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Spy Shots: Next-Gen Ford Explorer Shifts to Unibody Chassis

These are the latest photos that Brenda Priddy's spy shooter network has turned up on the next Ford Explorer. Priddy says that previous test mules were wearing Taurus X and Flex body panels, but this one appears to have a 2011 Explorer production front end grafted on to a Taurus X body.

"Under the camouflage, we can see three large bars running across the grille that are very reminiscent of the Explorer America Concept," Priddy says.

Priddy also notes that the dual exhaust shown here is similar to many Ecoboost mules they've spotted, and she ventures that this particular tester has Ford's 3.5L, twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 underhood. The Explorer should also be available with a turbocharged, 2.0L four-cylinder motor when it hits dealer lots.

But the big news with the 2011 Explorer is that it will shift to a unibody, car-based setup, riding on Ford's D3 chassis. Production will start next summer at Chicago's Torrence Avenue assembly plant.

Photos copyright Brenda Priddy & Company. Reuse or reproduction without copyright holder's consent is prohibited.