2011 Ford Explorer: A New Beginning

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As you may recall, the previous generation Ford Explorer was a bit of a dinosaur. It wasn't slow nor was it fast. It was, however, a symbol from an era of cheap gasoline before anyone knew Al Gore would venture into documentary filmmaking with "An Inconvenient Truth." The old body-on-frame Explorer is a thing of the past (much like Al Gore's marriage) as the all-new 2011 Explorer finally makes its grand debut. It couldn't have come at a better time.

First things first, the new model is now a crossover based on, of all things, the Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans. However, the vast majority of Explorer buyers don't need hard-core off-roading. It comes with a standard 3.5 liter V6 with 290 hp. The big news, however, is the optional direct injected turbocharged EcoBoost 2.0 liter I-4 engine that it will produce significantly improved fuel economy over the V6 while delivering similar power. Transmission choices are a six-speed automatic or a SelectShift automatic on XLT and Limited trims.

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What you won't see any more are the optional V8 and 7,115 pound towing capacity. In their place are a host of standard and optional features such as MyFord Touch (touch screen nav/infotainment system), Sync, and high quality interior materials. As far as off-roading, Ford developed in-house a new Terrain Management System and Hill-Descent Control. There are various settings such as Snow and Sand that will allow drivers to adapt the vehicle to a range of road conditions. Safety is a top priority with AdvanceTrak with Roll Stability Control, Trailer Sway Mitigation, and Curve Control.

There's also an optional collision warning with brake support and a Blind-Spot Information System. With more than enough airbags to inflate a blimp, there's also optional inflatable rear seatbelts that improves safety of kids in booster seats, providing head and neck protection. However one may feel about the new Explorer going from a SUV to a CUV that's more family friendly, is entirely their opinion. In the case of the new 2011 Explorer, change is a good thing done right.

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