Ford Explorer 2011 debuts as a crossover
After bothering people via a dedicated Facebook group for months, Ford has finally unveiled the all-new 2011 Explorer. As known earlier, the new Ford Explorer is based on the same platform that underpins the Taurus and the Flex, which unfortunately means the demise of the outgoing body-on-frame Explorer platform and its inherent off-road capabilities. Rather, Ford claims to “reinvents the Explorer SUV with best-in-class fuel economy, improved driving dynamics and terrain management system, all wrapped in a modern, weight-saving design.”
The unibody 2011 Explorer “crossover” now gets the choice of a 2.0-litre turbo-4 or a 3.5-litre V6, both thoroughly modern compared to the outdated engines they’d been peddling. Both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive setups are available, both with 6-speed automatics.
The 2.0-litre EcoBoost inline-4 is turbocharged and intercooled, good for 237 hp at 5,500 rpm and 339 Nm of torque from 1,700 rpm to 4,000 rpm. The EcoBoost has direct injection, variable camshaft timing and four valves per cylinder.
The 3.5-litre V6 offers an estimated 290 hp and 345 Nm of torque, with variable camshaft timing and 20% better fuel economy than the awful old V6.
Ironically, Ford still claims the Explorer has off-road capability. Replacing the traditional transfer case, a new terrain management system, cribbed from their former Land Rover division, uses settings for road, mud, sand and snow. This modifies engine behaviour, throttle tip-in, transmission shift scheduling and calibrations for traction and stability control systems, with Hill Descent Control included. There is no low-range gearing.
New safety features include an overkill of airbags including industry-first inflatable rear seat belts, as well as a special front impact structure, AdvanceTrac stability control with Roll Stability Control and new Curve Control functionality. Options include adaptive cruise control integrating collision warning with brake support, and a Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert.
The interior seems to be a very basic design, but hopefully now with better cabin materials than the hard plastics of all Explorers past. In terms of tech, the Explorer features the MyFord Touch and SYNC integrated communications and entertainment system. There are three rows of seating, but some concern exists over the narrow appearance of the cargo area tailgate opening.
The 2011 Explorer will hit U.S. dealerships by winter, so a GCC debut will likely be held off till early 2011. Since the recession, Ford Middle East has shifted focus to Saudi Arabia rather than the UAE, so a KSA launch first wouldn’t be surprising.
Keep track of updates in the Ford Explorer buyer guide.