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Posts Tagged ‘2011 ford explorer’

Crossover or SUV? It Doesn’t Matter Because New Explorer Impresses

by on Nov.02, 2011

Ford has remade its Explorer sport utility vehicle, giving it car bones, but also the tools to leave the roads behind.

So, what is the difference between a crossover and an SUV, anyway? In the past, auto writers tended to classify an SUV as one of the old-style body-on-frame bruisers. Real trucks, based on their makers’ pickup truck, capable of going off-road. They came standard with rear-wheel drive, with optional four-wheel drive, no, not all-wheel drive, we’re talking about a system where the 4WD is engaged either by a lever, or more recently with buttons or a knob.

Ford wants us to classify its redesigned Explorer as an SUV, not a crossover. If it’s a crossover you want, then Ford would like to sell you a Flex. But can this completely remade Explorer still claim to be an SUV? Based on the same Volvo bones that underpin the Lincoln MKT and MKS and the Ford Taurus and, yes, even the Flex crossover, base Explorers are now front-wheel drive riding on a unibody platform.

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Sure, much of this is just autowriter flimflam that matters little to the people who buy these rigs. When you boil it down to its essence, car buying revolves around three things: styling, capabilities and how it makes you feel. Oh, and we suppose the niggling issue of cost, and that whole price of ownership thing, has a little to do with it, as well.

So what about this Explorer’s capabilities? Not surprisingly, it handles better than the clunky old Explorer. The stiff unibody makes a big difference compared the old truck’s traditional frame.

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First Drive: 2011 Ford Explorer

Best-in-class?

by on Dec.13, 2010

The 2011 Ford Explorer aims to throw sand in the face of its competition.

Few products have dominated the market like the original Ford Explorer.  It was the poster child for the light truck boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s, as millions of Americans traded in their sedans, coupes, wagons — and later, their minivans — for sport-utility vehicles and pickups.

At its peak, the Explorer was racking up sales of as much as 445,000 a year, making it a single nameplate franchise bigger than brands like Subaru, Mazda and virtually every one of the German marques.  But for Ford, the good times couldn’t last.  And whether it was due to the Firestone/Explorer rollover debacle or simply shifting trends – as crossovers began to overtake classic SUVs – Explorer sales took a sharp tumble soon after the start of the new millennium.

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Through the end of November, Ford has sold just 51,000 copies of the outgoing Explorer.  But the maker is far from ready to write the old workhorse off.  Anything but.  The 2011 model is getting ready to roll into showrooms and it justifies the term “all-new” better than most launches we’ve seen in recent years.  It also offers the possibility that a new generation of buyers may soon discover the Explorer name – while past owners will be drawn to the showroom to check out what is arguably the best offering in its segment.

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Kia Planning Record Spending On Advertising

Ford also ramping up marketing efforts for big launch of new 2011 Explorer.

by on Dec.09, 2010

The writing's on the wall - and plenty of other places as Kia gets ready to launch the 2011 Optima.

Fast-growing Kia is planning to spend a record amount on advertising as it moves forward with plans to expand its market share.

The first phase of the campaign begins with the launch of the 2011 Kia Optima – and includes  the largest campaign in Kia Motors America’s history.  It will start this weekend with a made-for-cinema 60-second spot, which will run at movie theaters nationwide.  Titled “Sweet Dreams,” the ad is based on the premise that “nobody ever dreamt of driving a midsize sedan. . . until now.”

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“Consumers told us that traditional midsize sedan offerings were missing the excitement and fun found in other segments, but the Optima is the latest result of our design-led transformation,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA.  “It breaks from tradition by combining dynamic styling with powerful and fuel-efficient performance and has the high levels of quality and safety consumers have come to expect from Kia.”
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Ford Explorer Off To A Good Start

Strong initial demand could herald a return to the glory days.

by on Nov.29, 2010

Early orders suggest the 2011 Ford Explorer will come out of the blocks strong when it goes on sale early next year.

It spent years at the top of the SUV sales charts before crashing, ignominiously, in the wake of a safety scare.  But even before the completely redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer actually rolls into showrooms it’s showing strong signs of success.

With the new crossover-based version of the Explorer not set to roll into showrooms until early next year, Ford dealers have already booked 15,000 advance orders, twice what the maker was anticipating.  And buyers appear to be opting for heavily loaded versions of the SUV, which could make the next-generation Explorer a significant source of profits for the resurgent Ford.

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If the initial pace of orders holds steady it will serve as justification for the automaker’s risky decision to shift from a traditional, truck-based sport-utility vehicle to a car-like crossover.

Ford has been considering that strategy for some time but ultimately chose to stick with a body-on-frame design for the last Explorer.  It might not have made much of a difference in the wake of an unexpected crisis triggered by reports that earlier Explorers were suffering unexpected and catastrophic tire blow-outs that could cause the vehicles to roll over.  While sales initially held steady, demand for the Explorer eventually began to tank, and by 2009 volumes had plunged nearly 80%.

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Ford Betting On Safety Technology To Rebuild Explorer Brand

Maker emphasizing safety to expand definition of quality and reliability.

by on Oct.21, 2010

Ford is betting on safety advances to help rebuild demand for the once-dominant Explorer.

When Ford Motor Co. launches its complete redesign of the Explorer sport-utility vehicle for 2011, the maker will be aiming to rebuild a once-dominant franchise that has become little more than an also-ran in the huge multi-purpose vehicle market.

The new model shifts gears in a number of ways.  A critical part of the redesign was moving from a truck-based body-on-frame platform to a car-like chassis borrowed – and then heavily modified – from the Taurus sedan.  Ford will emphasize the best-of-all-worlds capabilities of the 2011 Explorer.

But it will put a particular premium on pitching the new crossover/SUV’s safety technology –notably including some key features making their worldwide debut on the 2011 Explorer.  That strategy, the company hopes, will help overcome a lingering bad taste in the market that was caused by the Firestone tire fiasco, nearly a decade ago, when wags dubbed the long-popular vehicle, the “Ford Exploder.”

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The 2011 Ford Explorer offers a wide array of the latest technology, from electronic stability control to cross-traffic alert, a radar-based system that can spot oncoming traffic when a motorist is backing out of a parking spot.  That technology underscores several trends in the overall car market, and at Ford in particular.

Cross-traffic alert first debuted on the re-make of the BMW 7-Series, two years ago, but was quickly added to the Ford Taurus.  Traditionally, technology advances were launched on high-line models, like BMW’s, and then it would take years to slowly migrate down to the mainstream market.  Ford has not only been pushing to shorten that cycle but to actually take the lead with technology that luxury makers will need to catch up on.

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Ford Plans Non-Traditional Launch for ’11 Explorer

Automaker will use mix of events, social media, TV – but skip the auto show circuit.

by on Jul.20, 2010

You'll have to wait until July 26 to see a complete pic of the 2011 Ford Explorer.

When Ford launches its all-new 2011 Explorer sport-utility vehicle, next week, it will stage a splashy unveiling in New York’s Herald Square and back it up with an aggressive marketing mix using social media and mainstream television.

But unlike the automaker’s traditional vehicle launches, Ford won’t be relying on the auto show circuit to give the totally-redesigned Explorer a boost, says the automaker’s global marketing chief, Jim Farley, and that could be the approach Ford takes with future products if the unusual roll-out of the new SUV proves effective.

“We will use social media to start a dialogue about the company,” and the new Explorer, said Farley, during a background briefing on the 2011 model.  Ford is estimating it will reach as many as 50 million American consumers with its marketing message on just the first day of Explorer’s launch, he added, “which would make it a bigger event than (possible at) the auto show.”

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The alternative approach for Explorer’s launch is modeled after what Ford sees as the successful introduction of the all-new Fiesta. The maker set the stage for the new subcompact with its viral marketing campaign, dubbed the Fiesta Movement, then followed with a more mainstream advertising program. Even there, Ford relied on an unusually creative approach, with ads that offered jugglers, parachutists and clowns, rather than the conventional image of a new car speeding down a quiet country road.

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Ford Announces Pricing for Upgraded 2011 Ford Edge and Edge Sport

A challenging year ahead for the top-selling CUV.

by on Jul.14, 2010

Ford's 2011 Edge Sport gets a more distinctive look for the coming model-year.

Ford today announced complete pricing for its improved and upgraded 2011 Ford Edge.  For openers, the pricing of the base SE and SEL models is down $200 versus current 2010 pricing.

The SE front-wheel-drive version will start at $27,995. The SEL FWD
version will start at $30,995.  The Limited FWD, the single most popular model of the Edge, will start at $34,995

The completely revised Edge Sport FWD will start at $36,995. Pricing of the Limited includes following new equipment: Sony audio with HD radio, MyFord Touch, rear view camera, 10-way power driver’s seat in lieu of 6-way, capless easy fuel, MyKey, select shift and 285-horsepower 3.5L Ti-VCT engine, now 20 horsepower stronger, with EPA ratings of 19 mpg city, 27 highway.

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Pricing of the Sport includes an array of new features, such as a 22-inch wheels, Sony audio with HD radio, MyFord Touch, rear view camera, 10-way power heated drivers seat in lieu of 6-way, heated memory seats and mirrors, 6-way power passenger seat, the 304-horsepower 3.7L Ti-VCT engine borrowed from the Mustang, and select shift with paddle shifters.

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2011 Ford Explorer to Get “Curve Control”

Automaker emphasizing safety as truck-based ute switches to crossover platform.

by on Jun.28, 2010

A prototype of the 2011 Ford Explorer. Expect significant changes by the time the production model is revealed this summer.

Ford Motor Co. will introduce what it is billing as the next level in automotive safety with the launch of the 2011 Explorer, a system the maker has dubbed “Curve Control.”

The technology is designed to go a step further than today’s electronic stability control, the maker says, allowing the vehicle to sense whether it is turning as much as the driver intends.

Curve Control is just one of a number of new systems debuting on what will be a very different vehicle than the classic Ford Explorer, a product that, two decades ago helped kick off the boom in sport-utility vehicle sales.

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Curve Control is a sort of analog to stability control, according to Ford.  That earlier system is designed to detect when a vehicle enters oversteer – counteracting what the average motorist would call a skid.  The new system helps correct understeer, phenomenon most makers actually design into their products.  That’s fine under most circumstances, but under aggressive driving or slick road conditions it can lead to a loss of control, with the vehicle sliding off the road.

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Ford Adding 1,200 Jobs at Chicago Plant

New, crossover-based Explorer will relocate to Taurus plant.

by on Jan.26, 2010

With the 2011 Ford Explorer, the long-popular SUV switches to a crossover-based design. Photo Courtesy Brenda Priddu & Co.

Following up on hints offered earlier in the month, Ford Motor Co. officials have announced they’ll be adding 1,200 new jobs at an assembly plant on the outskirts of Chicago.

Already building the latest version of the Taurus sedan, Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant will also begin producing the maker’s next-generation Explorer sport-utility vehicle, a move that will require a $400 million investment.  About half that money will go into the assembly plant and a nearby stamping facility.  The rest will go towards engineering and launch-related costs.

Long the most popular SUV on the U.S. market, with sales peaking at 445,000 annually, Ford has seen the Explorer slip sharply, in recent years, however.  The brand was clearly hurt by a problem with tire failures, early in the last decade, but it was also hammered by increased competition, poor gas mileage, harsh ride, questionable quality and a steady shift in consumer tastes away from conventional truck-based utes to car-based crossovers.  In 2009, Explorer sales slipped 35%, from year-earlier levels, to just 52,190.

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The “all-new” version of the SUV, which appears to be a repackaging of the Freestyle and then the Taurus X built in Chicago until last year, will go into production late this year. Explorer  will follow, rather than lead, in at least one key area.  The 2011 Ford Explorer will abandon its body-on-frame design and adopt a crossover design, sharing the same platform used for the latest version of Taurus.

(Ford isn’t the only automaker to make such a dramatic shift.  The original Mercedes-Benz M-Class was truck-based, but the latest version is a car-derived crossover.)

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Ford Launching World’s First Inflatable Belt

Debuting on new Explorer, but global roll-out to follow.

by on Nov.05, 2009

These child-sized crash dummies are wearing the new inflatable seatbelts Ford will introduce on the 2011 Explorer.

These child-sized crash dummies are wearing the new inflatable seatbelts Ford will introduce on the 2011 Explorer sport-utility vehicle.

What happens when you combine an airbag and a seatbelt?  Motorists will have the chance to find out, next year, when Ford Motor Co. launches the next-generation Explorer sport-utility vehicle, which will offer the world’s first inflatable seat belts.

The technology, which initially will be offered as an option on the 2011 SUV, will eventually roll out across Ford’s global product line-up, said the automaker’s director of safety, Sue Cischke.

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The inflatable belts “could help reduce head, neck and chest injuries,” explained Cischke, particularly among young children and the elderly, who are especially vulnerable to the impact forces of an automobile accident.

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