While Ford has made the decision to turn the Explorer from an SUV into a crossover, it seems committed to making that crossover as capable as possible. Ahead of its debut, Ford has announced the new Explorer will get a “terrain management system” to help owners get the most out of the 4WD system.
After market research, and knowing full well that as a crossover the new Explorer will be marketed to less off-road savvy individuals, Ford wisely decided to do away with having to make drivers choose from two-high, four-high or four-low depending on road or trail conditions. Instead the next-gen Explorer will get a simple console mounted knob with clearly marked driving modes for normal, mud, sand or snow. Every mode will also be compatible with a new hill-decent feature, to navigate steep grades. Rather than use a traditional transfer case, Ford will use more advanced electronics to send power to each wheel. This will also reduce the overall weight of the truck crossover and combined with a new V6 engine will see a reduction in fuel consumption by as much as 25 percent.
See the official release and a short video demonstration of the system after the jump:
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ALL-NEW FORD EXPLORER TERRAIN MANAGEMENT SYSTEM MAKES CAPABILITY, TRACTION USER-FRIENDLY
* The all-new Ford Explorer features an intelligent four-wheel-drive (4WD) control system that optimizes vehicle capability to specific situations * The Ford terrain management system integrates powertrain and braking controls to provide appropriate traction for any driving conditions the roads and climate present * Terrain management is activated by a console-mounted, switchable knob, enabling 4WD control through an intuitive choice of settings for various conditions * Terrain management helps Explorer deliver increased fuel economy by eliminating heavy transfer case and driveline components, while making 4WD capabilities more accessible * DEARBORN, Mich., April 15, 2010 – When the all-new Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle goes in to production later this year, it will offer an advanced terrain management system that takes the mystery out of four-wheel drive by optimizing powertrain behavior for specific situations and road conditions.
“Talking with customers told us that flexibility and freedom to tackle any road, anytime is important to them,” said Explorer Chief Nameplate Engineer Jim Holland. “We saw the opportunity to eliminate a compromise by adding an intuitive and efficient terrain management system that can demystify four-wheel-drive control and enable the driver to properly match 4WD traction to the situations and road conditions they encounter.”
Anecdotal customer feedback indicated the potential for driver confusion with previous systems as to the best use of 4×4 high- and low-range engagement.
Ford Explorer with intelligent 4WD and terrain management eliminates guesswork, using simple icons to help drivers choose the correct setting at the simple turn of a dial for the climate or surface situation they may be driving. The icons depict the various settings to best suit driving conditions:
“One of our goals with the new Explorer is to deliver four-wheel-drive capability with easier and intuitively operated control,” said Holland. “The selectable settings are contingent upon weather and conditions, so the system is easily operated and understood. Ford terrain management makes it easier for SUV veterans, while making confidence-building Explorer capability even more accessible to segment newcomers.”
Employment of intelligent 4WD with Ford terrain management allowed Explorer engineers to deliver the “any road, anytime” capabilities that SUV buyers expect, while eliminating weight. Less driveline mass helps the new Explorer with V-6 power deliver an estimated 25 percent better fuel economy than the 2010 model.
“Intelligent 4WD with terrain management works by optimizing Explorer powertrain and braking systems to best suit a variety of situations, allowing vehicle behavior characteristics to provide appropriate traction and driver control,” said Holland. “We anticipate the system will really be a stress-reducer and confidence-builder, especially when driving in adverse conditions.”
The re-engineered Ford Explorer goes in to production later this year.