Earlier this week, online stories started popping up declaring that Ford was dropping its Explorer Sport Trac pickup and Mercury Mountaineer SUV. Theoretically, when the next-generation Explorer moves to a crossover platform instead of an SUV platform, these two spinoffs won’t be making the transition. Or so the stories said.
We contacted Ford, and it stuck by the industry standby: “We don’t comment on future product.” Jay Ward, Ford’s communications manager for crossovers and SUVs, said the other stories were purely speculation. Ward wouldn’t even let me speculate that both vehicles could continue on as-is after the Explorer unibody launches.
The only time frame for the Explorer that Ward would divulge was that the world would “see” it in 2010. Whether that means we won’t see it until a 2010 auto show — like the Detroit auto show in January — or that it will go on sale in 2010, he wouldn’t clarify.
It’s likely both would be the case, though, with an auto show debut in early 2010 and production starting late in the year.