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One man's vote for 'SUV'

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One man's vote for 'SUV'

Rick Kranz

Automotive News -- August 2, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

When a truck-based SUV moves to a car platform but retains its off-road characteristics, vehicle definitions start to blur.

The real capability test won't come until later this year when Ford takes journalists off-road for a taste of the redesigned 2011 Explorer.

Today, our understanding of the vehicle's capability is based only on statements from Ford engineers and claims in press releases.

But here are two observations:

1. Platform: The new Explorer was developed on a front-drive car platform shared with the Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS and other vehicles. Does this mean the Explorer can't be called an SUV? No.

The Land Rover Freelander that debuted in 1997 was developed on a Ford Motor Co. fwd car platform with a toughened underbody. It's an SUV. Granted, it did not have capability equal to that of other Land Rover and Range Rover models, but it did provide a credible degree of off-road capability. It's no crossover.

2. Off-road capability: Industry observers will focus on the vehicle's off-road capability and Ford's Terrain Management System, the fancy name for the four-wheel-drive system. The driver simply dials in one of four modes -- snow, sand, mud/ruts and normal -- and the vehicle does the rest. It's a no-brainer.

Will the Explorer navigate a steep hill? Ford a creek, so to speak? Climb over a fallen tree and other things crossovers can't handle without serious damage?

My prediction: It will, and that's why Ford is calling the Explorer an SUV.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100802/RETAIL03/308029956/1430#ixzz0vS98VU61

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I'm good with the idea that a car-based SUV can exist, but why can't Rick Kranz (or his editor) check the facts? Ford had nothing to do with the "Land Rover Freelander that debuted in 1997" since Land Rover was owned by BMW and Ford hadn't stepped into the picture for another 3 years. The Freelander/LR2 that debuted in 2006 was based on Ford mechanicals, but the first generation was based on ROVER parts.

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