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Ford showcased a new concept at the 2008 Detroit auto show in January called the Explorer America Concept.
Rather than typical body-on-frame SUV construction, the vehicle features a crossover-style unibody design.
Despite its underpinnings, the Explorer America Concept has an agressive truck-like appearance. The concept has seating for six, although a production version of this vehicle would probably have room for seven. Ford says the crossover has "moderate" towing and off-roading capabilities.
While it's not known if the concept directly foreshadows the next-generation Explorer, the vehicle appears to match rumors about the Explorer's future. According to insiders, Ford revealed plans to replace the truck-framed Explorer with a unibody crossover during a private exhibition in December 2006.
If rumors are true, a production Explorer crossover will arrive in one or two years.
The Explorer America Concept might also provide the first glimpse at Ford's all-new global design language. Ford is widely expected to scrap its U.S.-specific "Bold American" and Europe-oriented "Kinetic" design languages in favor of an all-new look for its global range in the coming years.
Ford is also using the Explorer America Concept to showcase a number of fuel-saving technologies.
The powertrains have been tested in the concept, a 4-cylinder 2 liter engine with EcoBoost technology delivering 275 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque or, as a premium engine, a 3.5 liter V-6 delivering about 340 hp.
Most of the focus will be on the EcoBoost motor, which is new to the Ford engine family. The powerplant aims to do more with less, thanks to direct injection, smaller engine blocks, turbocharging. Ford says the EcoBoost engine delivers 20 better fuel economy, 15 percent less CO2 emissions, and improved performance.
Combined with a lighter body and more efficient mechanical design, the Explorer America Concept promises an overall fuel consumption improvement of 20 to 30 percent, compared with today's V6 Explorer.
Fuel-saving electric power assisted steering (EPAS) and other engine actions that deliver a fuel savings benefit of about 5 percent. Between 80 to 90 percent of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles will have EPAS by 2012.
(source: Left Lane)
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