- the 2020 ford explorer st's 400-hp v-6 has four real exhaust outlets, but they're not the four chromed tips you can see behind the vehicle. (the same setup is also found on the v-6–equipped explorer platinum model.)
- ford actually routes the exhaust to a set of downward-facing exits that are hidden a few inches upstream of the visible exhaust tips.
- the explorer st gets the best of both worlds: it has a set of convincing-looking pipes, but they won't accumulate soot.
plenty of new cars and trucks have fake exhaust outlets—little chrome bits molded into their rear bumper covers to give the effect of an exhaust tip, when spent gases from the engine are actually piped out someplace else under the vehicle, out of sight. the 2020 ford explorer st, the high-performance version of the all-new explorer, somehow pulls off having very four very real-looking exhaust tips that also have some neat fakery at work. here's how:
stand next to the new explorer st, and, provided you're not lilliputian, the four exhaust outlets jutting from the suv's rear bumper look convincing. they're full pipes unlike most manufacturers' fake outlets, which are often little more than oval or round echoes of a pipe's opening that are pasted onto the lower body trim.
we noticed this set of pipes while moving scales underneath the explorer st to weigh it as part of c/d testing procedures. draw closer to the pipes and peer inside, and there are what appear to be delete plates in each of the four exhaust tips. they're black-painted covers set about two inches in from the end of the chrome exhaust opening.
so, where does the exhaust go?
now that you're face to rear bumper with the explorer st (we don't suggest checking this out on a car that isn't yours—you will look strange), crawl under the vehicle, and look up. ta-da! there are the real exhaust outlets! ford pipes the exhaust to four outlets—but turns the gases 90 degrees to flow downward and exit from the underside of each chrome tip.
see? they're both real exhausts—four real exhaust pipes, not four fake tips and a single or double real outlet elsewhere; they simply fake their true routing. so the question surely exploding from your lips this instant: "why would ford, having already routed four real exhaust pipes to the explorer st's rear bumper, then turn those pipes downward at the last second through little trap doors underneath each chrome exhaust tip?"
ford confirmed what we suspected all along: that it's a move to prevent soot buildup on the exhaust outlets. modern direct-injection gasoline engines tend to gunk up their exhaust outlets with black soot, like a thick layer of brake dust. this is why many modern vehicles wear fake exhausts. the volkswagen group and general motors are particularly egregious offenders—just look at the latest vw golf hatchback and nearly any buick model.
some german cars have real pipes that exit through separate tips—i.e., the piping doesn't flow into the visible tip but stops short just behind—but this is for a separate reason: it is a play to reduce insurance cost because it helps prevent damage to the actual exhaust in the event of a mild rear-end impact. it also meets overseas regulations surrounding how far the exhaust can extend beyond a car's bumper.
anyway, ford has a clever solution on its hands here for the soot thing. by spitting the exhaust out of the bottom of the tips, ford is getting its real exhausts and its cake (in this case, forever-clean-appearing chrome outlets), too, without resorting to true fakery.