No other car company has used social networking sites quite like Ford and no other vehicle has changed the American landscape like the Explorer. For better or for worse, the Explorer kicked off the SUV craze in the United States and many years later, there is a new version on our hands.
When it was first released in 1995, the Explorer sold around 412,000 units each year until 2003. In 2000, the car sold around 445,000 units, the best year for Ford. Sadly, the 2009 model year was a low point, as the car sold around 52,000 units.
The 2011 Ford Explorer has been teased over and over again on Facebook and their page has tons of fans. The page has a drop down feature that lists details about the vehicle, along with a hidden image.
Now though, it’s all over. The speculation and the endless barrage of teaser photos are at an end. Finally. Today, Ford took the wraps off of the Explorer and like McDonalds taking the wrapper off of a new burger, America watched.
Hit the jump to keep reading.
More teaser images revealed for the 2011 Explorer
This is the area of the new Explorer that will really stand out. Ford wanted to improve the vehicle’s fuel economy, and it did just that and it did it rather well. The 2011 Explorer will have two motors, a 3.5-liter V6 and a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder motor. Each of these engines should provide a 30-percent boost in mileage over the old 4.0-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8.
The EcoBoost motor has been used in other Ford cars before, including the European Mondeo and S-Max. For the Explorer, the motor will put out 237 horsepower. Amazingly, that power number is far better than what we had with the old 4.0-liter V6.
The torque numbers are just sensational. The charge cooling effect of the direct injection will allow Ford to run around 16 psi of boost, which will help the four-cylinder engine develop 250 pound-feet of torque.
The larger and more powerful V6 motor will put out 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Ford is projecting that the new V6 will get 20 percent better fuel economy than the old V6 and a massive 30 percent better than the V8. Both motors will be connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
When you’re shopping for the new Explorer, be aware that the V6 is the standard motor, while the EcoBoost four-cylinder is optional. Ford hopes that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for fuel economy, so those of us who want to save mother Earth will be charged for it.
Fuel economy and performance is one thing, but what a small minority of people will want out of this machine is towing ability. The old V8 could haul around 7,000-pounds, with the V6 hauling 5,200 pounds respectively. The new V6 Explorer will be able to haul 5,000-pounds, so right on target with the old model. Sadly, that number is 200 pounds short of the hauling ability of the Chevrolet Traverse, but luckily, that SUV isn’t that good.
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost Explorer will be able to pull 2,000 pounds. Part of the reason for that low number is due to the fact that the EcoBoost version will only be available with front-wheel drive, while the V6 model can get all-wheel drive. This means that the smaller Explorer will make its home in the sports fields and on the highways of America, where most of them are anyway.
One of the biggest gizmos in the new Explorer is called the “curve control system”. This system will be added to the car’s existing electronic stability system and will add a massive dose of computing power and safety to the car’s system. Fords have been fairly reliable as of late so all the gizmos shouldn’t break.
The system works by monitoring the same wheel angle, wheel speed, and pretty much everything in between the same way as the ESC system does with a little hidden talent. The curve control system will cut more power faster, around 10 miles per hour in a single second. It does this by determining that the driver isn’t getting the kind of response intended for the vehicle when turning.
Another new piece of tech is the use of foam. Ford’s goal was to reduce the running costs of the Explorer and to reduce the SUV’s carbon footprint. Ford will use a soybean-based foam for the seat cushions and seatbacks to lower the amount of petrol based products in the car. A bit odd indeed, but anything to help the Earth is a plus.
In addition to the fancy curve control system and the foam, the Explorer will get a revamped traction control system that will allow the SUV to adapt to the appropriate road conditions.
Ford says that the new system will be available on all 4x4 models, which they believe will make up half of all the sales. The system will be replacing the Control Trac system, which was a massive disappointment. The new system was first developed by Land Rover and will give the drivers more choices and an easier interface.
The system will work with the vehicle’s engine, transmission, brakes, wheel rotation, and much more. Ford believes that this will help the car in snow, sand, and any other condition. Not sure this car will see sand, but if you fancy a drive on the beach, the Explorer is ready.
The Ford will also get a hill descent system for people that love to go off the road, and there aren’t many. The system can be turned on with a button in the middle of the traction control dial and it will apply the brakes when going down a hill. We have tested the system in the F-150 Raptor and we can report that it works with flying colors. It’s quiet, unlike the Dodge Ram’s version that sounded like metal twisting apart, and it keeps you stable even on the steepest hills.
In the technological department, the Explorer will get something called MyFord Touch. The system will be available on the XLT and Limited Explorers. The base Explorer comes with the same system, just without the touch part. The non-touch system is a 4.3-inch LCD display alongside the speedometer and then a second 4.3-inch screen in the center stack. Buyers can then add Sync if they so choose.
Those of us with a little more money to shell out will get the touch version that debuted in the Fusion Hybrid. The center stack display becomes an eight-inch touch screen with two USB ports and an SD flash card slot. This will allow people to charge their phones and their Ipods at the same time.
Underneath, the new Explorer will get a new D4 unibody platform, which is an updated version of the D3 that is used on Ford’s cars such as the Taurus X and the Mercury Milan. This platform is currently used on the Ford Flex and the Lincoln MKT. The new underbody should reduce weight by 20-25%, which in turn will mean better gas mileage.
If you have seen the Land Rover LRX, you have seen the Explorer. No really, it is that close. The new Explorer is sleek and modern and it combines a tough look with a car like design.
At the front of the car is a three-bar grille that is an evolution of the Taurus. It will sit above a trapezoidal lower air intake that is similar to what we find in some European Fords. The larger wheel arches that bulge out of the sides of the vehicle give the Explorer a very aggressive stance.
The windshield is pushed back at a steeper angle and matching A-pillars complement the blackout-out B and D pillars. Only the C-pillar is the color of the body paint. The body panel gaps are tight, like something we would expect from an Audi or a Mercedes. This car is very well made.
Inside the 2011 Ford Explorer is an all-new design. Just like most new Ford models, the new Explorer’s interior is far better than anything the previous model could muster. The interior is covered in soft-touch materials and the layout looks to be very easy to use.
Despite the smaller exterior appearance, the front seat passengers will notice more room, about two inches in fact. Rear-seat occupants can adjust the seatback angle, but that’s about it.
Once released, the Explorer will face some serious competition. GM will fight the new SUV with the Tahoe and the Traverse, while Chrysler has the Durango, which nobody has really heard of. Actually, the Explorer should sell well if that’s all the domestic competition has to offer.
The Dodge Durango is terrible. The Tahoe is old and isn’t really a big seller like it used to be when we wanted large, inefficient vehicles and the Traverse doesn’t offer the same off-road abilities as the Explorer. With that being said, most people won’t take their car off-road anyway.
One big competitor might be the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The new Jeep is actually pretty good, unlike the old models. No matter what you are going to use the Grand Cherokee for, it will perform fairly well. Not to mention it looks good too and it can haul around 7,000 pounds. This SUV should be the only real competition for the Explorer, as GM doesn’t have much to offer at the moment. The only question mark for the Grand Cherokee is reliability. We will have to wait and see on that.
When Ford surveyed people to find out how important off-road ability was to them, 100% said yes, they wanted their SUV to be able to go off-road. In that typical fashion, 70% percent said they would never go off-road in their vehicle. The other 20% were probably lying and maybe that last 10% were serious. Nobody was ever harmed by thinking big.
Ford’s goal with this new shopping mall Explorer is to keep the SUV at the top of the sales charts. They will do this by adding three-rows of seats and a fuel economy that is at least 25 percent better than the old models.
Conclusion and Thoughts
We can be sure there will be no Mercury version of this SUV, as that car brand is dead. Surprisingly, there will also be no Lincoln version and no Sport-Trac model. Sadly, there probably won’t be a sport model either like we had hoped. Basically, there will only be different trim levels to choose from.
At this point we have no idea how this new machine will drive. We hope to get a go in one very soon and we will certainly have a full review up for you once that occurs.
Prices for the new Explorer will start at $28,190, while the top Limited 4WD model will be $39,190. If you want your Explorer fully loaded it will cost you around $48,075. At this point, we can only give you the price of the V6 model and we hope to have pricing information for the EcoBoost version very soon.