2011 Ford Explorer Preview

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Finally, after months of drip-fed teasers, mysterious leaked shots and countless spy images, the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer has finally been revealed in all its glory. The new ute is an accurate representation of current trends in the new car market and the embodiment of everything that Ford is doing right.

Yes, you read that correctly. The latest generation of the Explorer will come onto the market with a new car-based platform, a lighter and more streamlined body, fuel efficient downsized engines and several world-firsts in safety technology.

That doesn’t mean the Explorer has gone soft, however. It still sports a “4WD” badge to appease those 20 percent of Explorer owners who like to take their vehicles off-road. There’s also a generous 7.9 inches of ground clearance as well as the advanced Terrain Management System developed in conjunction with Land Rover. This latter feature lets the driver select one of four settings to identify the road surface--normal, sand, mud and ruts, or snow mode--as well as offering Hill Descent control that requires the driver only to steer while the car descends at a safe pace.

One obvious distinction between the 2011 Ford Explorer and its more truck-like predecessors is the SUV’s new fuel efficient engine lineup. Customers will be able to pick from two engine choices; a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine displacing just 2.0-liters and developing 237 horsepower and 250 foot-pound of torque, and a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 with twin independently timed overhead camshafts and an output of 290 horsepower. The two engines are 30 percent and 32 percent more fuel efficient, respectively, than the previous generation’s V-6 and V-8 powerplants.

Each Explorer engine is paired with a unique six-speed automatic transmission, combining lowered initial gears for improved off-the-line acceleration and higher gearing for improved efficiency at lower engine rpm when cruising.

When it comes to safety, the new 2011 Ford Explorer is a leader in this segment. It will be the world’s first vehicle to offer inflatable safety belts, for the two outboard seats in the second row. Those are what Ford calls the "family oriented seats," where both children and older passengers are likely to ride. The inflatable belts spread the restraint load if triggered, reducing the force on any specific body part--and they also inflate high enough up to restrain forward head motion.

High strength steels, an array of airbags, side canopies that are triggered if the car rolls over, and a number of electronic safety warning systems including blind-spot assist, cross-traffic alert, radar-based adaptive cruise control with automatic brakes, new SYNC with 911 assist and SOS Post-Crash Alert, and a new curve control feature that slows the vehicle as much as 10 mph a second (and illuminates the brake lights) if it enters a curve too fast, all add to the new Explorer’s stellar safety credentials.

Despite a sleeker overall appearance, the 2011 Ford Explorer is just as big as ever. In fact, it’s a full five inches wider than its predecessor, with plenty of space for seven people and all their gear. Inside, the interior is a notable step up from the previous Explorer. It's fully car-like, and only the rotating Terrain Management System knob on the console--with a center button for Hill Descent Control--gives away its off-pavement capabilities.

All-in-all there are 12 class exclusives for the 2011 Ford Explorer, in safety, connectivity, and features. They include the latest incarnation of the MyFordTouch interface system and the MyKey system nanny monitoring feature that allows parents to set limits on certain vehicle parameters--radio volume, maximum speed, seatbelt usage--for new or teenaged drivers, as well as an active parking-assist system, LED ambient interior lighting, and the capless EasyFuel system.

First sales of the 2011 Ford Explorer are scheduled to start later this year.


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Comments (19)
  1. I have to admit, this is a pretty good looking vehicle up front, just not so happy about the back, but way to go Ford

  2. Call me crazy, but my first glimpse of the whole 2011 Explorer screamed out Toyota FJ Cruiser!

  3. My word, good job Ford! While it doesn't appear to match the quality of the luxury brands, all the technology and features, advanced engines and modern styling of this new Explorer are truly world-beating. BMW and Mercedes better pull their heads out of the sand if they want people to pay the huge premiums for their cars. And no I'm not a Ford fanboy - I currently drive a BMW.

  4. Wonder what the towing capacity is gonna be??? 3.5 ltr 6 banger? despite the mount of HP your torturing that engine if you go and put a 7,000 ib camper on it that the 03 V8 explorers are rated to tow!

  5. I never buy a fifth generation Ford Explorer become a crossover. I will buy previous first to forth generation Ford Explorer will classic or used. it was body on frame, RWD/AWD and V6 or V8. I think fifth gen Explorer crossover will more worthless.

  6. Me like as well, I think there is a resurgence of that new-gen American design with all U.S. manufacturers which can only be a good thing.

  7. Ford, I got to give it to you. This vehicle is precious even though I own a Mini Cooper, I might consider on of these only one thought I wish it had a DIESEL engine as another option!!!

  8. I cannot wait for a full comparison between the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee...it's going to be a brawl

  9. Ford is going a big overboard w/ the CUVs ... I guess people wanting a real SUV are gonna have to look elsewhere ...

  10. I've always been so critical when it came to American cars but it seems that people at Ford finally got it and they're stepping up their game to keep up with ze Germans and Japanese competition the interior looks really nice and you can tell that the built quality is good too the exterior is not the greatest but overall i got give it up to Ford two thumbs up

  11. Puleese....this is NOT an SUV....SUV lovers WILL look elsewhere....Honda Pilot....Hellooooooooo
    Here I come.Honda...

  12. I like it. I owned a 2003 Explorer for 6 years. I would defintly consider buying this if I needed to replace my current car.

  13. honday pilot? r u wetaded?

  14. At least Ford has finally stopped using focus groups and started designing cars with a defined style. It's not quite my style, but at least it's a style.

    It looks good, I'll give it that. It will sell, too.
    Me and the other SUV/Truck die hards on this site will have to live with it. Like it or not, we're not the majority, and the few of us who do use the Exploders of old to their capacity will have to get over that, or get a truck. As much as I hate it, I'm willing to admit we're not worth the cost to the companies to cater to.

  16. I still personally think the Aussie Ford Territory would have made a good Explorer

  17. The Explorer should have been called a Fledge. It is more fitting. Flex chassis, Edge front end. Funny though, the Explorer in black reminds me of Darth Vader and in white reminds me of the Storm troopers.

  18. There's a difference between reporting on something and finding ways to make numerous news posts in regards to various and specific aspects of a car.
    It's worth noting that I've been defensive of the Explorer on Jalopnik but I can clearly tell Autoblog's playing Ford's PR game and have mostly ALWAYS been.

  19. This looks like an excellent improvement on the current design. The build is good and interior an improvement - good news, the 4WD badge is on.

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