Explorer America Concept Presents Ford's Sustainable Strategy
To help explain its vehicle sustainability strategy, Ford has created the Explorer America concept for the 2008 North American International Auto Show.
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."
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.
- 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 horsepower. Depending on engine selection, fuel-efficiency can 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
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.
While this vehicle is officially considered a concept, Ford implies that the design does indicate the future direction for SUVs in the Ford lineup. The Ecoboost powertrain is a definite yes.
By Brandy Schaffels