Ford Introduces Ford Explorer America Concept In Advance of Detroit Auto Show
Ford has introduced its Explorer America Concept a week ahead of the NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) in Detroit.
I previewed the Explorer American Concept weeks ago at a media event at the old Ford Rouge plant in Michigan, along with the new 2009 F-150 and the new Ford Verve (let’s just call it the Fiesta from now on), which will be introduced a week from today.
My take on the Ford Explorer Concept? Nice update, nothing ground-shaking, not a home run, but a solid single. The proof will be in the pudding, and the pudding in this case is what the big Explorer is going to drive like with the 2-liter 275 hp, 280 lb.-ft four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in it. I was very surprised (and pleasantly so) at how well the four-cylinder Chevrolet Malibu drove recently at a GM two-day ride event, so I am more than open to seeing another domestic make finally get a four-cylinder engine right. Ford has very big plans for the EcoBoost lineup of engines, but the litmus test will be driving the Explorer with the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in it. That hasn’t happened yet.
But here’s what Ford has to say about the Ford Explorer Concept in their press release this morning:
FORD TO REVEAL NEW FUEL-SAVING CONCEPT IN DETROIT
The Ford Explorer America concept showcases a new kind of utility for the vehicle customers have known and loved for years: even better fuel efficiency.
“Customers are smart. They value vehicles – the more efficient, the better,” said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of Marketing and Communications. “Ford gets it.
“Innovative technologies can transform people’s favorite vehicles. Look at SYNC, the Ford system that connects people and their favorite portable devices, including media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, while in their vehicles.”
Technologies and engineering innovations help Explorer America concept deliver an approximately 20 to 30 percent fuel-economy improvement, depending on engine selection, while providing room for six and their gear as well as moderate towing and off-roading capabilities.
This smarter utility concept simplifies Ford Motor Company’s systems approach for delivering sustainable vehicles, specifically demonstrating:
– A powertrain lineup that includes a 4-cylinder 2-liter engine with EcoBoost technology delivering 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque or, as a premium engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 delivering about 340 hp. Depending on engine selection, fuel-efficiency will improve by 20 to 30 percent versus today’s V-6 Explorer
– Migration from current body-on-frame to unibody construction, reducing weight and delivering superior driving dynamics
– A fuel-efficient 6-speed transmission with auto shift control, allowing the driver to select and hold a lower gear with just the turn of a dial when conditions warrant it
– A weight reduction of 150 pounds for the V-6 version thanks to its downsized – yet superior performing – engine, as well as more lightweight materials, suspension and chassis components
– Fuel-saving electric power assisted steering (EPAS) and other engine actions that deliver a fuel savings benefit of about 5 percent. Between 80 to 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles will have EPAS by 2012
In addition to its fuel-efficient powertrain and technologies, the Explorer America concept addresses how the SUV market has changed in the past 15 years.
In the 1990s, customers were drawn by SUVs aligned with people’s adventurous, more rugged lifestyles. Today’s consumers are more discerning, demanding products that are capable and flexible – but more intelligently executed.
The Explorer America concept looks the part, too, with a modern, muscular design language that belies its ability to harness today’s active lifestyles. Its integrated three-bar grille, defined power dome hood, wrap-around rear glass panel window and sliding rear door give the appearance that this concept is ready for modern Lewis-and-Clark types to explore, from their own neighborhoods to the trail head.
Inside, intelligent features abound, including: single-touch stackable, sliding seats that allow for convenient access to the second row; a work table with seats deploy from the tailgate; and a three-dimensional compass and navigation unit with a topographical map built right into the instrument panel.
There you have it. Conceptually, I’m excited about the EcoBoost engine family, but driving will be believing, and as soon as that happens, I can give you a better opinion of what is PR blandishment and what is real.
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