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Ford hopes Explorer's safety features will draw families

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Ford hopes Explorer's safety features will draw families

By BRENT SNAVELY

FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

Ford is hoping that families looking for a new vehicle will be drawn to the long list of safety features available on the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer.

The new Explorer includes a feature called curve control, as well as the industry's first inflatable seat belts for the second row. Curve control, which will swiftly apply brakes to help drivers stay on course if they enter a curve too fast, comes standard on the Explorer, and the inflatable seat belts are available as an option for $195.

"This is a Ford Motor Co. statement about how important safety is," said Jim Holland, chief engineer for the Explorer.

The Explorer rollover scandal in 2000 was one of the highest-profile automotive safety scandals in history. It caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to launch an investigation into rollover accidents. That probe and consumer lawsuits led to Ford and Firestone recalling more than 19 million tires.

Research shows most consumers have forgotten about the Explorer's past, said Frank Davis, Ford's vice president of product development.

Still, Ford has loaded the Explorer with safety features for those who might not have forgotten and to appeal to families with precious cargo.

"Safety is the foundation for any vehicle that is a family adventure vehicle," Davis said.

The Explorer is a three-row vehicle and can seat seven passengers, making it ideal for the introduction of rear inflatable seat belts, Holland said.

"What we find is, a lot of times, the passengers in the second row are children, or older people, that are more susceptible to injuries in the chest," Holland said. "The air bag inflates and distributes the crash load better than a single belt."

Ford also will include a new four-way adjustable head restraint on the Explorer, for a total of 12 possible positions. The four-way head restraint is standard on any vehicle with leather seats.

"Explorer is one of our bread-and-butter vehicles ... and we've got a great opportunity to introduce a few features on it that aren't in the marketplace right now," Holland said.

Read more: Ford hopes Explorer's safety features will draw families | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20101213/BUSINESS01/12130327/Ford-hopes-Explorer-s-safety-features-will-draw-families#ixzz1826vgDE2

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