IN THE FLESH
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Mon, Jul 26, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
The press reveal for the Explorer, amid sand castles At long last, the real 2011 Ford Explorer is unveiled at Venice Beach By Harold Osmer I know what you’re thinking. What could possibly be new about a Ford Explorer? A reasonable question, to be sure, and one which hatches a host of surprises for those willing to take a look. Ford’s venerable Explorer nameplate has successfully serviced the mid-sized SUV marketplace since 1990.
For 2011, Ford has completely rebuilt the Explorer as part of their company-wide program to fully update their entire showroom. In so many words, within a couple of years Ford will have all-new platforms beneath their products. No dated technology, chassis, or electronics to be found. Anyone harboring ancient opinions about Ford should rethink their position.
Today’s grand unveiling of the new Explorer did not provide us with a driving experience so we’ll save that for a later time. But we can tell you that the new look is decidedly eye catching. The sloping windshield, integrated door sills, and smooth lines speak to a modern look that had escaped the more recent editions.
Beyond all that, we found ourselves wondering aloud why Ford is even bothering to produce an SUV in the current economic and environmental times. One answer is, quite simply, there is a need in the marketplace for a vehicle like the Explorer. Something larger and more flexible-use oriented than a sedan, while not so utilitarian as a pickup, is a plus in many households.
Lead time on new vehicle production is several years and there are untold numbers of opportunities for a given project to be abandoned. Kudos to Ford for following on through on the effort to keep this nameplate alive. A more thorough review is forthcoming when production begins later this year. Initial reports call for a standard 3.5L V6 powerplant with 2.0L I4 EcoBoost engine as an option. EcoBoost technology provides a 30% fuel economy gain over the V6 while generating similar power and torque outputs. EcoBoost vehicles we’ve tested have born this out. Engine-unique 6-speed automatic transmissions are standard. Note: EPA mileage estimates have not yet been released.
Ford’s popular SYNC internal electronics system provides hands-free connectivity and security. Safety features include tire pressure monitors, Roll Stability Control, high-strength steel enforced body structure, and an industry-exclusive inflatable rear seat belt system. With so many Ford Explorers already on the road, there is a good chance that many are nearing replacement time. While fans of the older Explorer will find little to remind them of the previous version, the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer will easily exceed all expectations. And those who refuse to look at a Ford due to outdated impressions are shortchanging themselves.
VITAL STATISTICS Name of vehicle: 2011 Ford Explorer Price: TBA Highlights: • All-new Ford Explorer SUV offers best-in-class fuel economy from high-tech powertrains • Standard 3.5-liter V6 engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) • Optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost™ I-4 engine delivering V6 power with four-cylinder fuel efficiency • A pair of six-speed transmissions--unique to each engine--for engaging driving dynamics and class-leading economy • World's first Rear Inflatable Seat Belts, making Explorer one of the safest vehicles on the road • New Terrain Management System lets drivers turn a knob and select sand, snow, mud or everyday driving For more information, see The New Explorer