XLT trim costs about $10,000 less than the Sport trim.

The new package comes with exterior cosmetic upgrades like 20-inch magnetic-gray wheels, a magnetic-gray grille, ebony body side-cladding and a black roof rack. The interior features “Dark Earth Gray” leather, gray upper seat backs, Umber stitching and Explorer logo floor mats.

The 2017 Ford Escape will also feature a Sport Appearance package on its SE and Titanium models when it launches in the coming months.

“Our Sport Appearance philosophy is rooted in the fact that we know exterior appearance is the No. 1 consideration in SUV purchase decisions,” Omar Odeh, Explorer brand marketing manager, said in a statement. “The XLT Sport Appearance Package is a dramatic offering that gives customers another attractive option.”

The new package comes equipped with standard XLT features including a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, push-button start, 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, Sync 3 infotainment system and LED fog lamps.

The Explorer comes in a base, XLT, Limited, Sport and the Platinum trim. Ford said the Sport and Platinum versions account for roughly 30 percent of U.S. sales. Ford sold 249,251 Explorers last year, an increase of 18.7 percent from a year ago, according to Autodata.

Ford refreshed the Explorer for the 2016 model year, celebrating the SUV’s 25th anniversary with a new engine and new Platinum trim.

Ford on Tuesday also announced production has started on the BraunAbility MXV, a wheelchair-accessible Explorer made by partner BraunAbility at a 170,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Winamac, Indiana. The company announced the product last year, but it’s now being built, Ford said.

It’s available with Explorer’s base, XLT and Limited models and features patented sliding-door technology, removable driver and passenger seats, and a powered, lighted in-floor ramp.

(313) 222-2401