Ford Family Fun – 2020+ Ford Explorer ST 3.0L Performance Intercooler R&D, Part 2 – Production Sample

Any road trip requires at least a small amount of planning. Sure, you could just jump into the car and drive, but it helps to know at least the direction you’re headed in most cases. The planning requirements only increase as more passengers climb into your Explorer. 

If the intercooler is the road map to the Explorer ST’s expedition to more power, we here at Mishimoto prefer our trip to have a complete and detailed itinerary. Really, after a closer inspection of our production sample, our road trip looks more like the course details of a road rally. 

When we last left off, our intercooler was just the framework of our design. This physical manifestation of the digital design was fabricated here at our R&D facility to triple-check our fitment before the real thing arrived. Well, the real thing is here, and we’re eager to show it off. 

The first thing you’ll notice is that our steel and plastic silhouette is now entirely filled with aluminum. This new core design substitutes the lightweight tube-and-fin construction with robust bars and plates. This core construction is ideal for durability and lends itself to improved flow and heat dissipation characteristics. 

The next thing you notice is that this cooler is, well, huge. As discussed in our last post, bigger is better for intercoolers, but finding the perfect core size is vital to optimizing performance. While our new core grew drastically over the OEM intercooler, the larger core is better suited for the powerhouse 3.0L twin-turbo, especially those demanding more boost. 

To best show the size difference between the OEM and our intercooler designs, we needed to head back to the modeling software. Highlighted in green is Ford’s intercooler.

Since we had the room to expand, we did just that. Given this core’s new stature, we calculated a 130% growth in core volume, in addition to a 168% bump in the external fin surface area. Increasing both of these specs, especially in tandem with each other, is ideal for improving both the flow and heat dissipation characteristics of the intercooler, making it ideal for your hot-headed SUV. 

 While the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks in this style of core construction, the main anchor dragging down bar-and-plate intercoolers is the added weight. Specifically, for the Explorer, our design nearly triples the weight of the stock intercooler, so supporting this hefty hunk is vital. Our engineer, Mitch, utilized the mounting points from the OEM intercooler, but this intercooler needs a little more. Starting with the supports shown above, these posts help distribute the weight across all mounting points for a more secure installation. Mitch also made sure to add two more mounting points for added stability. 

No new intercooler core would be complete without a pair of fresh end tanks. We wanted to ditch any and all plastic from the original design for our final design, so we did just that. Our new end tanks are clad in cast aluminum and TIG-welded to the core. This new construction mitigates any chances of degradation or leaks in the future. We also made sure to update the construction of all of our mounting points from plastic to metal to ensure a solid connection to the vehicle. 

Toughness isn’t the only objective with our new intercooler, with our main focus being improved performance. While the core does most of the work in the intercooling process, these end tanks still make quite the contribution. For starters, we adjusted the inlet and outlets to reduce the sharp angles found in the stock unit. Also, since our core is much taller than Ford’s design, we needed to make sure that the charged air used every air passage through the core. To achieve this, we incorporated an air diverter on the hot side of the intercooler to direct a portion of the charged air to the bottom of the core. 

With our course and itinerary set, we’re more than ready to set off on our journey seeking more power for the Explorer ST. Make sure that you stay tuned for the first look at our final testing results. 

Thanks for Reading!

-Nick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.