Next-gen Ford Explorer confirmed for Chicago production, EcoBoost included

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The new Explorer was previewed at last year's Detroit show as the Explorer America

The new Explorer was previewed at last year's Detroit show as the Explorer America

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As General Motors' highest ranks are shaken up and the ink on Chrysler's alliance with Fiat is still drying, word of Ford's plans for one of its core models has emerged. A radically redesigned, car-based and turbocharged Ford Explorer will be built in Chicago for the 2011 model year according to the latest reports.

Confirming plans laid over a year ago at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Ford will build the next-generation Explorer at its Chicago plant. The new vehicle is hoped to breathe life back into the plant that's seen heavy cuts and layoffs as part of Ford's austerity measures. The Chicago location is the result of UAW negotiations, with the union conceding pay and benefits for the production of the Explorer.

But the exciting part of the deal for Ford fans - and car enthusiasts in general - is the dramatic new look and potential performance of the 2011 Explorer. Built around a 3.5L V6 version of the EcoBoost powerplant rated at an expected 340hp and possibly offering a four-cylinder variant of the twin-turbo system good for 275hp and 280lb-ft of torque, the next Explorer could prove a perfect balance of size, flexibility, performance and economy for many families.

The EcoBoost system is expected to deliver up to 30% improvement in fuel economy while increasing power at the same time. Anyone familiar with the power delivery of a modern twin turbo engine knows the perception of power can be even greater, since it is available from low RPMs and almost instantaneously, rather than only at the top of the rev range like in naturally aspirated engines, or after a pause for turbo lag in single-spool applications.

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