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Dealers Laud All-new ’11 Ford Explorer

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Dealers Laud All-new ’11 Ford Explorer

By Byron Pope

WardsAuto.com, Jul 27, 2010 11:15 AM

DEARBORN, MI – A downsized engine that delivers improved fuel economy is just what midsize utility-vehicle shoppers are looking for, Ford dealers say.

Ford Motor Co.’s redesigned-for-’11 Ford Explorer will feature an optional 2.0L I-4 with the auto maker’s trademark EcoBoost technology, which combines turbocharging with direct injection.

Against a backdrop of steadily rising gasoline prices, the engine – which comes later in the vehicle’s launch phase, and only with 2-wheel drive – promises a fuel-economy boost of up to 30% over the ’10 Explorer’s 4.0L V-6.

This translates to city/highway performance of about 19/25 mpg (12.4-9.4 L/100 km). Ford has not released iTs actual rating estimate.

Explorer owners have been “disappointed” in the SUV’s fuel economy, prompting some to shop elsewhere, says Bill Chope, president of Crest Ford in Flat Rock, MI. But with the arrival of the new vehicle, which is based on Ford’s D-segment car platform, he hopes to turn the tables.

“We expect a 35%-40% conquest rate with this vehicle,” Chope tells Ward’s at the Explorer’s unveiling, adding he expects the new Explorer will deliver “above-average” profit margins.

Seating is another selling point. Like the outgoing model, the ’11 Explorer will feature seating for seven, an important consideration for buyers who are turned off by current cross/utility vehicles with the same capability.

The Ford Flex CUV offers room for seven, but its boxy styling is “polarizing,” says a dealer who requests anonymity.

Rugged ’11 Ford Explorer boasts capabilities CUVs can’t match.

Through June, sales of the trendy Flex trailed like-2009 by 9.8%, according to Ward’s data. Further, some consumers shy away from CUVs because those vehicles have assumed a stigma long associated with minivans, says Nicole Ernst, general manager of Friendly Ford in Monroe, MI.

“CUVs have kind of become the ‘mom car,’” Ernst says, adding vehicle such as the Flex and 5-seat Ford Edge “just don’t have enough truck-like appeal.”

Off-road capability and tow ratings are what sets the Explorer apart. While ’11 models equipped with the base-model’s 290-hp 3.5L Ti-VCT V-6 engine feature an adjustable terrain-response system, the vehicle’s towing performance suffers because Ford no longer offers a V-8.

The ’11 Explorer’s maximum rating 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kg), compares with the ’10 model’s 7,115 lbs. (3,227 kg).

The tow rating for an ’11 Explorer outfitted with the 2.0L I-4, which still outguns the ’10 SUV’s V-6 on the horsepower front, 235 to 210, is 2,000-lb. (907-kg).

Still, Explorer owners historically have shunned the fullsize Ford Expedition, which represents a sizable leap. “Some people don’t want to step up that big, so (the Explorer) will be a big hit for us,” says Walt Oben, owner of Southgate Ford in Southgate, MI.

Ernst expects the new vehicles will “fly off the lot.”

The ’11 Explorer also marks a significant shift in marketing strategy. Rather than launch the vehicle using traditional methods, such as an auto show unveiling, Ford is using social-media outlets such as Facebook to generate buzz.

The social-media approach, like Ford used with its Fiesta B-car, works with today’s customers, says Charles Ashdown, dealer principal of Kings Ford in Cincinnati.

In “the old days,” families influenced brand allegiance, he says. “Nowadays, people are looking for what their peers have experienced.”

For this reason, dealers must change with the times. “For those that like the old way, it doesn’t work as well,” Ashdown warns.

link:

http://wardsauto.com/home/dealers_laud_explorer_100727/

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siegen    20

A 2.0L powering a 4,400~ lb SUV.... This might just be worth a test drive. :booyah:

I hope it works. It would be very interesting to say the least, but I am extremely skeptical of both the performance and mileage.

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pow    106

A 2.0L powering a 4,400~ lb SUV.... This might just be worth a test drive. :booyah:

I hope it works. It would be very interesting to say the least, but I am extremely skeptical of both the performance and mileage.

Can't be worse than the RDX with its five-speed automatic, SHAWHHAHAHWD, and large displacement non-DI turbo four. :D

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A 2.0L powering a 4,400~ lb SUV.... This might just be worth a test drive. :booyah:

I hope it works. It would be very interesting to say the least, but I am extremely skeptical of both the performance and mileage.

Probably no worse than the older Explorers (or other SUVs of similar size) that V6s w/ under 200hp. Better on mileage I would expect.

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siegen    20

Can't be worse than the RDX with its five-speed automatic, SHAWHHAHAHWD, and large displacement non-DI turbo four. :D

Comparing apples to apples, the FWD RDX weighs 3,743 lbs, is smaller than the Explorer, and has a larger engine with more horsepower and torque. Despite the EPA rating, I would be surprised if the Explorer meets the real world mileage of the RDX (which isn't that great to begin with and is not designed for FE).

Direct injection isn't some magic device that has the final say in whether an engine is worthy or not. Honda's SOHC non-DI 14-year-old J-series V6 is still a match for GM's brand new DI V6. That being said, the K23 turbo is not one of Honda's better engines. Comparing Ford's new Ecoboost 4 to it is not saying much (I'm sure the Ecoboost would provide better mileage in the RDX, since it's smaller, but that's not the point). With the Explorer you're talking about a vehicle that's going to weigh 600 lbs more at the least, and have a much larger surface area to fight against. A 2.0L is going to feel awfully underpowered when not in boost, and while in boost it will suck fuel like all turbos do.

One last note. I wouldn't be surprised if the RDX gets a 6-speed sometime in the next year or so. FMC is coming up I think.

Edited by siegen

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regfootball    250

wow, it's 2011, Honda is on the cutting edge with its first 6 speed transmissions!!!!!!!!!!

really, honda, 6 speed transmissions? LMAO.

My Ford 500 had one back in TWO THOUSAND FIVE.

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siegen    20

wow, it's 2011, Honda is on the cutting edge with its first 6 speed transmissions!!!!!!!!!!

really, honda, 6 speed transmissions? LMAO.

My Ford 500 had one back in TWO THOUSAND FIVE.

What does this have to do with anything? You realize my last line about the 6-speed was just an FYI.

It's amazing how these discussions go:

Me: "The explorer will be slow with a 2.0L"

Counter arguments: "It can't be worse than the RDX, zing!", "Took Honda long enough to get a 6-speed, zing!", "Generic unrelated Honda-bashing comment, zing!"

Does my presence cause people to post unrelated negative Honda comments? :scratchchin:

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