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Ford Takes to the Desert to Test The 2011 Explorer

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On: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Takes to the Desert to Test The 2011 Explorer

There has been a lot of press regarding the 2011 Ford Explorer, as the model that has been completely redesigned from its unibody platform, derived from the automaker's D3 platform, to the new EcoBoost turbocharged 2.0 four-cylinder engine; and it will offer a more powerful V6.

This 2.0-liter inline-four combines a turbocharger, direct injection and four valves per cylinder to deliver an estimated 237 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 250 lb-ft. of torque from 1,750 to 4,000 rpm. Ford says that fuel economy is up 30 percent over the outgoing Explorer V6. The EcoBoost four-cylinder will be offered with front-wheel-drive only.

Not only is the Ford Explorer a top selling SUV in the United States, it is also a hit in the United Arab Emirates’ city of Dubai.
Ford has actually gone to the Arabian peninsula in order to test the Explorer in real life desert terrain that SUV drivers in Dubai may encounter.

“The sweltering heat and humidity conditions of Dubai have helped us develop a better Explorer,” said Chief Engineer for Vehicle Engineering Don Ufford. “With mid-day temperatures pushing 125 degrees Fahrenheit—aggravated by high humidity near the sea coast—Dubai represents an ideal environment to test and validate vehicle performance in some of the world’s most extreme conditions.”

Ufford states that the long trip to Dubai had two objectives: the first to test Ford’s new Explorer in the harsh desert heat and terrain; the second goal was to evaluate the needs of Dubai customers when it comes to their automobiles.

“We regularly sell close to 10,000 Explorers per year in the Middle East market,” Ufford says. “SUV drivers in this part of the world regularly use the broad range of capabilities these vehicles offer. Our rationale for testing in Dubai is simple: If we can perform well here, we can do well anywhere.”

The trip to Dubai offered Ford engineers the opportunity to test components such as air conditioning in the heat and humidity of the desert. desert (having a 50% himidity factor); the temperature can exceed 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjustments made by the engineers to ensure comfort inside the Explorer in the middle of the desert will be used to improve the air conditioning performance vehicles that are sold domestically as well.

“Fine-tuning vehicle performance for these extreme conditions helps us deliver a better product for all of our Explorer customers,” Ufford said. “Nearly all of the adjustments we make to optimize for conditions in Dubai are integrated back into the global product program.”

Ford stated that Dubai gives the company a chance to test the Explorer in a really tough terrain which helped to prove the vehicle’s four-wheel drive capabilities.

“The intense heat and sweltering humidity combine to turn the fine-grained white sand into a deep, soft proving ground to evaluate the sand setting on Explorer’s terrain management system,” Ufford said. “Customers here regularly drop tire pressure and head off into the sand dunes for off-road vehicular recreation. We wanted to make the terrain management system on the new Explorer easy and intuitive to use so customers have the confidence to go off-road without worrying about whether they have properly engaged all the vehicle systems.”

In the sand dunes, Ford explains that “terrain management sand mode allows for some wheel spin at initial throttle tip-in to gather momentum, while limiting slip as vehicle speed increases. Once in motion, the sand setting on Explorer’s terrain management system constantly monitors traction to send the right amount of torque to the wheels for optimal performance.”

The 2011 Ford Explorer will be available in Ford dealerships across North America later this year. Ford plans to export the Explorer to over 90 global markets.


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