Ford Explorer:

Ford SUVs – Juggernaut Continues


Ford SUVs are the key to future success in Ford’s business.  As Ford leaves the sedan (not car) business, they have given the first glimpse of their all new 2020 Explorer Crossover SUV (XSUV). The new Explorer replaces the fifth generation D4 platform Explorer with a totally modern platform. The all new body is unitized just like its predecessor but it is now rear wheel drive giving up its previous front wheel drive architecture. Explorer looks much like its predecessors with evolutionary, but modern, styling. Rear wheel drive lets its proportions be much more contemporary.

Features will be a major part of the Explorer story going forward.  The new Explorer XSUV gains the Ford CoPilot 360+ suite of safety and driver assistance features. When launched, Explorer arguably will be the most feature laden vehicle offered by Ford.

Of particular note is Explorer’s Powertrain lineup. Base engine is a 300HP 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder, the upscale engine will be a 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 making 365HP.  The sporty ST model goes one step further gaining 35 more horsepower with the 3.0L Twin Turbo. There is also a hybrid version available that mainly will be pitched to police forces due to its higher fuel economy.

We haven’t driven the Explorer yet, but it promises to be very good and probably the best Explorer off-road than ever. Admittedly, previous gen Explorers were pretty mediocre off-road compared to competition.

The story of Ford SUVs doesn’t end with Explorer. It is educational to look at their present SUV lineup in the charts below. Starting with the barely competitive EcoSport, the lineup marches upwards in five to ten inch increments with Ford SUVs covering everything from the EcoSport Compact XSUV to the gargantuan Expedition Max.

EcoSport is the oldest of the bunch, but the platform for the Premium Mid-Size Edge is getting a little long in the tooth even with a 2019MY freshening. The high volume Escape gets a complete re-do in late 2019 or early 2020. Coming later is a reincarnation of the off-road Bronco to combat Jeep’s popular Wrangler.  Also later, an additional baby Bronco will be launched slotted below the hard-core off-reader.

Ford clearly does not intend to give up any ground it the hyper-competitive SUV market.

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2016 Honda Pilot – Finally Good Looking


The Honda Pilot, good as it might be, has been a blight on the road.  Its eyeball searing gawky looks were only short of the not-lamented Pontiac Aztec.  These are harsh comments, but a vehicle that makes you scream when you first see at an auto show is certainly a show stopper and not in a good way.  Honda defends the previous Pilot as having traditional sport utility vehicle styling.  That may be so, but it was very third world and inappropriate for the American market.  Lasting for an extremely long cycle for Honda – seven years – the Pilot was a very good vehicle under the skin and its interior was commodious to say the least.  But, now it’s thankfully dead and to be replaced by the third generation 2016 Honda Pilot on June 18, 2015.2016 Honda Pilot F34 VehicleVoice2016 Honda Pilot R34 VehicleVoice


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2016 Ford Explorer – Major Minor Change


The 2016 Ford Explorer marks the 25th anniversary of the vehicle line.  When it launched as a 1991 model, the Explorer redefined what a sport utility vehicle should be – it was a high volume SUV with 4-doors (Ford wrongly estimated 4-door sales would be 30% of the mix – later, it became 100%).  7,000,000 sales later, Ford is launching a nicely updated mid-cycle product change.  When the 2016 Ford Explorer launches, most people won’t be able to tell the difference from the present Explorer.  While the vehicle’s sheetmetal ahead of the A-Pillar is all new and the liftgate and taillamps are all new, the differences are subtle to the casual observer. So while the change for 2016 is major, its appearance change is minor.2016 Ford Explorer F34 VehicleVoice2016 Ford Explorer R34 VehicleVoice


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2015 Ford Edge Goes Sportier… and Global


2015 Ford Edge F342015 Ford Edge R34Ford has one of the broadest SUV lineups in the industry with Escape, Edge, Explorer, Flex and Expedition and the 2015 model year is time for a new Edge.  Interestingly, Ford’s introduction to the Edge omitted the word “crossover”.  They are merely referring to it as a “mid-size utility”.  The concept execution of the new Edge was shown to the media on Tuesday, November 19 at a venue in the Los Angeles garment district.  It was shown to the wider media at the Los Angeles Auto Show the next day.

The 2015 Ford Edge is designed to be sold globally and especially targeted at China and the USA.  It is based on the front wheel drive platform of the hot-selling Ford Fusion.  It retains the dimensions of its predecessor but adds an inch of wheelbase.  The styling is sportier than before with the new Ford hexagonal grille treatment, more muscular bodyside graphics and a faster backlite.  At a glance, it is still obviously an Edge.

The styling of the new Edge is an appropriate evolution from its predecessor, but technology may be where the Edge breaks the mold.  Ford executives were using the term “democratization of technology” a lot at the show.  This means that new technology will be available up and down the Ford lineup from the Escape and Focus to the Flex and Taurus.

The upcoming Edge has a full suite of whizbang features available:  EcoBoost powertrains, active park assist, a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, MyFordTouch.  The concept is shown with a 10-inch touch screen in the center stack.  They make a big deal that their old capacitive switches are gone and replaced with “premium mechanical switchgear”.

While the LA Show vehicle is officially termed a “concept”, it is very close to the production model coming later in 2014.

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2009 Ford Explorer Wins AutoPacific 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award


2009_FordExplorer_IVA.jpg“Ford Explorer’s win of AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award shows that Ford has designed a Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle that is ideal for its buyers. Explorer also won AutoPacific’s 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. The Explorer has been a top competitor in this class for almost twenty years and Ford has become a master in SUV design. Ford clearly understands what these buyers want and have delivered,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc. “In a product segment where buyers value ease of use, generous passenger and cargo space in a good-looking vehicle, owners rate the Explorer above all the rest.” Top-scoring Explorer attributes include:
* Exterior styling
* Ride and handling
* Cargo space

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2009 Ford Explorer Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Premium Mid-Size SUV


2009_FordExplorer.jpgFord Explorer is the vehicle that started it all, way back in 1991. As the first of the modern four-door SUVs, Explorer turned the market around. The 2009 Explorer continues its excellence as a vehicle for all seasons. Owners rate it tops in the Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility category, with a high score in most categories. Rather than class-leading scores all around, the key to this win is having no low score in any area. In addition, the Explorer is segment leader in the following areas:
• Ride and handling
• Safety features
• Controls have quality feel/operation
• Seating capacity and comfort
• Flexible/changeable seating
• Cargo space/capacity
• Ease of loading/unloading cargo
• Overall dealer experience was also best in class

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SUVs Most Satisfying Vehicle Type


AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.

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Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Kia Sorento, HUMMER H3 and Toyota FJ Cruiser. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
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Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X3, Acura RDX, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Veracruz, Suzuki XL-7, Ford Edge, Saturn Vue, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!

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Ford Explorer Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility:



The Explorer is the vehicle that launched the modern SUV category in 1991 and Ford has used these years to understand the SUV market better than any other manufacturer. The result is that Ford Explorer wins as Most Ideal Mid-Size SUV with consistently good results across the fifteen rating categories. Ford’s planners, designers and engineers understand what buyers of Mid-Size SUVs want. Explorer was over segment average in all 15 categories and scores particularly well with respect to passenger room, cargo room, handling, technology, and power and acceleration.

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Ford Edge Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV:



Showing that Ford Motor Company planners, designers and engineers not only know the traditional SUV market better than most with Ideal Vehicle Award wins by the Ford Expedition and Ford Explorer, Ford’s all new crossover SUVs win in their categories as well. Ford’s new Edge wins as Ideal Premium Crossover SUV. Edge not only wins its category, but has the highest “Ideal” ratings of any SUV overall. Edge is a sales success…and buyers often consider it near ideal. Few buyers would change the exterior size or styling. Both ride and handling are highly rated, as are technology level and interior storage.

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LA Auto Show – 2008 Ford Escape


The Ford Escape was Ford’s first Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle. When it was launched, it hit the sweet spot in the SUV market… good size, great interior package, super visibility, well-priced, looked like an SUV. Over the years, Ford essentially did nothing to the Escape to keep it overtly fresh except launch the Escape Hybrid – a really good move, but not something that sold huge volumes of Escapes.


Now, for the 2008 model year, Ford has implemented what the industry calls a “front and rear six”. This means that, keeping doors, roof, windshield, windows, etc the same, Escape gets new styling for the front “six inches” and for the rear “six inches”. In addition, the Escape gets an interior freshening.
The puzzling part of the Escape redo, however, is the use of a eggcrate grille rather than the horizontal bar motif now rolling out on Ford Edge and Explorer and Expedition. While these three SUVs all are on the market now with the new-look Ford Truck front end, Ford insiders confess that the Escape’s front end styling was approved before the Edge, et al and that there would have been a delay if they had circled around to do the “right thing”. Reality bites.

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