Another news from Popular Mechanics
This time about Explorer
"The Explorer may be shifting to a more car-like, fuel-efficient platform in the future. How do we know? As you can see from these first-look photos of the Explorer America Concept that Ford will show on the Detroit stand about a week from now, there's a completely new configuration for that grand old nameplate.
The Explorer America is downsized with highly sculpted sheetmetal, but the important stuff here is underneath. For the first time, we're seeing an Explorer not built on a truck frame; there's unibody construction here, like with the Edge and Flex crossovers, and it rides much closer to the ground than the current production Explorer.
America’s bodyside has no traditional B-pillar, so that the front door interlocks with the sliding door to create a huge opening for ease of entry and use. Both bumpers are tucked in close to the body for minimal front and rear overhangs and the massive wheel arches give the concept a macho stance. The inner roof panel is glass from end to end providing a panoramic view from inside.
Behind the huge flat bar grille (last seen on the Super Chief pickup concept) is a new family of engines. Ford’s new EcoBoost gasoline turbocharged direction-injection (GTDi) engines are likely to be the powertrains in many of Ford’s future vehicles—including the next Explorer. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque may serve as the base engine with a 340 hp, 3.5-liter V-6 for performance fans. Ford says these potential powertrains in the United States could save between 20 and 30 percent in fuel economy over today’s engines. The Explorer America has gas-saving electric power steering, too, which will be on 90 percent of Ford vehicles by 2012.
The America, Ford says, combines the elements of a family sedan, a crossover SUV and a minivan, with a sliding side door on the passenger side for easy family ingress and egress, and a conventional hinged door on the driver side.
The flashy, three-row interior uses a cool, black-silver-and-green décor, with a squared-off steering wheel. Neat features include very slim, cantilevered bucket seats in the first and second rows, with a sliding feature on the second-row seats—an idea seen at least twice before in Ford concept cars. A picnic table and chairs are built into the vehicle, hidden under the tailgate.
There are more electronic goodies as well, led by an enormous green hemispherical navigation compass and topographical map riding at the top center of the dashboard. Of course, it carries Sync—Ford’s new electronic communications and music management system—but it also has a host of other electronic driving aids and entertainment systems on board. We’d be pleased if the next Explorer ended up looking a lot like this America concept. —Jim McCraw"
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