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By Drew Johnson

Flipping the proverbial bird to Ford’s Facebook efforts, our spy photographers have just sent us images of the all-new 2011 Explorer virtually camo free. Ford has been slowing revealing the new Explorer on its Facebook page, with a fully reveal scheduled for the virtual world next month.

Although still covered in vinyl, the camouflage does little to break up the lines of the new Explorer. This is our first real-world look at the Explorer, running on the streets largely unclad, giving us our best feel yet for the feel and presence of Ford’s new unibody crossover. We also have our first-ever look at the Explorer’s tail-light design, which takes after the lamps found on the 2012 Ford Focus.

Following its July debut, the 2011 Explorer should go on sale by the end of 2010.

2011 Explorer gains traction

Ford says the new traction control system for the 2011 Explorer will make it easy for drivers to select the appropriate road conditions, which will allow the system to adjust traction control engagement.

Ford says that the new traction control system will come standard on all 4×4 models, which the automaker says make up roughly half of its model sales. The system replaces the Control Trac system which reportedly confused some drivers, having the choice between: automatic, high, or low traction. The new system, originally developed by former Ford subsidiary Land Rover, is intended to give drivers more intuitive choices, in additional to a wider array of choices.

The system will make changes to the vehicle’s behavior for the engine, transmission, brakes, wheel rotation speed and more. Ford says this will help drivers in unfamiliar driving conditions, such as snow or sand. When in snow, for example, the system will use more braking to slow the wheels down, where as in sand the system would aim to keep constant wheel movement to avoid becoming stuck.

“People…want an SUV to have the capability to go off road, but because they don’t do it a lot, they don’t know how,” Holland told the AP in a recent interview. “We just want them to feel capable.”

In addition to gaining Land Rover-sourced traction control, the new Explorer will also borrow hill descent assist system, found on the F-150 and F-150 Raptor. This system, engaged by a button found in the middle of the traction control dial, will automatically apply brakes and adjust engine output to slowly descend hills.

(More after video)

2011 Explorer: What we know so far

We can see the rear doors on the new Explorer are not nearly as squared-off as the current model. The cutline of the rear door also seems to reinforce the rumors we’ve heard of the new Explorer having a C-pillar very similar to the recently discontinued Taurus X.

Code-named “U502,” this all-new Ford Explorer is in for a big change. While Ford’s SUV has always ridden on a body-on-frame chassis, the next model will switch to the D4 unibody platform. Ford’s D4 platform, a moderately updated version of the D3, currently underpins the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT. Ford is hoping for a significant weight drop, and in turn, 20-25% better fuel mileage, by switching the Explorer to a unibody setup.

The two powertrains we have confirmed for the Explorer are the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Ecoboost and the regular, non-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. While the twin-turbo, direct-injected Ecoboost V6 could still find its way into the Explorer sometime after launch, it may only be part of police of package or future performance model, should Ford decide to produce such a model.

The 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder offering will offer around 230 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, while maintaining excellent fuel economy compared to the outgoing model’s slightly less powerful 4.0-liter V6. The premium engine, the 3.5-liter V6, will share new Ti-VCT technology for increased output and efficiency, with horsepower rated at 285.

With the camouflage completely removed, we can see the next Explorer will take on a much more aggressive look. A modern version of Ford’s three-bar grille is front and center, flanked by Edge-like headlights. Overall, the Explorer doesn’t look that much dissimilar from Land Rover’s LRX concept.

On the inside, expect three rows of seats, with the third row being jump seats.

With the recent death of Mercury announced it is safe to say there will be no Mercury Mountainer based on the new Explorer, nor is a Lincoln variant expected. We’ve also learned there will be no Sport-Trac model. Watch for production to start late this year at Chicago’s Torrence Avenue assembly plant.



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that does look very nice.

it should return to being a big seller.

Edited by regfootball

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Spy Photos: 2011 Ford Explorer Nearly Uncovered

By Ed Hellwig | June 10, 2010

You remember all that nonsense about a "140-character society?" Well, here's the new 2011 Ford Explorer in a whole bunch of megapixels. Caught in Dearborn recently, the new Explorer looks like a pretty sharp interpretation the Explorer America Concept shown years ago. You can also see a bit of the Taurus influence in this design. So what do you think, step forward or backward for the Explorer? More pics after the jump.



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