All-new Ford Explorer Gets a Workout

By Ford Social Member

While more official news about the all-new Ford Explorer will be released later this summer, we thought we’d take you inside Ford for a look at some of the testing being done now to ready the vehicle for production. This testing helps to maximize the fuel economy and quality of the new model.

Julie Levine, Ford Explorer Program Manager, talks about just some of the rigorous testing conducted at the Ford proving grounds and how it impacts the vehicle. Shown in the video are a variety of road surfaces that are used to evaluate the handling of the vehicle and also noise that the driver and passenger hear when driving over similar surfaces. Julie also discusses the convenience and performance of the all-new Terrain Management System. You can read about this system in the article, Ford Makes Selecting the Correct Four Wheel Drive Mode Easy.

The 2011 Ford Explorer with the standard 3.5L V6 engine is projected to offer 25 percent better highway mpg than the V6 Explorer it is replacing.* The vehicle will feature unibody construction, Ford EcoBoost™ engine technology, a six-speed transmission and lightweight materials. In addition, the next-generation Explorer will debut the auto industry’s first-ever production inflatable seat belts, designed to provide additional protection for rear-seat occupants – often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries. The available inflatable rear seat belts spread crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts, which helps to reduce pressure on the chest and to control head and neck motion for rear-seat passengers. Ford eventually plans to offer inflatable seat belt technology on other vehicles globally.

The next-generation Explorer will be built at the Chicago Assembly Plant on a flexible assembly line alongside the new Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans. The all-new Ford Explorer goes in to production later in 2010. You can follow the latest news about the 2011 Explorer by clicking here to become a fan of Ford Explorer on Facebook.
Christopher 08/10/2010
The Everest is not the same as an Explorer. It is built on a totally different chassis. The Everest is pretty nice, though. I like it. I just don't care for 4-banger engines. And that's all you can get in an Everest. I like 6 and 8 cylinders personally. At least the Everest is REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE.
Björn Fenner 07/26/2010
How about a diesel engine for the Explorer !!
Christopher 07/24/2010
Unfortunately, the fuel filler door will probably be on the wrong side of the vehicle. That's one of the very few things about my Lincoln Mark VIII that irritates me. But considering that the new Explorer will be driven by the wrong wheels, it's only natural to conclude that the fuel filler will be on the wrong side. There will doubtless be many other things "wrong" with this new imitation Explorer when comapred to the real Explorer which will die this year. That makes me sad.
Janet Brown 07/23/2010
Will the new Explorer have the gas fill on the driver's side? My husband and I have owned Fords for over 40 years, but when you put the gas fill on the passenger side of the Explorer, we switched to a Honda Pilot. It is extremely inconvenient to pull up to the gas pump on the WRONG side of the vehicle.
Christopher 07/21/2010
You hit the nail on the head. I don't understand why Ford doesn't understand this. There are those of us who actually use our Explorers for more than just going to the grocery store. The Explorer has been THE ultimate midsize SUV for almost 20 years. What is Ford thinking? I just don't understand.
Jimmy 07/20/2010
My 2000 V8 4X4 Explorer is unstoppable in the snow, a two foot snow drift is no match for my truck. I cant say the same for the other sissy imitation SUVs like the Escape, Flex, and the Taurus wagon ( I think Ford calls it the Taurus X to avoid the W word) Those imitation SUVs drive just like a AWD Fusion in two feet of snow, not very well. Another thing this sad new crossover cant do is pull a something. how can a transaxle take the load of my horses with the heavy duty trailer. That's right it can't.
so no new explorer for me!
Mark 07/19/2010
Don't say "nobody". Here in the southwest, we use Explorers to access rugged mountain service roads, where 4x4 is required, and AWD will not cut it, due to no low range available.
Dustin Munro 07/14/2010
Check out "Ford Expands Lincoln Lineup; Mercury Production Ends in Fourth Quarter of 2010"
June 2, 2010 and the "Classic Thunderbirds Return to Dearborn"
June 21, 2010 to see the comments I posted in response to those articles.
ron 07/14/2010
i took a ford explorer, (the call it the 'everest'out here) for a test last week. i liked it except for one quite important item, the brakes. i found them very soft and squishy. disappointing.
Christopher 07/12/2010
You guys should really check out the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee to see how to build a real 21st century SUV. The Explorer was the top dog in the segment. That is soon to change.
Christopher 07/08/2010
Front-Wheel-Drive is not “required” for anything. Why would anyone even say that? It makes no sense. I have never been able to understand the automotive industry’s fascination with this overcomplicated, fragile, temperamental, inefficient, difficult to maintain, expensive to repair, poor handling drivetrain. In the SUV segment, RWD makes much more sense. Contrary to popular belief, SUV’s are occasionally used for more than just getting the groceries. I’ve taken my Explorer to places no puny little FWD imitation SUV would dare venture. As far as mud/snow traction, FWD is simply a crutch for people who don’t know how to drive a real RWD vehicle in less than ideal conditions. Thankfully, I don’t fall into that category. Although I prefer my SUV’s of the body-on-frame flavor, I really don’t have a problem with a unibody structure. As long as it is attached to a REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE drivetrain. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been a RWD unibody SUV for years. And the new-for-2011 model continues that design and adds fully independent front and rear suspensions and a Hemi V-8 option. The new poor excuse for a FWD Explorer won’t be able to compete with that. The Australian Ford Territory is a unibody, REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE SUV based on the Falcon platform. It’s powered by a DOHC, 300hp(+/-) 4.0L Inline-Six engine with an optional turbocharged version of the same engine making about 400hp. That would have been a worthy successor to the Explorer in my opinion. I have a feeling that Ford has seriously dropped the ball on this one. And the soon-to-be-out of production Explorer will be the result. As for the Raptor, I love it. But I can’t afford one.
Christopher 07/08/2010
The new RWD, Unibody, V-6 and V-8 powered 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is gonna kick that puny little FWD Explorer's butt!!!
Christopher 07/08/2010
I'm sorry, but I have to call major BS on this. There is no possible way that a FWD unibody imitation SUV could have the same seating position as a true Explorer. Unless you deliberately put the front seats on pedestals or jacked up the suspension to raise the whole vehicle, a unibody SUV will not have the same seating height as a body-on-frame SUV.
Christopher 07/07/2010
Please just let the Explorer die with dignity. Let it go out on top as a true RWD/4WD SUV with at least the option of a V-8 engine instead of slapping the name on this puny little FWD joke. The Explorer deserves better than this.
Christopher 07/04/2010
I must agree with this. The Explorer has always been REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE. If Ford had the intention of changing the platform to an inferior FWD layout, they should have changed the name. The versatile, rugged, RWD/4WD Explorer should be allowed to die with dignity instead of having its name slapped onto an inferior, subpar imitation SUV that doesn't deserve to wear it.
Dustin Munro 07/03/2010
Ford is making a mistake by putting a rear drive badge-EXPLORER on a front drive vehicle.They should put a Front drive badge on it the same way they put a front drive badge on the front drive Mustang-The Ford Probe.A good front drive badge for the Front drive Explorer would be the Ford Oppertunity! Named after the highly successful solar powered Mars Rover oppertunity which has outlasted the nuclear powered Viking 1 and to date has driven over 13 miles on Mars.
edvard 07/02/2010
Let's be real for a minute. Nobody uses the Explorer to go offroading. They never have and they never will. They are just like all the other wannabe offroading SUVs sold like mad from the 80's through today- glorified grocery getters. To me it seems like a good idea to make the Explorer a unibody vehicle. It saves weight and actually provides for a more rigid structure. This in turn makes for a better ride and better fuel economy.

Secondly the trend in SUV consumer preference has been going towards crossovers for the past 5 years or so. Most of these are once removed car-based unibody vehicles. This new Explorer blends the best of both worlds. Ford is being smart with this design and if anything it'll revitalize the model and probably garner new customers.
James 07/01/2010
Referring to Christopher's rant, the type of "keeping it like it has always been" thinking is what got Detroit in the pickle it's in in the first place. As history starkly points out, failure to change and adapt leads to inevitable failure. Ford is doing that. They really have no choice. They are a volume manufacturer, not a niche player. The market for body-on-frame suv's is going the way of the dodo. Fwd is required to make a business case for the Explorer. All wheel drive will be available, so that will cover the vast majority of the possible market for this vehicle. Unfortunately for folks like Christopher who like their suv's of the body-on-frame flavor, their numbers are simply not sufficient to support continuation of what is frankly outdated technology for a mass-market vehicle. Hey Chris, you should be happy. Look at the Raptor. That is right up your alley, and if you put a camper top on it, you would have at least a decent facsimile of your current, and beloved, Explorer. I feel your disappointment with inevitable change, but time, and everything else, moves on. Good luck to Ford. i can't wait for the official reveal.
Christopher 07/01/2010
I respect Ford's attempts to keep up with current technology. But I'll keep my rugged, body-on-frame, REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE Explorers, thank you. I hate FWD with a passion. I find myself filled with rage when I open a hood and see an engine mounted sideways. I hoped I would never have to endure that when looking at an Explorer. But alas, I will. I'm sorry, but I have a feeling that this new Explorer may not be the rousing success you hoped it would be. I see current Explorer owners shunning it as a subpar vehicle when compared to the current, true-SUV Explorer it is bound to replace. Sissy boys and soccer moms will probably flock to it in droves, but real men will continue to drive our RWD/4WD Explorers until their wheels fall off. Then we'll get another RWD/4WD Explorer as long as there are still used ones to buy. Or maybe when I win the lottery, I'll just go to Australia and pick up a REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE FPV Terrirory with the turbo inline-six and run your FWD Imitation Explorer into the mud with it.
Jay Ward 07/01/2010

You are of course entitled to your opinion, but the simple facts do not back your position. Sales of traditional body on frame mid-size SUV's have plummeted over the last 5 years or so to such an extent that almost no one is considering them at all. The Pathfinder soon moves to unibody, the Durango has gone and Toyota is selling very few 4Runners, especially when you compare to Highlander.
Instead, what has happened? Customers have migrated (in their millions) to unibody utility vehicles. It would therefore have been rather strange (understatement) for us to ignore this trend and come to market with a 20th century SUV.
Instead, we are coming to market with the finest 21st century SUV possible. With fuel economy that gives people a reason to buy, not reject Explorer. World first safety innovations. Industry-leading technology and best in class quality.
Cearly, we cannot keep everyone happy, but we can do what Ford has always done best - innovate! We defined the SUV segment back in 1990. We are going to do the same 20 years later.
Kind regards,
Jay Ward 07/01/2010

Just to let you know that the new Explorer will feature the same Command Driving position that you get in the current vehicle - it is what people love about the SUV.

Kind regards,

Christopher 06/30/2010
No. There will not be a Sport Trac. The "new" Explorer will be nothing more than a re-bodied Flex, a poor excuse for a shadow of its former self. A generic FWD imitation SUV that blends in with all the other FWD quasi-SUV's on the market. No longer is the Explorer the benchmark by which all other mid-sized SUV's were judged. If this was Ford's plan, I wish they had simply put the Explorer out of its misery and allowed it to die a dignified death and called this abomination something different instead of forever soiling the Explorer name.
Christopher 06/30/2010
Oh no. I din't think Ford could do something this stupid. They might as well put the Explorer out of its misery now because it won't last much longer as a watered down FWD imitation SUV. Ford practically invented the midsize SUV segment with the Explorer back in '91 and as far as I can remember, the Explorer has been the best selling SUV in the USA. So now Ford decides to switch the wonderful RWD/.4WD, body-on-frame, V-6/V-8 powered Explorer to a cheesy little unibody FWD V-6 powered piece of crap? What are they thinking? I own two Explorers, both 1994 models. One is a 4-door 4X4 automatic, the other a 2WD 2-door 5-speed. And I love them both. I wish I could afford a new one with the 296hp 4.6L SOHC V-8, 5-speed auto, and 4x4. But I can't. Now, after 2010, nobody will ever get the chance to own a new "real" Explorer ever again. If you want to get a true midsize SUV, you'll have to go to Dodge, Toyota or Nissan for a Durango, 4-Runner or a Pathfinder (I'm not sure if GM still makes the Trailblazer or Envoy anymore). I can't understand why Ford would do this. If the Explorer was on its death bed, why not just let it die with dignity? At least it would have gone out on top. Now, when this puny little FWD excuse for an imitation Explorer crashes and burns, the once great Explorer name will be tarnished forever. It's no wonder Ford kept this thing under wraps for so long. The Explorer faithful would have had a total meltdown and probably sent hate mail to Ford like Mustang lovers did in the late 1980's when Ford almost made the Probe the replacement for the Mustang. I feel sorry for the poor Explorer. It's about to join the ranks of such monumental failures as the Taurus-X and Freestyle. Shame on you Ford. I'm very disappointed.

The prorper course of action would have been to import the REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE Ford Territory from Australia as the Explorer replacement. It may be a unibody, but at least its REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE!!!!!!!!!
Al Meyers 06/28/2010
I have more of a question than a comment. With the new Explorer is Ford going to keep the Sport Trac? To me that is the best of both worlds. I have owned big lincolns, Mercury & Fords. This is the best Ford I have owned. On long trips you don't feel tired.
John Wagner 06/28/2010
This vehicle has the potential to have a great effect on American manufacturing. I believe in Alan Mulally, and I believe in Ford Motor Company again. Like most people I can only afford to replace my family car every 10-12 years. My dealer is going to call me as soon as the Explorer ordering guide is available -- we are going for it.

As the last remaining American automobile manufacturer please, please don't disappoint us!
Schmeltz 06/28/2010
I've read that the current Explorer built in Kentucky has/had an impressive 90% U.S. manufacturered content. I was wondering since the new Explorer is to move to the Chicago plant, if the U.S. content will decrease, and if so, by how much?
Linda 06/26/2010
I'm hoping the new Explorer is not lower - and I mean where I sit in the driver's seat - than our present 2004. We love many things out our past (1997) & present Explorers, but if the driver's seat is closer to the ground I won't buy it - we also have a smaller 2008 crossover/SUV and it sits at home, I prefer the Explorer. Our 2004 is the perfect size, not too wide to get around bikes, fits in out garage and most of all sits higher than most mid-size SUV's. My fingers are crossed, but I fear the lighter vehicle will need a lower centre of gravity and so we'll be shopping for something else if that's the case. We already to plan to buy look at the 2011 and if is not what I want, we'll get a 2010 as new as possible to delay making a switch! I'm really hpoing it's still a macho rig - but I think there's a reason we're getting a lot of superficial info with no real numbers to compare.
Mike PHX 06/25/2010
I have to admit, that when I first heard Ford was moving the Explorer to a uni body frame, I thought it was the end of the Explorer, and the return of the Freestyle/Taurus X. I believe this will be an awesome transition into what will probably be the future for midsize SUV's. I should have known Ford would never take a household name like Explorer and put it on a half a** vehicle. Should be a pretty sweet ride! We'll see!
florence baker 06/25/2010
Great presentation,Julie!
All-new Ford Explorer Gets a Workout
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