New Ford Explorer teased, will the car-based model still be a rugged SUV?

Jim Holland, Chief Engineer for the Redesigned Ford Explorer

What you’re looking at here is a picture of Jim Holland, chief engineer for the redesigned Ford Explorer, standing next to his new baby. Holland, 49, was chief engineer of the Range Rover when a redesign of the SUV began in 2002. He has spent the last 2 1/2 years working on the new Explorer.

One of the most frequent questions Holland gets is whether the 2011 Explorer (or is it 2012 now?) can keep its ruggedness and towing capacity while it shifts from a body-on-frame SUV to a car-based crossover.

“They can call it whatever they like,” said Aaron Bragman, automotive analyst for IHS Global Insight. “It’s built on a Taurus platform, so it is actually a crossover.”

Ford still plans to market the new Explorer as an SUV with third-row seating and not a crossover vehicle.

Since Holland is chief engineer of the new Explorer, we were bound to see some Range Rover hints in the new model. As you can see from the picture, the Explorer’s hood and headlight will look similar to the Range Rover’s clamshell hood. There are other similarities as well.

Holland said Land Rover, which was owned by FoMoCo at the time, redesigned Range Rover using a car platform. “We were able to clearly demonstrate that Range Rover was as capable, if not more capable than, the outgoing model,” Holland said.

Another similarity is the Terrain Management System, which Land Rover was sure to remind us was invented by them.

The 2011 (or 2012) Ford Explorer will be revealed later this year with sales to start shortly after. Ford plans to offer front- and all-wheel-drive models and has promised to offer a 2.0L 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine. 6-cylinder options will be available as well.

– By: Omar Rana

Source: FreePress