2011 Ford Explorer LTD Review and Road Test By Larry Nutson +VIDEO
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel
Ford boldly stated, "Ford Explorer, the vehicle that defined a segment, has been completely reinvented for 2011 to raise the bar on SUV efficiency, performance, safety, technology and capability." That's what Ford said they did. And in my opinion, that's what they did indeed do!
Watch the complete walk-around of the 2011 Ford Explorer with Ford's President of the Americas
My interest in driving the all-new Explorer was two fold. I wanted to see how well it fit in to the city environs of Chicago or for that matter any of the other 50 or so large cities in our United States. And also, I’ve had a string of personal-use Ford SUVs, most recently in 2009 an ’07 Edge. Prior to the Edge, an ‘04 and an ‘02 Explorer, and a little bit further back an Expedition. So I’m well-versed in Ford SUVs.
Coincidentally, the new Explorer is assembled in Chicago since the shift to unibody construction facilitated it being built alongside the Ford Flex and Taurus models.
Ford did a really nice job of packing the Explorer chock-full with new technology, equipment and features. So much so that to really understand how it all works requires that you sit in the vehicle with the owners manual in hand and just go through it all little by little. Most operations are very intuitive but some things require more concentration.
To this point, I believe, generally speaking for all car company’s products, new vehicles have become so sophisticated that upon taking delivery or perhaps within a couple weeks after, a dealer tutorial session is appropriate to make sure a new owner understands how everything works and is receiving maximum satisfaction and enjoyment from their new car.
A new feature on Explorer 4WD models is a terrain management system. The traditional transfer case has been deep-sixed. Rather than the use of four-high, four-low and auto settings, Explorer terrain management is selectable by situation. The four settings – available by shift-on-the-fly – include normal, mud, sand and snow. Each setting provides unique engine behavior, throttle tip-in, transmission shift scheduling and calibrations for traction and stability control systems. Terrain management also includes Hill Descent Control, which provides engine braking to increase driver confidence and control when descending a steep incline.
In addition, EPAS enables the optional active park assist technology. When activated, the system scans for a suitable spot, calculates the trajectory, and steers the vehicle. The driver continues to control brake and throttle inputs, but the system steers the vehicle throughout the parking maneuver. I tried this, listening to the voice prompts, and it works.
For 2012 model year the Explorer gets an expanded color palette and is the first Ford model in North America to offer an all-new Ford EcoBoost 2.0L, 240 HP four-cylinder engine. Available in front wheel drive, EPA estimates are 20 city mpg and 28 highway mpg. We hope to drive an Explorer with this engine very soon and provide out review.
Warranty coverage is 3 year/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain and 5 year/60,000 mile roadside assist. Ford dealers abound across the U.S., therefore the ownership experience should be very convenient. In choosing a new vehicle all to often not enough emphasis is given to the convenience of getting needed service.
Ford Explorer: Better than ever.
© Larry Nutson