The 2011 Ford Explorer, slimmed down with lighter materials and new engine choices, will achieve a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared with the previous, 2010 V-6-equipped Explorer, Ford Motor Co. announced on July 19, 2010.
It had been a decade since then-Ford CEO Jacques Nasser pledged to increase the fuel economy of the company’s SUVs by “25-in-5,” or 25 percent in 5 years.
The redesigned Ford Explorer -- once the top-selling SUV in America — was slimmed down for 2011 and transferred to a car-based, unibody platform. It no longer was a gasoline-guzzling, truck-based hulk with a V-8 under the hood.
Ford offered an optional, two-liter EcoBoost I-4 engine on the latest Explorer.
The latest Explorer adopted the same platform as the new Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans and the Ford Flex crossover. It also offered third-row seats as standard equipment.
The newest Explorer -- offering just the I-4 and a 3.5-liter V-6 engine -- went on sale in late 2010 with a six-speed automatic transmission for extra fuel economy.
The previous Explorer equipped with two-wheel drive and a four-liter V-6 was rated at 14 mpg city/20 highway.
The 3.5-liter 2011 Explorer was rated 17/25 in front-wheel drive and 17/23 in four-wheel drive. The 2012 2.0–liter Explorer was rated 20/28 in front-wheel drive.
Ford engineers used lighter and stronger high-strength steels such as boron to add durability and reduce weight on the new Explorer. Other weight-saving moves included an aluminum hood and a one-piece composite front bolster -- the radiator support between engine and grille -- that was 65 percent lighter.
New engine controls, electric power-assisted steering, advanced battery management and what Ford called aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff also helped reduce gas consumption.