Detroit Auto Show Preview: Ford Explorer America Concept Unveiled

The Ford Explorer has been one of the most popular SUVs since it was introduced in the early nineties. But today the Explorer is being overshadowed by the new car based SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4 and even the new Ford Edge.

Crossovers are where the segment is going and for the next generation Explorer, Ford is going to ditch the body-on-frame design that has been part of the Explorer since it was introduced. This month Ford is going to unveil the Ford Explorer America concept at the Detroit Auto Show. The concept is based on a unibody design and is similar in size to the current Explorer. According to Ford the Explorer America concept provides hints of what the new Explorer will look like when it is released later this decade.

In addition to the new design Ford is also placing an emphasis on fuel economy. The concept ditches the current Explorer V6 and V8 engines for more fuel efficient powertrains. A 4-cyl 2-liter engine with EcoBoost technology delivering 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque and a 3.5-liter V-6 delivering about 340 hp are part of the new concept. Ford claims that depending on engine selection fuel economy should improve between 20 to 30 percent over the current 4.0L V6.

Stay tuned for more details from the show.

More info on Ford’s new engines:
Detroit Auto Show Preview: Ford Unveils EcoBoost Turbo Direct Injection Engines

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The Ford Explorer America concept showcases a new kind of utility for the vehicle customers have known and loved for years: even better fuel efficiency.

“Customers are smart. They value vehicles – the more efficient, the better,” said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president of Marketing and Communications. “Ford gets it.

“Innovative technologies can transform people’s favorite vehicles. Look at SYNC, the Ford system that connects people and their favorite portable devices, including media players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, while in their vehicles.”

Technologies and engineering innovations help Explorer America concept deliver an approximately 20 to 30 percent fuel-economy improvement, depending on engine selection, while providing room for six and their gear as well as moderate towing and off-roading capabilities.

This smarter utility concept simplifies Ford Motor Company’s systems approach for delivering sustainable vehicles, specifically demonstrating:
A powertrain lineup that includes a 4-cylinder 2-liter engine with EcoBoost technology delivering 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque or, as a premium engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 delivering about 340 hp. Depending on engine selection, fuel-efficiency will improve by 20 to 30 percent versus today’s V-6 Explorer
Migration from current body-on-frame to unibody construction, reducing weight and delivering superior driving dynamics
A fuel-efficient 6-speed transmission with auto shift control, allowing the driver to select and hold a lower gear with just the turn of a dial when conditions warrant it
A weight reduction of 150 pounds for the V-6 version thanks to its downsized – yet superior performing – engine, as well as more lightweight materials, suspension and chassis components
Fuel-saving electric power assisted steering (EPAS) and other engine actions that deliver a fuel savings benefit of about 5 percent. Between 80 to 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles will have EPAS by 2012

In addition to its fuel-efficient powertrain and technologies, the Explorer America concept addresses how the SUV market has changed in the past 15 years.

In the 1990s, customers were drawn by SUVs aligned with people’s adventurous, more rugged lifestyles. Today’s consumers are more discerning, demanding products that are capable and flexible – but more intelligently executed.

The Explorer America concept looks the part, too, with a modern, muscular design language that belies its ability to harness today’s active lifestyles. Its integrated three-bar grille, defined power dome hood, wrap-around rear glass panel window and sliding rear door give the appearance that this concept is ready for modern Lewis-and-Clark types to explore, from their own neighborhoods to the trail head.

Inside, intelligent features abound, including: single-touch stackable, sliding seats that allow for convenient access to the second row; a work table with seats deploy from the tailgate; and a three-dimensional compass and navigation unit with a topographical map built right into the instrument panel.