TTAC Photochop: Ford Explorer
After four generations of on and off-road (more or less deliberate) adventures, Ford’s Explorer is trading in his body-on-frame for a lighter, greener, on-road-friendly unibody. Carfood is scarce these days, everybody has to go on a diet and count those octanes like calories. Ford has already shown their intent into this direction with the Explorer America Concept at the last NAIAS. All the opulence is gone, no more chrome, no more huge-ego. Big cars will need to be discrete. For moderately priced family cars, huge engines are no longer something to extol. If you really need one, than you’d better keep quiet about it. Aluminum, naturally perceived as being light (or the “genuine aluminum-plated plastic”) will kick in for decoration. Simple robust lines will make the fifth Explorer look rugged, even if it will not be as tough as it used to be. My other changes to the concept were the usual: bigger windows, real mirrors and door handles, proper air intakes and cost-friendly materials and finishes. Expect the real thing for 2010 or later.
Looks like a Flex derivative only better, except for that ugly grill in the front. For some reason I keep seeing a giant teddy bears nose when I look at it. Everyone else is right, Ford as too many of these in the same price range and market. Especially when the market is shrinking for these SUV looking things. They just don't want to accept that profits are going to be smaller because people wont be buying the profit monsters like they used to.
One very good question was posted above: Exactly where will this new Explorer fit in Ford's lineup? Yes, yes, the Taurus X (a fantastic vehicle in its own right) is slowly being displaced by the Flex and the Edge takes up the rung between the Flex and the Escape. Above that, there's the Expedition (which might or might not gain a diesel). Sooooo......
I see little reason why anyone living in a city needs to be driving locally in an SUV, including an Explorer. However, I just bought (!!) at deep discount a limited edition Explorer. I love it. I live off a gravel road and there is no such thing ss a freeway anywhere near me. Yesterday, I was able to go up back roads to the north fork of a creek that I like to fish. The Explorer took to it perfectly. I loved the storage room for all of my equipment and supplies. The Explorer does well what it was designed to do -- off-road, back-road, gravel and rural driving. And with gas prices at rock bottom on the local Indian reservations, all is good. I cannot imagine driving a sedan in this area or one of those flimsy, compacts.