Posts Tagged ‘2011 ford explorer review’

First Drive: 2011 Dodge Durango

Return of the “man van.”

by on Jan.03, 2011

A first look at the 2011 Dodge Durango.

Conventional wisdom would have it that Chrysler is in a holding pattern this year, awaiting some of the big new product launches promised as part of its new affiliation with Italy’s Fiat.  But, yet again, conventional wisdom would be wrong.

True, some of the most important launches are yet to come, but the troubled U.S. maker is turning out a significant assortment of all-new and updated models for 2011, including eight under the Chrysler and Dodge brand names.  That includes an all-new version of the Dodge Durango, which the maker is billing as “the return of the man van.”

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There was reason to be skeptical, of course, as we headed to California for a first ride in the 2011 Dodge Durango.  Chrysler has a history of wrapping the same basic product under a variety of different wrappers, and one could only wonder whether the ’11 Dodge SUV would be little more than a warmed-over version of the new, 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee remake.

To our surprise – and satisfaction – what we discovered when we got a first close-up look at the 2011 Dodge Durango was a crossover/ute with a decidedly distinct appearance, both inside and out, and on-road manners that are notably different from those of the Grand Cherokee.


First Drive: 2011 Ford Explorer


by on Dec.13, 2010

The 2011 Ford Explorer aims to throw sand in the face of its competition.

Few products have dominated the market like the original Ford Explorer.  It was the poster child for the light truck boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, as millions of Americans traded in their sedans, coupes, wagons — and later, their minivans — for sport-utility vehicles and pickups.

At its peak, the Explorer was racking up sales of as much as 445,000 a year, making it a single nameplate franchise bigger than brands like Subaru, Mazda and virtually every one of the German marques.  But for Ford, the good times couldn’t last.  And whether it was due to the Firestone/Explorer rollover debacle or simply shifting trends – as crossovers began to overtake classic SUVs – Explorer sales took a sharp tumble soon after the start of the new millennium.

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Through the end of November, Ford has sold just 51,000 copies of the outgoing Explorer.  But the maker is far from ready to write the old workhorse off.  Anything but.  The 2011 model is getting ready to roll into showrooms and it justifies the term “all-new” better than most launches we’ve seen in recent years.  It also offers the possibility that a new generation of buyers may soon discover the Explorer name – while past owners will be drawn to the showroom to check out what is arguably the best offering in its segment.


2011 Ford Explorer To Hit 25 MPG

EPA numbers show a 25% increase in mileage.

by on Dec.07, 2010

Bigger but lighter, the new Ford Explorer will get 25 mpg on the highway, according to new EPA testing.

The all-new Ford Explorer will get 25% better mileage than the outgoing SUV, according to new data released by the EPA, which oversees federal mileage testing.

Having switched from a truck-based platform to a car-like crossover design, the 2011 Explorer will get 17 miles per gallon in the city, 25 on the highway, with a combined rating of 20 mpg.  The old model got 14/20 in front-drive configuration, 13/19 with an all-wheel-drive powertrain.

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Fuel economy concerns were among the most significant of the “past reasons for turning away” from the Explorer and other SUVs, noted Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global director of vehicle development.

With its new 3.5-liter V6 powertrain replacing the old Explorer’s 4.6-liter V8, Ford will be able to claim segment leadership on fuel economy.  While the 2011 Toyota 4Runner matches Explorer in-town, it gets only 23 mpg on the highway.  The all-new, 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee also got an EPA rating of 23 highway, but just 16 in the city.

“Today’s customers want no trade-offs, which is why we focused on fuel economy leadership,” product development vice president Frank Davis said at an Explorer preview, this week.


First Look: 2011 Ford Explorer

Can once-dominant SUV regain lead in today’s crowded market?

by on Jul.26, 2010

A new day for Ford's once best-selling Explorer?

You normally don’t expect to see Ford CEO Alan Mulally wandering through New York’s crowded Herald Square in the middle of a Monday morning.  But this isn’t your typical weekday, not as far as Ford is concerned.  The automaker’s chief executive is in the Big Apple for the launch of the latest, all-new version of the Ford Explorer.

Once the best-selling sport-utility vehicle in the world, Explorer is today just a shadow of its former self, at least from a sales standpoint, so the unusual preview – which bypasses the normal auto show circuit in a bid to maximize exposure from media-central Manhattan – is a critical step in Ford’s effort to rebuild demand.

“This is the reinvention of the most popular SUV in the world,” Mulally declared during an appearance on CNBC this morning.  At least what was the top-selling SUV.

The original Explorer was one of the first to target the emerging market for light trucks, when it came to market two decades ago.  But today, U.S. buying patterns have shifted once again, and sales of traditional truck-based sport-utility vehicles have fallen sharply, millions of buyers instead opting for lighter, more nimble and fuel-efficient crossover vehicles.

With the 2011 Explorer, Ford becomes the latest maker to shift from a body-on-frame to car-based platform – a strategy used by Mercedes-Benz, among others, with the latest-generation M-Class ute.  But the Detroit maker is walking a marketing tightrope.  At today’s launch and in the marketing blitz to follow, Ford will continue to play up the 2011 Explorer’s go-anywhere capabilities while also emphasizing its more crossover-like attributes – notably its more nimble ride and handling and a projected 30% improvement in fuel economy.

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“It’s a vehicle completely redefined,” says Ford’s global product development director, Derrick Kuzak., with the goal of the redesign and shift to a CUV platform to address “past reasons for turning away” from both the SUV segment and Explorer, in particular.


2011 Ford Explorer to Get “Curve Control”

Automaker emphasizing safety as truck-based ute switches to crossover platform.

by on Jun.28, 2010

A prototype of the 2011 Ford Explorer. Expect significant changes by the time the production model is revealed this summer.

Ford Motor Co. will introduce what it is billing as the next level in automotive safety with the launch of the 2011 Explorer, a system the maker has dubbed “Curve Control.”

The technology is designed to go a step further than today’s electronic stability control, the maker says, allowing the vehicle to sense whether it is turning as much as the driver intends.

Curve Control is just one of a number of new systems debuting on what will be a very different vehicle than the classic Ford Explorer, a product that, two decades ago helped kick off the boom in sport-utility vehicle sales.

New Model Analysis!

Curve Control is a sort of analog to stability control, according to Ford.  That earlier system is designed to detect when a vehicle enters oversteer – counteracting what the average motorist would call a skid.  The new system helps correct understeer, phenomenon most makers actually design into their products.  That’s fine under most circumstances, but under aggressive driving or slick road conditions it can lead to a loss of control, with the vehicle sliding off the road.


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