In late 2010, Ford will be launching the 2011 Ford Explorer, a complete remake of a vehicle that arguably started the North American love affair with the SUV.
Turns out this could be one of those rare redesigns that is more like a rebirth, mainly because of what Ford has done with the interior. The Explorer’s cabin, from the smooth feel of the door handles to the attractive colors and sharp graphics on its central display screen, shows attention to detail found in some luxury cars, but never in a Ford truck.
Ford combines turbocharging with direct injection in its optional 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost to get the power of a V6 engine with the fuel economy of a four.
Combined with various changes that make the Explorer lighter, Ford says this engine will help give it class-leading fuel economy and will achieve 30% better fuel economy than the V6 powering its predecessor. The EcoBoost delivers 237 horsepower at a 5,500 rpm and 250 pound-feet of torque between 1,700 and 4,000 rpm, which Ford says will ensure flexible power delivery. Exact consumption figures haven’t been released yet, but the old Explorer had a combined rating of 13.6 litres per 100 kilometres. Less 30%, that’s 9.52 L/100 km.
For 2011, the Explorer will be 3.7 inches longer than the 2010 model, but rides on a wheelbase that is 1.1 inches shorter. There is a totally new and richer-looking interior, but one that should be familiar to any Ford owner. Third-row seating will be available and cargo volume behind the first row of seats is listed at 80.7 cubic feet, down three cubic feet from the current model.
Another Land Rover-ish feature is the available Terrain Management System with Hill Descent, controlled by a rotary dial on the centre console (with icons lifted right from Land Rover’s “Terrain Response” system). As with the British off-roader, the presets (normal, snow, sand, mud/ruts) adjust the responses of the vehicle’s engine, transmission, AWD system, and stability control system to match the demands of the terrain.
Along with a redesign of the exterior, the interior of the 2011 Ford Explorer is expected to see changes. The Explorer has three rows of seating. It should be available with Sync, a navigation system, cruise control, cup holders, an audio system with mp3 player, CD player, and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. Higher trim levels and options should include leather seats, DVD player, USB port, Bluetooth compatibility, and a rear view camera.
The 2011 Explorer is available with the MyFord Touch on the XLT and Limited trims, and the SUV can also be equipped with a Wi-Fi hot spot. With that amount of distraction, it’s probably best that Ford outfitted this car with every safety bell and whistle on the market, including inflatable seat belts, cross traffic sensors, and the new CURVE control feature.
The pricing makes the rest of the case: the 2011 Explorer starts at $28,995–$1,000 less than the current model. It’s also $1,000 less than the 2010 Ford Flex SE. Fully loaded, the 2011 Ford Explorer LMT is $36,995, which includes the enhanced MyFord Touch.