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Ford Explorer America – North American International Auto Show

Explorer America – A Sustainable Showcase
To help explain its vehicle sustainability strategy, Ford has created the Explorer America concept for the 2008 North American International Auto Show. Actually, the Explorer America tips Ford’s hand about the next generation Explorer due in 2010. Shifting from a body-on-frame traditional SUV to a unit body crossover SUV, Ford shows they firmly believe that crossovers are where the SUV market is headed.

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The key here is the style and the package Ford is showing. Still a Premium Mid-Size SUV, Explorer America picks up more adventuresome styling than any Explorer before. It has overstated wheels and tires, large wheel openings, a tough and rugged appearance and a lowered roof line. Hopefully, the lowered roofline will be raised by production because spaciousness and headroom are things that SUV-buyers covet.
On the driver side, Explorer America has two conventional sedan-style doors. On the passenger side, Explorer America has a conventional front door and a sliding rear door like a minivan. Sometimes, automakers use center-opening or sliding doors on concept vehicles to allow them to showcase the interior better, so it is not known if the slider would make it to production. Anyway, it is an interesting approach.
Showcase for EcoBoost 4-Cylinder Turbo Powertrain
From Ford’s early January press release….
The Explorer America concept delivers an approximately 20 to 30 percent fuel-economy improvement – depending on engine selection – while providing room for six and their gear, along with moderate towing and off-roading capabilities.
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A powertrain lineup 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
Aerodynamic and other parasitic improvements that add up to a 5 percent fuel economy gain
The production model of the Explorer changed the landscape when it arrived on the scene in 1990 as a 1991 model, delivering an experience as unique as the owners who would eventually shape the design of the Explorer America concept.
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Today’s Explorer leads the mid-size SUV segment in sales. Since its introduction 18 years ago, Explorer has sold more than 6.5 million vehicles.

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