Ford executives gathered at the pier at Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA to unveil their latest offering in the SUV class. In a bid to “reinvent” the SUV, Ford has followed the path of crossover vehicles such as the Acura MDX, Cadillac SRX, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander and put the legendary Ford Explorer on a uni-body car chassis. While this will make the ride smoother, other innovations have moved this vehicle to the top of it's class with brand new technologies and environmentally friendly materials.
The V8 engine of the past that allowed the Explorer to tow up to 3 tons and guzzle gas like a drunken sailor, has been reduced to a 3.5L TiVCT V6 with maximum towing capacity of 5000 lbs. Will that be enough to get your boat to the lake on weekends? Ford thinks so.
For those consumers that are looking for a sporty alternative to the minivan and not a weekend warrior machine, the 2.0L Eco-Boost engine is a great alternative. This option may save you as much as 20% on your fuel costs while still giving you a vehicle with “get-up-and-go”. The engine allows for light towing, up to 2000 lbs. If you want to sample this engine, it is currently available in the Ford Flex crossover.
The eco-friendly features do not stop there. Ford also took the interior and exterior into account during its design phase. The exterior is made of a composite material that is lightweight and strong, and made largely of recycled material, and the interior “includes sustainable materials like soy foam seats, recycled plastics and advanced bio-materials”.
The Explorer remains in the SUV class, due largely to it’s ability to handle various types of terrain. Their new Terrain Management System is literally "dialed in" to the needs of the average driver. If you can dial it, you will have no handling problems when in four-wheel drive. A dial on the console allows you to choose from several pre-programmed topographical hazards such as snow, sand, mud and gravel. Each setting has a different throttle, torque and stability control settings, allowing the driver to regain control quickly and easily. While this is available on limited models, the basic Intelligent 4WD and Curve Control systems are just as effective for most types of hazards. Another feature that offers piece of mind are the Collision Warning system with brake support.
Additional innovations include such features as the MyFord Touch System. This new technology allows you to interact with your vehicle unlike ever before. Configurable instrument panels on the center stack and on your steering wheel allow you to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road when accessing the vehicles systems. Another industry-first are inflatable seat belts that will be an option for the back seat travelers. This new type of restraint/accident protection is particularly good for the smaller passengers, causing less impact and potential injury than standard airbags.
For those that love to pack up the car and head to the hills on the weekends, there is a maximum cargo space of 80.7 cubic feet. With multiple configurations for the second and third rows of seating, there is sure to be a quick and easy way to pack up the gear and go. As an added bonus there’s a Power Liftgate feature that allows for programmable height settings. Petite women everywhere rejoice!
Yet another innovation is the way that Ford is handling the reveal and advertising for the 2011 Explorer - they are marketing this vehicle through Facebook! To find out more about the reinvented Ford Explorer click here to find out more and sign up to win an Explorer of your own.