The 2006 Ford Explorer’s new optional three-valve 4.6-liter SOHC V-8 that shares the same variable cam timing and three-valve cylinder heads used on the highly lauded Mustang GT and the 5.4-liter Ford F-150 engine. In the Explorer, the new 4.6-liter delivers 292 horsepower (53 more horsepower than the two-valve 4.6-liter previously used) and 300 foot-pounds of torque.
The V-8 is fitted to the first six-speed automatic in the segment, with a wide 6.04:1 gear ratio, enabling the engine to spend more time in its optimum powerband — either at peak power for acceleration, or at peak efficiency for more fuel economy.
As a result, V-8 4x4 models are expected to deliver up to 10 percent improvement in fuel economy, in addition to an increase of 53 more horsepower. And the new V-8 delivers low emissions, as well. It is expected to qualify for the stringent Tier II, Bin 5 federal standards, which is compliant with California’s Low Emissions Vehicle II (LEV II) standards
V-6 certified to same level of ultra-low emissions as the Ford Escape Hybrid. Explorer’s standard 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine received significant improvements for the 2006 model year as well. Idle quality was improved by 50 percent, thanks to a new camshaft and spark plugs. New engine calibrations and improved emission controls cut smog-forming emissions by 74 percent compared to the previous model.
These improvements are expected to allow the 2006 Explorer V-6 to meet federal Tier II Bin 4 emissions requirements to achieve ULEV II status — the same federal tailpipe emissions standards as the Ford Escape Hybrid, the world’s cleanest SUV
The 2006 Ford Explorer leads its class with 10 standard advanced safety technologies. Seven of these 10 standard features are new to the mid-size SUV class, including four new adaptive technologies specifically designed for Ford’s stringent internal safety targets. The new Explorer provides the most active and passive safety features in its class.
In fact, the new Explorer meets all known federal frontal- and side-impact crash requirements through 2010.
Explorer already achieves one of the best impact-protection ratings among mid-sized SUVs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2005 model year New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) data. The new 2006 model is expected to improve on that rating.
As with the previous model, the 2006 Explorer offers available Safety Canopy TM side air curtains that deploy in certain side-impact collisions or if an impending rollover is detected to help protect front- and second-row outboard occupants. The air curtains feature "roll-fold" technology. If an occupant is improperly seated and resting his head against a window, the Safety CanopyTM is designed to slide between the glass and occupant as it inflates. A new front "sail panel" of fabric attached to the A-pillar also helps position the Safety CanopyTM.
Also new for 2006 are standard side-impact air bags for the driver and front passenger. Mounted in the outboard side of each front seat, these air bags further enhance protection for the an occupant’s chest in the event of a side collision.
Explorer’s armrests and door trim also have been designed to help cushion the abdomen and lower torso during a side impact. And a four-inch-thick foam block installed between the exterior and interior front-door panels further helps manage side impact forces on the occupant’s hips
Thanks to increases in section height and width, it is 63 percent more resistant to bending and 55 percent more resistant to twisting. The Explorer adopts the F-150’s tube-through-tube frame design, where the cross members pass through the section of the frame-rails, creating an inherently stronger joint. These joints are then completely welded around the perimeter for a fully boxed seam. The stiffer frame provides a smoother ride with better road feel, crisper handling and improved steering response because it allowed Ford engineers to improve the vehicle systems the stronger frame supports - including the front and rear suspensions, and the braking and steering systems. Paired with new manufacturing techniques that decrease manufacturing tolerances, the Explorer’s solid foundation also helps significantly reduce long-term squeaks and rattles.
The stiffer frame provides a smoother ride with better road feel, crisper handling and improved steering response because it allowed Ford engineers to improve the vehicle systems the stronger frame supports — including the front and rear suspensions, and the braking and steering systems. Paired with new manufacturing techniques that decrease manufacturing tolerances, the Explorer’s solid foundation also helps significantly reduce long-term squeaks and rattles.
Explorer’s improved independent rear suspension now features trailing arms and is more robust to accommodate the vehicle’s increased towing and payload capability, yet is slightly lighter than the previous short- and long-arm assembly. As before, the rear half shafts pass through frame portholes, lowering the independent rear suspension subframe for better third-row packaging and a lower center of gravity.
The front suspension also is new, retaining basic geometry with upper and lower control arms and a sway bar. It too features stronger components, yet is slightly lighter weight overall. Both front and rear suspensions now feature monotube shocks — replacing twin-tube shocks. The monotube shocks are tuned to take advantage of the stiffer frame, delivering even less impact harshness for improved ride comfort while still delivering excellent primary ride control.
As before, the four-wheel disc brake system features standard anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution and electronic brake assist. For 2006, Explorer’s brake system has been redesigned for improved heat dissipation and durability. These changes helped increase the vehicle’s maximum capacities. With a 1,520-pound payload and 7,300-pound tow rating, the 2006 model is the most capable Explorer ever
The 2006 Explorer has an all-new interior with improved accommodations for all occupants. New front seats with available 10-way power on the driver’s seat provide more comfort and ride on extended tracks that allow a full inch more travel. The second row is available in three configurations; a 60-40 (no reclining) split, a reclining 60-40 split that allows access to the third row, and bucket seats separated by a center console. New, larger head restraints provide enhanced safety and articulate for improved rear visibility when the seat is unoccupied.
The available third-row seats’ bench height was raised 1.75 inches, providing better visibility for children while still affording comfortable headroom for taller occupants.
Another change is a 50/50 seatback split to allow greater versatility for varying loads of people and cargo. The third-row seat also offers a power-fold option. Ford Motor Company was first in the industry with this feature, introduced on the Lincoln Navigator, and Explorer will be the first in the mid-size SUV segment to offer this convenience
Fitting the Explorer’s increased capability, the new model features a new, bolder exterior design. Though the 2006 Explorer features the same footprint, solid proportions and planted stance as the outgoing model, the new Explorer has a much larger presence, most noticeably in the all-new front end. Everything is new from the base of the windshield forward. The new grilles, with three distinct styles wrapping the larger seven-inch Ford blue oval, make the strongest statement.
Like the front of the 2006 Explorer, the rear infuses Explorer’s classic look with a bold new attitude. The 2006 model also offers available 18-inch chrome wheels wrapped in P235/65R-18 all-season tires for a more rugged appearance. These changes visually communicate power, capability, and durability, reinforcing Explorer’s traditional, authentic SUV roots.
The 2006 Explorer will be available in four trim levels: XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited.
The XLT is the core offering, totaling 50 percent of Explorer models. These customers tend to be older than XLS buyers and need to carry a family. But, the "sensation seeker" in them also wants a traditional SUV for the occasional weekend adventure.
The Eddie Bauer model has become the quintessential Explorer model, offering the best of both worlds: It offers capability and a bold style, paired with luxury amenities. It is anticipated that Eddie Bauer sales will double, as it is now offered in a broader range: The standard Eddie Bauer model will offer 17-inch wheels, leather-trimmed seats, wood trim and unique chromed grille. The available luxury package adds the choice of two-tone seats with Preferred SuedeTM inserts, heated front seats and a 290-watt, six-disc audiophile stereo. For the first time, 18-inch chrome wheels are also available on both Eddie Bauer offerings.
The Limited represents the top of the line for those who need the capability of a traditional SUV, but want something that represents success. The Limited offers monochromatic exterior, more interior amenities and standard chrome finish on the grille and 17-inch wheels. Like the Eddie Bauer, 18-inch chrome wheels are also available.
The 2006 Ford Explorer will go on sale this fall in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It will be produced at Ford’s St. Louis and Louisville assembly plants.
Pricing will be announced closer to launch.