Ford redesigns 'world's most popular SUV'

Ford has unveiled a completely new version of the Explorer SUV, a model that helped fuel the SUV craze when it was first introduced in the 1...

Posted: Jan 10, 2019 9:11 AM

Ford has unveiled a completely new version of the Explorer SUV, a model that helped fuel the SUV craze when it was first introduced in the 1990s. It's still one of the company's most popular products and will be even more important to Ford now that the automaker has announced it is dropping nearly all car models from its North American lineup in favor of SUVs, crossovers and trucks.

Almost 8 million Explorers have been sold and Ford bills it as the "best-selling SUV of all time." A famous rollover-related recall scandal in the early 2000s — fatal crashes, blamed on faulty Firestone tires, led to more stringent recall regulations — did little to dampen enthusiasm for the model over the long term. The Explorer is now entering its sixth generation.

Part of the Explorer's success is that it appeals to an amazingly broad swath of customers covering a wide range of ages and social classes. Shoppers can choose from a base model Explorer for a little over $30,000 or add options to a top-of-the-line Ford Explorer Platinum, creating what is essentially a luxury SUV with a price tag well over $60,000. Prices for the new Explorer will be only about $400 higher, Ford has said.

At a glance, the new Explorer might not look that different from the one you see on the streets now, but it's actually a completely different vehicle. Most noticeable is a sleeker body style with a more sloped roofline, a design that, Ford executives say, was inspired by yachts.

"The Explorer has been really successful for us and so we didn't want to change the experience dramatically, but we did want to update it, we wanted to modernize it, we wanted to change the presence," said Cristina Aquino, Ford's large utility marketing manager.

The Explorer you can buy today is based on front-wheel-drive engineering that it shares with the Ford Taurus. The new Explorer returns to rear-wheel-drive engineering as was once traditional for SUVs. The Explorer is still available with all-wheel-drive, of course, but now more of the power goes to the rear wheels, which is better for towing.

This new Explorer will also be better off-road than the current model, according to Ford. The front wheels are closer to the front bumper, which improves climbing ability and it's also almost an inch higher off the ground.

The SUV's "Terrain Management System," which can be set using a knob in the center console area, has up to seven different modes including deep snow and sand, slippery, sport and an "eco" mode for fuel-efficient driving. The different modes change how power is delivered to the wheels among other things.

A 10-inch touchscreen is available as an option. It's mounted vertically and sticks up from the center of the dashboard. This design makes it look like a separate piece clipped to the dashboard but it keeps the screen up near eye level. A more typical 8-inch screen mounted sideways is standard. Ford made both designs available, Aquino said, because less tech-savvy buyers might not be comfortable with something resembling an iPad being so prominent in their vehicle.

Also available is a new active parking system that, like technology in Tesla models and some other luxury cars, can park the vehicle entirely on its own. Sensors scan for a space and, once one is found, the driver needs only to put the SUV in reverse, then hold a finger down on a button and the Explorer will park itself handling the brakes, accelerator and steering on its own. The system works for both parallel and back-in spaces.

Among the available engine options are a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 in higher-end models. There will also be a hybrid Explorer for the first time. The new Explorer will be built in Chicago and is expected to go on sale this summer.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 725353

Reported Deaths: 13373
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion990831737
Lake53265963
Allen40302675
Hamilton35392408
St. Joseph35350550
Elkhart28304438
Tippecanoe22315217
Vanderburgh22252396
Porter18596306
Johnson17856376
Hendricks17121313
Clark12908191
Madison12549339
Vigo12400244
Monroe11827168
LaPorte11736210
Delaware10595185
Howard9837215
Kosciusko9358117
Hancock8225140
Bartholomew8038155
Warrick7761155
Floyd7636177
Wayne7007199
Grant7003174
Boone6660101
Morgan6543139
Dubois6143117
Marshall5973111
Dearborn577977
Cass5777105
Henry5675102
Noble556583
Jackson500172
Shelby488596
Lawrence4482120
Gibson434191
Harrison433071
Clinton426653
DeKalb424184
Montgomery423188
Whitley393739
Huntington386980
Steuben381857
Miami379766
Knox371190
Jasper362147
Putnam358260
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Jefferson328881
White312554
Daviess295499
Wells290481
Decatur283392
Fayette278462
Greene276285
Posey270733
Scott264553
LaGrange264270
Clay258645
Randolph239781
Washington239332
Spencer230831
Jennings229048
Starke213852
Fountain211846
Sullivan210942
Owen196356
Fulton194240
Jay190930
Carroll187820
Perry182537
Orange182154
Rush172725
Vermillion167843
Franklin167235
Tipton161945
Parke145616
Blackford134332
Pike132834
Pulaski116045
Newton107034
Brown101441
Crawford99114
Benton98114
Martin87515
Warren80915
Switzerland7828
Union70610
Ohio56211
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1078734

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1253471392
Cuyahoga1113202107
Hamilton797471200
Montgomery512091012
Summit46916933
Lucas41890782
Butler38250580
Stark32150907
Lorain24874480
Warren24236297
Mahoning21439586
Lake20548368
Clermont19719238
Delaware18478131
Licking16384210
Fairfield16116199
Trumbull15974466
Medina15213262
Greene15013244
Clark13942297
Wood13038188
Portage12792201
Allen11590231
Richland11300198
Miami10656215
Muskingum8787132
Wayne8760210
Columbiana8743229
Pickaway8540121
Marion8502135
Tuscarawas8461243
Erie7840154
Hancock6884126
Ross6830152
Ashtabula6765169
Geauga6664148
Scioto6393101
Belmont5837167
Union569647
Lawrence5542102
Jefferson5487151
Huron5419119
Darke5342122
Sandusky5322120
Seneca5258121
Athens518158
Washington5138109
Auglaize487884
Mercer479785
Shelby467693
Knox4477110
Madison435061
Putnam4263100
Ashland420989
Fulton420469
Defiance417797
Crawford3960106
Brown392457
Logan380976
Preble378498
Clinton369961
Ottawa366179
Highland353161
Williams337275
Champaign329658
Guernsey315353
Jackson311851
Perry294550
Morrow283739
Fayette281049
Hardin270164
Henry267966
Coshocton263958
Holmes2591101
Van Wert242663
Pike237333
Adams236552
Gallia235048
Wyandot230654
Hocking214862
Carroll191047
Paulding171740
Meigs144339
Noble133437
Monroe131242
Morgan108323
Harrison107437
Vinton82115
Unassigned02
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