Spied Up Dste: 2011 Ford Explorer


Ford fans have been waiting a long time for an update to the storied Explorer SUV, and it's finally expected to arrive by the end of this year. Until then, the Blue Oval is running prototypes all over Michigan to iron out every last ripple before the big debut, and our friends at Automobile caught one in the wild.

Don't take the looks of this prototype as gospel. In an effort to hide from prying eyes, Ford has trussed up the Explorer with parts from other models. What it does indicate is what lies beneath the skin. In a large break from tradition, the Explorer will abandon its long-running body-on-frame construction in favor of a unibody structure. Reports suggest the new rig will ride on Ford's D4 architecture, which underpins the likes of the Ford Flex and Taurus X (parts of both appear on this mule), and is similar to the D3 platform used in both the Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans.

If you want a good look at the new Explorer's exterior form, we suggest you take a look at the Explorer America concept from the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. Like the show car, the new Explorer will also make use of a turbocharged engine -- in this case, the new 2.0-liter "EcoBoost" turbo four-cylinder introduced earlier this year with the 2012 Focus. The engine will be mated with a six-speed transmission (possibly Ford's new dual-clutch gearbox), and will reportedly yield a 25-percent improvement in fuel economy.

Thanks to a $180 million expansion, Ford will produce the new Explorer in its assembly plant outside Chicago, Illinois, that also builds the Taurus and MKS. Expect more details on the SUV to emerge later this year.

Thanks to: Motor Trend


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