When the 2011 Ford Explorer hits the streets this fall it will get its most extensive redesign since the original debuted 20 years ago. Those changes start with the powertrains which will include two different Ecoboost engines. The old Explorer's even older 4.0-liter V6 is being replaced by a new 2.0-liter inline-four Ecoboost unit that is expected to improve the SUV's mileage numbers by at least 30 percent.
The EPA hasn't finished certifying the 2011 Explorer but with the 2010 rated at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, the 2.0-liter will likely get somewhere around 18-19 mpg city and 26-27 mpg highway. The new engine should also improve performance with output expected to be around 230-240 hp and over 250 pound-feet of torque.
Shifting to smaller turbocharged and direct injected engines has allowed Ford to significantly reduce the mass of the new Explorer because it no longer has to support the weight of larger V8 engines. A unit body structure replaces the former body-on-frame layout and incorporates large amounts of high-strength steels and an aluminum hood.
Further improvements to the fuel economy are provided by an electric power steering system, variable displacement air conditioning compressor and smart battery charging all of which reduce the loads on the engine. We'll have more on the new Explorer next week.