GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – The 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum starts at $53,915, making it the most expensive Explorer ever built.
But Ford dealers are sending a strong signal to the Dearborn automaker that there’s a market for a model with additional luxury features costing thousands more than the Platinum.
Ford is taking that request seriously.
“What they are telling us is to keep going, you have not hit the top yet,” Craig Patterson, marketing manager for Ford’s large SUV, told Edmunds in a recent interview.
He added: “Our dealer committees, our dealer product committees are saying don’t stop, don’t be conservative. Explorer brings a different customer into our dealership. They don’t ask what it costs. They just say ‘that is what I want.'”
The high-end Platinum model is a response to the GMC Acadia Denali and Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Both have been success stories for the respective brands and, at times, GMC and Jeep have had trouble keeping up with demand.
When the Platinum model debuted earlier this year, Ford said “there’s a market for more upscale SUVs, as 90 percent of Explorer Sport buyers purchase the most expensive package available.”
Patterson said upgrading the Explorer even further could include powertrain enhancements and new technology.
No timetable was given for when a model beyond the Explorer Platinum would debut or what it would cost.
The Platinum model has the most upscale interior ever offered in a North American Ford vehicle, with details including Nirvana leather, quilted door bolsters and real ash wood trim in the cabin.
So far, about 20 percent of the 2016 Explorers ordered are Platinum models, far exceeding expectations.
Co-branding initiatives for the Explorer are another possibility, he said.
In past years, Ford had co-branding deals with retailer Eddie Bauer for the Explorer and Harley-Davidson for the Ford F-150 and Super Duty pickup trucks. An F-150 King Ranch pickup currently is offered.
However, Patterson said none of those brands would be considered for a more luxurious Explorer.
Edmunds says: Ford dealers want an even ritzier version of the Explorer in their showrooms. Buyers should expect something beyond Explorer Platinum in the not-too-distant future.