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Ford @ NAIAS: Ford Explorer America Concept

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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.

MORE PHOTOS HERE

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heres the car based explorer they were talking about...

so they are just giving up the market who needs the v8 explorer?

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Oh, look. It's the Ford Lambda. This is what the Traverse should be in spirit (with the sliding rears..)

I don't think the V8 Explorer crowd will be too disappointed, that is more than enough power.

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A powertrain lineup that includes a 4-cylinder 2-liter engine with EcoBoost technology delivering 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque

that's like.... the original Atlas I-6 specs!

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This is what's needed to save the Explorer. If you need a V8, get an Expedition; but for most, this should do. We have an '04 Explorer and while the 2002+ are much larger than the old Explorers, they are cramped inside, especially the rear seats. It looks like Ford has made this much more space efficient. We have a V6 in our Explorer and it performs fine for modest towing needs. If you're going to be towing a boat or something larger, then you get the Expedition.

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Who knows, maybe the NG Explorer will be unibody w/ a V8 option...there are SUVs that have V8 options that aren't BOF..

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i kinda dislike ruining what the explorer (and trailblazer) is now. A solid, trucklike, off roadable, SUV.

If Ford wanted an Explorer crossover, they should get a new name. Oh wait, they basically want to sell off the name.

Maybe this means we'll revert back to 'Bronco' for the real SUV's.

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 .

Can't the dumbasses at Ford put simple paddle shifters on the steering wheel? Jeez........

Forgive me if I'm not all wet over the BORING AS HECK design.

I was at the Nissan dealer admiring a nice XTerra yesterday. Methinks I would really enjoy one of those. Too bad these real trucks get crappy mpg. I was really digging an Expedition I was looking at today too.

Maybe GM wants Hummer to be the source of the only real GM trucks now. Maybe Ford only wants Expeditions and F150's to be their only real trucks.

Edited by regfootball
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Interesting video on Ford's new engine technology - Ecoboost - that will be used in the Explorer.

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Death of BOF on the cards. Long live shortsightedness, and inablity to innovate and ability to give up.

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This is very interesting engine technology, similar to VW's Twincharger setup, except I think VW uses a supercharger/turbocharger combo. Is the only real fuel economy benefit the smaller displacement, or is there something else?
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Me: I'd like Oversaturatiing the Crossover Market for $2000 Alex.

Alex: "This automaker is quickly losing market share due to their dependence on one type of vehicle, the crossover SUV."

Alex: "K.C."

Me: "What is Ford."

Alex: "That is correct."

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Ehhh, this is more a Grand Cherokee-style SUV than a Ford Traverse. Actually, if it is a rwd/awd setup it is probably the same platform as the Land Rover LR3 and Range Rover Sport (Ford's T5 platform). After all it was developed under an Explorer bodyshell. Other "traditional" unibody SUVs—Mitsubishi Montero/Shogun/Pajero, GC, Commander, Liberty and Nitro, previous-gen Pathfinder/QX4, Suzuki Grand Vitara. Note that most of these are more off-road capable than almost any BOF truck. BOF has no advantages except it's flexibility (short bed, long bed, crew cab, regular cab, cab chassis, wagon etc.). For an SUV, a unibody is a more capable option—stronger, quieter, stiffer, lighter. Midsize SUVs from now on will split into two camps—dedicated rwd/awd unibody trucks like the GC, Pajero, Explorer and LR3, and pickup-based models such as the Blazer, H3, Pathfinder and Fortuner (the real Hilux Surf successor). Distinct BOF SUVs like the 4Runner, GMT360s and the current Explorer are an endangered species.

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This is very interesting engine technology, similar to VW's Twincharger setup, except I think VW uses a supercharger/turbocharger combo. Is the only real fuel economy benefit the smaller displacement, or is there something else?

Errr, it's a just a Ford-engine version of the 2.0 L DI turbo Ecotec (which gets good fuel economy as well—similar to the naturally aspirated 2.4 L). BMW's 3.0 biturbo, new 4.4 biturbo V8 (which add the refinement of sequential turbos), and the turbo engine in the mini, 207 and 308 (an updated aluminum version of the Tritec block) are the same as well. This is not a new idea.

Its efficiency comes from the combination of turbocharger (recovering waste energy from the exhaust) and direct injection (which allows leaner combustion). The increased power only serves to highlight the engine's efficiency. VW's Twincharger attempts to replicate the effect of the sequential turbo setup of the BMW biturbos (also used by Fiat-GM and BMW in diesel engines), with the supercharger taking over the low-load duties of the smaller turbo in the sequential system. I would expect a similar biturbo DI version of the 2.8 V6 to follow from GM soon after (after all a 400 hp version has already been shown in the Aero-X).

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I think it's great that Ford has decided to use a little innovation to evolve the Explorer into a product that's relevant to quickly changing market conditions. Their usual practice is to give up on a well established nameplate and start all over again in the market with a new model name. The current Explorer is no longer competitive or relevant in today's auto market. This concept and its specifications/technology serve as a great strategy to keep the Explorer name alive in the auto market. I'm not quite sure how Ford will fit yet another crossover into its lineup, but I am glad that they are not giving up on the Explorer nameplate.

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I think it's great that Ford has decided to use a little innovation to evolve the Explorer into a product that's relevant to quickly changing market conditions. Their usual practice is to give up on a well established nameplate and start all over again in the market with a new model name. The current Explorer is no longer competitive or relevant in today's auto market. This concept and its specifications/technology serve as a great strategy to keep the Explorer name alive in the auto market. I'm not quite sure how Ford will fit yet another crossover into its lineup, but I am glad that they are not giving up on the Explorer nameplate.

I'm pretty sure the Taurus X will be dead soon, especially when the 2010 Taurus arrives on the scene. That leaves us with:

Urban: Edge, Flex

Off-road: Escape, Explorer

That's really not too bad of a lineup, considering how fast the crossover market is growing.

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One can only hope for a rear-drive-biased unibody, which would be a long-overdue rebirth of the economical (original) Jeep Cherokee XJ concept.

With a powerful base four-cylinder and a storming V6, I'd be interested. However, I suspect it's going to be a front-driver on the usual Volvo architecture - just like every other Ford vehicle these days.

Biggest thing I notice about this concept is what appears to be a successful toning-down of the rather hideous Airstream van-thing from last year. Good work there; this looks much better.

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