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Ford redesigns 'world's most popular SUV'

Ford has unveiled a completely new version of the Explorer SUV, a model that helped fuel th...

Posted: Jan 10, 2019 9:10 AM
Updated: Jan 10, 2019 9:10 AM

Ford has unveiled a completely new version of the Explorer SUV, a model that helped fuel the SUV craze when it was first introduced in the 1990s. It's still one of the company's most popular products and will be even more important to Ford now that the automaker has announced it is dropping nearly all car models from its North American lineup in favor of SUVs, crossovers and trucks.

Almost 8 million Explorers have been sold and Ford bills it as the "best-selling SUV of all time." A famous rollover-related recall scandal in the early 2000s — fatal crashes, blamed on faulty Firestone tires, led to more stringent recall regulations — did little to dampen enthusiasm for the model over the long term. The Explorer is now entering its sixth generation.

Part of the Explorer's success is that it appeals to an amazingly broad swath of customers covering a wide range of ages and social classes. Shoppers can choose from a base model Explorer for a little over $30,000 or add options to a top-of-the-line Ford Explorer Platinum, creating what is essentially a luxury SUV with a price tag well over $60,000. Prices for the new Explorer will be only about $400 higher, Ford has said.

At a glance, the new Explorer might not look that different from the one you see on the streets now, but it's actually a completely different vehicle. Most noticeable is a sleeker body style with a more sloped roofline, a design that, Ford executives say, was inspired by yachts.

"The Explorer has been really successful for us and so we didn't want to change the experience dramatically, but we did want to update it, we wanted to modernize it, we wanted to change the presence," said Cristina Aquino, Ford's large utility marketing manager.

The Explorer you can buy today is based on front-wheel-drive engineering that it shares with the Ford Taurus. The new Explorer returns to rear-wheel-drive engineering as was once traditional for SUVs. The Explorer is still available with all-wheel-drive, of course, but now more of the power goes to the rear wheels, which is better for towing.

This new Explorer will also be better off-road than the current model, according to Ford. The front wheels are closer to the front bumper, which improves climbing ability and it's also almost an inch higher off the ground.

The SUV's "Terrain Management System," which can be set using a knob in the center console area, has up to seven different modes including deep snow and sand, slippery, sport and an "eco" mode for fuel-efficient driving. The different modes change how power is delivered to the wheels among other things.

A 10-inch touchscreen is available as an option. It's mounted vertically and sticks up from the center of the dashboard. This design makes it look like a separate piece clipped to the dashboard but it keeps the screen up near eye level. A more typical 8-inch screen mounted sideways is standard. Ford made both designs available, Aquino said, because less tech-savvy buyers might not be comfortable with something resembling an iPad being so prominent in their vehicle.

Also available is a new active parking system that, like technology in Tesla models and some other luxury cars, can park the vehicle entirely on its own. Sensors scan for a space and, once one is found, the driver needs only to put the SUV in reverse, then hold a finger down on a button and the Explorer will park itself handling the brakes, accelerator and steering on its own. The system works for both parallel and back-in spaces.

Among the available engine options are a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 in higher-end models. There will also be a hybrid Explorer for the first time. The new Explorer will be built in Chicago and is expected to go on sale this summer.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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