Reviewers liked the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer, and its Total Car Score at mid-pack reflects that. However, it is among the lowest scoring crossover (car-based) vehicles in the segment.
This year the Explorer finally shed its old body-on-frame construction for a contemporary unibody design, which resulted in better handling, a roomier cabin and a much more stylish look -- not to mention the 2011 North American Truck of the Year award.
Yet Ford didn’t completely turn its back on the Explorer’s all-terrain heritage and equipped it with an AWD system that can be tailored to suit varying road surfaces (mud, sand, and so on). Ford also entered new passenger safety territory with the debut of the Explorer’s inflatable rear seat belts. And the maker has thrown just about every electronic gadget in its arsenal at the Explorer, including SYNC, MyFord Touch and MyKey.
So how to explain the Explorer’s low score? A couple of the review sites seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude about the new CUV and ranked it much lower than others.
No longer a traditional body-on-frame SUV, the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer is now a unibody crossover vehicle available in three trim levels: base, XLT and Limited. Up to seven passengers can be accommodated in three rows of seats.
The Explorer is powered by an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine sending 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque to a six-speed automatic transmission. (Early press materials indicated the fuel-efficient 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine would be an option, but that availability was moved to the following model year.) Front- and all-wheel-drive configurations are available, the latter of which utilizes an electronic terrain management system rather than a conventional transfer case.
Base Explorers are equipped with MyFordDriver and MyKey technology, an AM/FM/CD audio system, cloth upholstery and 17-inch steel wheels. Upgrading to XLT models brings 18-inch aluminum wheels, satellite radio, SYNC and a reverse-sensing system; while the top Limited version has 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, automatic climate controls, premium sound system, remote and keyless start and power adjustable pedals.
Properly equipped, the 2011 Ford Explorer can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The EPA has rated FWD Explorers at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway; the AWD Explorers earned a nearly identical 17/23 rating.
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