The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And PersonalA funny thing happens when you ride a motorcycle around Detroit with no particular purpose: You see a lot of things people would rather you not see, like the curious-looking car-based 2011 Ford Explorer we first saw a couple days ago. Having no final destination also gives you the freedom to chase down your quarry and tail it until the driver parks it in a public parking lot to go have dinner with his buddies. So we played the stalker — oh well. It afforded us the opportunity to poke around the "Ford Freestyle with the Flex nose" and learn some interesting things about the supposed new Explorer — primarily that it's powered by a transversely mounted engine. More confounding details and a positively enormous gallery of spy shots below.

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

The Car-Based Ford Explorer Test Mule, Up Close And Personal

That's right, the engine sits crossways in the engine bay and, though this particular mule was all-wheel-drive, it opens up the opportunity for a front-drive Explorer in the future — we know, sacrilege. The mule's Frankensteined body work is sliced and stitched together all over the place too, with a slice on the fender just behind the peak of the wheel well, a line that runs all the way down the center of the roof and a newly formed rear bumper. You can also see how they've made the A-pillar extra wide with a considerable rake. Inside, the family truckster looks the part of any Ford Freestyle, but gets a Ford Mustang steering wheel for some reason. You'd never know it was wider than stock. If this does indeed turn out to be the Explorer we think it is, things will certainly be different than what we're accustomed to on the big, tough and boxy version we have today.