Ford's new Explorer concept is designed less to show the future direction of the Explorer model and more to showcase Ford's new fuel-saving technologies. But most of these technologies are merely new to Ford, and have already been used by other automakers.
Current Explorers, and many traditional SUVs, use a body-on-frame design, but Ford used a unibody architecture on this concept to save weight. The concept also has electric power steering, a feature found in the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Ford says over 80 percent of its cars will use electric power steering by 2011.
Ford touts its EcoBoost technology on the Explorer America as a means of saving fuel. EcoBoost is direct injection, currently used on Volkswagen, Audi, and Lexus cars. Direct injection burns fuel more efficiently by injecting it into the cylinder, rather than into an intake manifold. The Explorer America also can cut fuel to the engine while decelerating, preventing waste.
The Explorer America uses a six speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection, definitely a fuel-saving technology but hardly a first. Mercedes-Benz models use seven speeds, while the Lexus LS 460 has eight. We do like the little seats the pull out of the concepts rear bumper.
The cabin of the Explorer America looks like a concept should, with seats that sit up on single pillars, a floating console, and a dial to control the transmission. Of course, the Jaguar XF, a production car, also uses a dial for the transmission.
In our opinion, the best part of this concept is the crazy navigation system, which looks worthy of a spaceship. It displays route guidance along its panel, while a giant compass lets you know where you are in the world.