Introduced in 1990 as a 1991 model, Explorer featured generous interior space customers were looking for, and was engineered specifically for people seeking adventure for their families and a way to express their individuality. For a quarter century, Explorer has reigned as America’s best-selling SUV.
Ford Explorer is built in North America at Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as in Venezuela and Russia. It is sold in markets across the globe. Ford exported more than 56,000 Explorers from the United States last year and plans to export even more in 2015.
“Customers love Explorer, and they expect it to continue to lead the way in innovation, performance and fun,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer for the new Explorer. “That’s the challenge we embraced when we set out to build the best SUV in the world.”
More innovation equals greater performance, more fun
Even more smart technology – that’s what customers will get with the new Ford Explorer. It offers more technologies than previous models, features that enhance the driving experience. New technologies available for 2016 include:
- Front and rear cameras with washers: Both have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – a class-exclusive, segment-first feature
- Enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park assist, park-out assist and semi-automatic parallel parking: The system uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel parking and perpendicular parking maneuvers. Enhanced active park assist includes park-out assist to help a driver pull out of parallel parking spots. The system controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals, and shifts the vehicle into gear
- Smart-charging USB ports: Located in the front and rear of the vehicle are USB ports able to charge smart devices up to two times faster than conventional ports
- Hands-free liftgate: A customer need only kick his or her leg below the center of the rear bumper to open or close the liftgate
- Industry-exclusive Sony® Audio System: Explorer Platinum will be the first Ford vehicle to get an all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics™ and Clear Phase™
- Active Grille Shutters: Upper and lower fascia openings close at highway speeds to reduce drag. At low speeds, the shutters open to deliver airflow to cool the powertrain
- Air curtains: Standard air curtains create a high-pressure region of air that impacts the outer surface of the wheels and tires. The result is airflow held close to the vehicle body, minimizing drag
- Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support: Uses radar to detect moving vehicles directly ahead and changes the cruising speed if necessary
- Lane-keeping system: Automatically detects left- and right-hand road lane markings using the front camera system. A vibration in the steering wheel alerts the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of the intended lane. The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed
- Blind Spot Information System: BLIS® uses radar to trigger a warning when another motorist is in the driver’s blind spot
- Cross-traffic alert: Uses radar to help alert drivers to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space
- Auto high-beams: Using windshield-mounted cameras, the feature automatically switches between high-beam and low-beam settings when oncoming traffic is detected
- Inflatable rear safety belts: Introduced on 2011 Explorer as an industry-first feature, the belts deploy an airbag over the torso and shoulder of an outboard passenger to help distribute crash forces over up to five times more area than a traditional safety belt. Spreading forces over a larger area helps reduce pressure on a passenger’s chest, and helps control head and neck motion
New EcoBoost engine
Capability – that’s what customers will get even more of with the new Explorer, thanks to an available 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine rated at 280 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm on premium fuel. Compared to the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder it replaces, the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine delivers an additional 40 horsepower and 40 lb.-ft. of torque – an increase of 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost is available on the base, XLT and Limited series. With the new powerplant, highway passing time – from 55 mph to 75 mph – improves by 10 percent.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost benefits from technology that optimizes performance. It employs an active oil control system to optimize pressure when less fluid is needed. An active wastegate controls boost more precisely during light load operation to help save fuel. A higher compression ratio results in more efficient fuel combustion.
The 2.3-liter EcoBoost’s notable improvement in horsepower and torque comes with no significant reduction in fuel economy. The front-wheel-drive Explorer retains its EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 28 mpg highway, which is best-in-class. For the first time, customers choosing a four-cylinder Explorer can opt for four-wheel drive and trailer towing capability.
“The new Explorer isn’t giving up its reputation as a leader in highway fuel efficiency – which is especially key for customers who want a vehicle that is also a capable trail warrior,” said Groeneveld.
The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine for base, XLT and Limited models – with 290 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm – is paired with a six-speed SelectShift® Automatic transmission. Explorer Sport and the Platinum edition get a standard 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 making 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm – also mated with the six-speed SelectShift.
“Bringing Explorer Platinum to market is a natural extension of the Explorer lineup – giving our customers even more of what they want,” said Matt Zuehlk, Ford Explorer brand manager. “There’s a market for more upscale SUVs, as 90 percent of Explorer Sport buyers purchase the most expensive package available. That’s a strong signal customers are ready for Platinum.”
From new multi-contour front seats wrapped in Nirvana leather with micro-perforation, to special quilted stitching used throughout, advanced standard technologies and the powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, Platinum elevates Explorer in ways customers can see and feel.
“Platinum is the ultimate expression of refinement,” said Mike Arbaugh, Ford Explorer chief designer. “This is the most upscale, high-quality interior we’ve ever offered on a Ford vehicle in North America.”
The interior employs the finest materials, including real aluminum and real ash wood multi-piece appliqués on door panels and instrument panel. A wood and leather-wrapped heated steering wheel showcases unique stitching that matches the stitching used throughout the interior.
For the first time in a Ford production vehicle, a brushed-aluminum Ford oval is centered on the steering wheel. Even the A-pillars are fabric-wrapped; every detail has been considered for the Platinum customer.
Nirvana leather also wraps the instrument panel, console armrests, quilted door bolsters and upper door trim. The instrument cluster features a large 10-inch digital display supported with analog displays – a first for a Ford-brand vehicle.
The all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System for Explorer Platinum features Live Acoustics technology that re-creates the sound dynamics of some of the world’s greatest concert halls for more enveloping, more realistic sound. Clear Phase eliminates sound dispersion throughout the vehicle, so the music occupants hear is precisely pinpointed – just as the artist intended.
Explorer Platinum also gets standard advanced technology features including enhanced active park assist, lane-keeping system and rain-sensing wipers.
For the exterior, signature lighting surrounds the LED headlamps, giving the vehicle a continuous glow. Other features include a standard dual-panel moonroof, premium silver-painted front and rear skid plate elements, and 20-inch wheels with bright machined face and tarnished dark-painted pockets.
The integrated exhaust is designed to reduce the appearance of soot collecting at the rear of the vehicle. Inside the chrome bezel of the exhaust, engineers designed a shield that catches the soot so it doesn’t collect around the outlets.
Intelligent four-wheel drive: Ready for any adventure
Explorer’s intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™ reassesses conditions about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye – providing precise handling and traction.
Intelligent four-wheel drive continuously monitors wheel speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle to determine vehicle conditions and driver intent. The system then determines the optimal amount of front and rear torque for the given conditions to prevent slip from even occurring, which helps keep the vehicle sure-footed on virtually any terrain. In sand, grass or gravel mode, the antilock braking system changes its pulse rate, which allows material to build up in front of the wheels, acting as a doorstop of sorts to help slow momentum.
To help maintain efficiency, in most steady-state cruising conditions the new Explorer equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive seamlessly and quickly transfers torque between the front and rear wheels.
A newly refined, intelligent four-wheel-drive gauge display shows power being distributed to front and rear wheels under all conditions – from heavy four-wheel-drive system usage to when the system is not transmitting power at all.
For added convenience, the Terrain Management System automatically defaults to normal mode whenever the vehicle is started to ensure it’s ready for normal driving conditions.
Using a dial located on the center console, the customer can shift on the fly, selecting from four terrain management modes – normal, snow, sand or mud – to set how the engine, transmission, brakes and four-wheel-drive system will operate. A fifth setting is for navigating hills.
Comfortable and capable
The new Explorer benefits from an improved suspension for better handling and a quiet cabin, enabling a comfortable ride even when the pavement turns to dirt.
Ford completely retuned the Explorer chassis to clearly differentiate the driving experiences offered by the XLT, Sport and Platinum models.
The suspension uses MacPherson construction with an isolated subframe and 32-millimeter stabilizer bar at the front, while an independent multilink rear setup uses a 22-millimeter stabilizer bar.
Explorer Sport customers looking for a more dynamic driving experience will benefit from unique steering gear, front and rear springs, struts and rear dampers.
Explorer also features a tower brace that provides additional stiffness between strut towers. The tower brace for Explorer equipped with four-wheel drive is three millimeters thicker for even more stiffness – providing better control and a smoother ride on rugged terrain.
The new Explorer, with standard 18-inch and available 20-inch wheels, offers new tire options for improved ride and handling while still reducing road noise in the cabin.
Interior changes help enhance quietness in the cabin. There are new door seals, and an enhanced sound package includes engine subframe mounts specially tuned to reduce vibration, as well as a specially tuned exhaust for the 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Acoustic glass is used on the windshield and front doors on XLT and higher trim levels.
Rugged – that’s the word that inspired the designers creating the look of the new Ford Explorer.
Exterior styling updates – such as positioning the grille and LED headlamps even higher, adding a new closed-off lower roof rack with channels that cascade rainwater off the vehicle and a new rear spoiler – also improve aerodynamics.
The 2016 Explorer features more robust headlamps, with available LED signature lighting, standard LED low-beams and available LED fog lamps.
Visible heat-sink structures for cooling the LED headlamps are a meaningful detail. These radiator-like grilles are typically hidden behind the light cluster, but on Explorer they are part of a complex headlamp design that puts innovation on display.
Interior design changes reflect desires customers expressed through Ford consumer research, which shows one in five Explorer Sport customers previously owned a luxury vehicle. Changes include a higher-mounted, wrapped and stitched door armrest, real buttons to replace touch-sense buttons on the infotainment system and more refined detailing throughout.
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