Make us your home page
Instagram
Auto | 2011 Ford Explorer

2011 Ford Explorer gets an extensive — and impressive — makeover

The new Explorer has lots of innovations and sits atop a car platform for a smoother, quieter ride and better fuel efficiency.

Associated Press

The new Explorer has lots of innovations and sits atop a car platform for a smoother, quieter ride and better fuel efficiency.

DETROIT — Soon you'll start to hear more about the 2011 Ford Explorer, the brand's most-recognized nameplate after the F-150 and Mustang. Ford hopes to restore the vehicle's luster in the eyes of fickle SUV buyers who once adored the vehicle.

The SUV's remake reflects Ford's enthusiasm for technological innovation, which seems laudable, especially when you see how much the Explorer has changed.

Ford unveiled its impressive new SUV to the media this summer in Dearborn, Mich.

It looks like a Ford truck viewed through the prism of Land Rover, as the automaker has equipped Explorers with a terrain-management system first developed for the British luxury brand. The system allows drivers to select one of four modes while driving: normal, mud, sand or snow. The vehicle then adjusts engine behavior, throttle response, transmission shifts, traction and stability control.

Despite that, the new Explorer isn't a hard-core boulder basher. While it has been designed for off-road use, the 2011 model is built on a car platform, which Ford says results in a smoother, quieter ride and improved fuel economy.

To improve its suburban credentials, the company swapped its optional engine, a gas-hungry V-8, for a fuel-sipping four-cylinder that returns the same mileage and power as a V-6-powered Toyota Camry.

SUV purists will cry foul, but Ford insists that Explorer drivers are more likely to use four-wheel drive in inclement weather than for occasional camping trips. In other words, crossing culverts may be important to buyers, but getting home safely is more so.

While car magazines make distinctions between SUVs that ride on truck platforms (ideal for off-roading) and those that ride on car platforms (ideal for commuting), Ford says most buyers don't. Thus, even though the Honda Pilot rides atop the Odyssey minivan platform, most consumers consider it an SUV.

So Ford has added safety technology such as Curve Control, which corrects understeer — or resistance to turning — in corners. Other new features are ones found on other Ford vehicles: blind-spot detection and cross-traffic alert — both of which spot cars before you do — and crash control, which alerts you if you're not braking quickly enough and takes pre-emptive action if you don't. There's even parking assist to parallel park for you.

Like other automakers, Ford is introducing new electronic features that increasingly take decisions out of drivers' hands, usually in the name of safety.

And who doesn't want to feel safer?

But with each innovation, with each byte taken out of a driver's control, we come closer to a car that drives itself. One Ford official admitted that the company has the ability to build a car that drives itself but that buyers aren't ready to accept one. So Ford is introducing features one at a time.

Gulp.

While I applaud safety innovation, please, leave the driving to me.

Larry Printz is automotive editor at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va.

2011 Ford Explorer gets an extensive — and impressive — makeover 08/24/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 6:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Virginian-Pilot.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  2. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy

    Retail

    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose to look for a dead man.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. Owners to level Port Richey flea market but may rebuild

    Public Safety

    PORT RICHEY — The owners of the recently shuttered USA Flea Market have agreed to demolish all structures on the property, leaving open the possibility of rebuilding the weekend shopping attraction, according to Pasco County officials.

    Pasco County officials shut down the USA Flea Market after it received hundreds of citations for health and code violations.
  5. Kimmins Protégé-Mentor Program a crash course on business know-how

    Business

    TAMPA

    Williams Landscape Management Company was founded 30 years ago with one employee.

    Marisela Linares and Jorge Castro listen to speakers during a workshop at the Kimmins Contracting Corporation on Wednesday, June 7, 2017.   Kimmins Contracting Corporation is handling road construction projects Jeff Vinik's company as he remakes the Channel District. To do some outreach, the company is partnering with three minority contractors, but it's a unique partnership with Kimmins not only giving them the opportunity, but taking them through a series of workshops. It's essentially providing training to the subcontractors so they will be in position to get other contracts.