Ford said Wednesday it has added a premium edition to its Explorer SUVs built on Chicago’s South Side. The company said the Explorer King Ranch model is meant to evoke the spirit of a south Texas ranch with which it has had a marketing partnership for years.
The model is expected in dealerships this spring. It will have a premium interior with leather and wood accents, a 14-speaker sound system and its own grille and badging.
It will be produced exclusively at Ford’s plant at 12600 S. Torrence Ave. A company spokeswoman said the new model entails no hiring or shift changes. The plant has 5,300 hourly workers and has been humming at three daily shifts, although a shortage of semiconductor chips forced a recent one-week slowdown.
The Explorer King Ranch edition will start at $52,350 for rear-wheel drive and $54,350 for four-wheel drive, the company said.
The King Ranch dates from 1853 and, according to its website, covers 825,000 acres, an area larger than Rhode Island. Ford has applied the King Ranch name to western-themed models of its F-150 pickup for about 20 years.