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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: 1560117

Reported Deaths: 20796
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2118112563
Lake1021301523
Allen964791027
Hamilton75541551
St. Joseph66476761
Elkhart51045634
Vanderburgh50511531
Tippecanoe45721338
Johnson39600527
Hendricks37933463
Porter35132476
Madison30330547
Clark27296331
Vigo26401347
Monroe24100249
LaPorte23921313
Howard23237381
Delaware22453370
Hancock19314220
Bartholomew18980216
Kosciusko18400204
Warrick17733216
Wayne16982303
Floyd16686257
Grant15966300
Morgan15091232
Boone13924138
Dearborn12235113
Shelby12225152
Noble12170142
Henry12027202
Dubois11696152
Marshall11625171
Jackson11111104
Cass10578143
Lawrence10529221
Huntington10523140
DeKalb10482132
Gibson10114127
Montgomery9671144
Harrison9471117
Knox9415125
Whitley902571
Steuben8934105
Putnam8542100
Miami8533135
Clinton849397
Jasper8462116
Jefferson8319127
Wabash8027140
Ripley7504117
Scott685787
Adams6829103
Daviess6825130
White638184
Greene6317112
Clay628975
Decatur6261121
Jennings619781
Wells6090121
Fayette6054122
Posey580148
LaGrange549097
Randolph5364129
Washington528071
Owen5211100
Fountain493681
Spencer467456
Sullivan462066
Fulton450993
Orange449784
Starke448887
Rush433941
Jay432564
Perry409155
Carroll394749
Franklin394650
Vermillion370762
Pike334246
Parke331239
Tipton330475
Blackford282255
Pulaski281775
Brown239856
Newton239761
Benton228921
Crawford224932
Switzerland207914
Martin196722
Warren183922
Union178119
Ohio129216
Unassigned0763

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2515949

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2719422100
Cuyahoga2606673087
Hamilton1758091756
Montgomery1177451651
Summit1089011418
Lucas935321193
Butler83907963
Stark771001431
Lorain64214809
Warren53428489
Mahoning51224930
Lake47591611
Clermont46928452
Delaware41107220
Trumbull39746790
Licking38790416
Medina38646427
Fairfield35828349
Greene34313435
Portage32429366
Clark32361453
Richland29653444
Wood29379301
Allen25875403
Miami24243408
Muskingum23564255
Columbiana23046409
Wayne22093365
Tuscarawas19637428
Marion18616235
Erie18608224
Ashtabula18569362
Scioto18159214
Ross17594260
Pickaway16419181
Hancock16115232
Geauga15511229
Lawrence15094186
Belmont14236248
Union1419584
Huron13908184
Jefferson13656261
Sandusky13268200
Athens12877107
Knox12160201
Seneca12055204
Darke11440202
Ashland11248184
Washington11152172
Auglaize10873147
Crawford10432178
Shelby10402160
Brown10094145
Highland9746151
Fulton9726154
Guernsey9683122
Defiance9567137
Logan9470147
Clinton9428132
Mercer9099112
Madison9032111
Preble8524170
Williams8305138
Putnam8069136
Champaign8040113
Ottawa7971123
Jackson7848121
Perry7514102
Coshocton7411136
Morrow729184
Fayette715992
Pike666689
Hardin6564133
Gallia638891
Adams6227127
Van Wert6065121
Henry602596
Hocking5918105
Wyandot503594
Carroll5009101
Holmes4880167
Paulding426465
Meigs400974
Monroe316468
Harrison299162
Noble296952
Morgan292748
Vinton258646
Unassigned08
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Hi: 21° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: -17°
Van Wert
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Bitterly cold wind chills are expected across the region Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
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