2011 Ford Explorer Designed for Wider Market Appeal


It’s a rugged SUV! We swear! (Ford on its new Explorer crossover).

Ford unveiled its 2011 Ford Explorer this morning. The new Explorer is built on a car frame and is more of a crossover than an SUV. The WSJ’s Jonathan Welsh examines what the redesign means:

Company officials say the new Explorer reflects CEO Alan Mulally’s philosophy of developing a broader range of vehicles that can be tailored closely to what customers want. In some ways the Explorer also seeks to appeal to a wider audience than ever before.

In the early 1990s the then-brand-new Explorer defined the mid-size SUV category. The Explorer…had a rugged outdoorsy image, but was just soft and friendly enough to attract a wide range of baby-boomers who wanted to at least look adventurous even if they never drove off-road.

The new vehicle casts an even wider net. It can still tow a 5,000-pound trailer, but its looks and mechanical underpinnings are more car-like — designed for a smooth, quiet ride.

The 2011 Ford explorer will cost $28,995, $1,000 less than the 2010 model, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The redesign is the first time that Ford has veered from the traditional Explorer SUV, one of its best-known brands. I think the mainstream SUV era (you know, those years when everyone clogged freeways with their 20 mpg, off-road capable vehicles that they never drove outside of town) has been over for a few years. The redesign of the Ford Explorer, perhaps the most emblematic SUV of the era, put the final nail in the coffin. Ford isn’t trying anything new here. It’s just re-imagining a brand and creating yet another crossover for people to drive.

Ford will probably tout the fuel efficiency of its new, car-like Explorer. Expect to see the company promote the 2011 Explorer heavily on Facebook–starting with a free 2011 Ford Explorer giveaway.

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