In an effort to bring the SUV back toward center stage, Ford pulled the wraps off its fifth generation Explorer on Monday highlighting the reinvention of the product category. First introduced as a 1991 model, Explorer was a top-selling industry nameplate in the early years of the new millennium, before fuel economy dropped the bottom out of the SUV market.
?It had to look modern and contemporary ? inside and out ? yet be instantly recognizable as an Explorer,? said Chief Nameplate Engineer Jim Holland. ?Next, the new Explorer needed to deliver the fuel economy today?s customers want, combined with the performance, capability and empowerment they expect from an SUV.?
Using a heavy Internet campaign with media like Facebook for the introduction, Ford?s new Explorer placed a strong emphasis on fuel economy with a standard V-6 engine expected to deliver more than 20 percent better fuel economy than the 2010 model, shattering conventional expectations for SUV fuel efficiency. When equipped with the available 2.0-liter EcoBoost? I-4 engine, Explorer fuel economy is expected to improve by more than 30 percent.? Interestingly, the smaller engine will be and extra cost option.
Explorer?s available advanced 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 delivers the power of a normally aspirated V6 without compromising four-cylinder fuel economy. Aimed at the SUV buyer whose top priority is fuel economy, this turbocharged and intercooled I-4 engine delivers a projected 237 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,700 through 4,000 rpm. The EcoBoost employs direct injection of gasoline, Ti-VCT, direct-acting mechanical bucket (DAMB) valve lifters and four valves per cylinder.
Explorer?s standard powertrain combines front-wheel drive, for the first time, with a 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine, delivering an estimated 290 horsepower and 255 lb.-ft. of torque. Ti-VCT allows individually optimized camshaft timing of valve opening and closing events to improve mechanical efficiency while delivering increased power and reducing part-throttle emissions. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, this powerful, flexible and efficient V6 is projected to deliver more than 20 percent better fuel economy versus the previous Explorer V6 model.
Weight reduction is a key element in improving Explorer fuel efficiency. While adding significant content to the vehicle, engineers were able to reduce total vehicle weight by almost 100 pounds using lighter materials such as an aluminum hood.
In addition to its clean, modern design inside and out, Explorer aims to please SUV shoppers with a thoughtful, flexible interior package with clever storage applications. ?The new SUV features more head and shoulder room, three rows of flexible seating, and room for everything families want to take along on their adventures.
Standard Explorer safety features include features like AdvanceTrac with RSC features Curve Control functionality to provide braking, SOS Post-Crash Alert System? and BLIS? (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert.
The shift to a unibody construction platform enabled a reduction in road noise and significantly decreased Explorer body roll in dynamic cornering situations. Independent front suspension is of the short- and long-arm configuration with a 32-millimeter front stabilizer bar. Independent rear suspension is the SR1 configuration, so-named for its one-to-one shock absorber ratio, which enables precise ride control.
The key to Explorer 4WD capability is Ford?s new terrain management system.
Replacing the traditional SUV transfer case configuration, the new system takes the guesswork out of maximizing 4WD and the capabilities it enables. Rather than employment of four-high, four-low and auto settings, Explorer terrain management is selectable by situation. The four settings ? available by shift-on-the-fly ? include normal, mud, sand and snow.
The new Explorer goes on sale this winter in three trim levels: Explorer, XLT and Limited.? Base prices for the three are $28,190, $31,190 and $37,190 respectively plus shipping charges.