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New Ford Explorer Storms Sub-Saharan Africa with Innovation, Performance, Fun

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 2016 Ford Explorer is now available in left-hand drive markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing more smart technologies, improved performance and efficiency, as well as greater all-round capabilities to this popular model.

As America’s top-selling sports utility vehicle (SUV) for the past 25 years – with more than 7 million sold in the United States alone – the Explorer has a formidable reputation that will reach even greater heights in its updated form.

“The Ford Explorer helped define how the world thinks about SUVs,” said Rob Johnston, Regional Manager Sales and Marketing, Ford Customer Services Division for Sub-Saharan Africa. “It is the centrepiece of Ford’s global utility vehicle line-up because it delivers an ideal combination of form and function.”

New Explorer's cabin
New Explorer’s cabin

Explorer's cabin
Explorer’s cabin

Introduced in 1990 as a 1991 model in the US, Explorer featured generous interior space customers were looking for, and was engineered specifically for people seeking adventure for their families and a way to express their individuality. For a quarter century, Explorer has reigned as one of America’s best-selling SUVs.

Ford Explorer is built in North America at Chicago Assembly Plant, as well as in Venezuela and Russia, and is sold in markets across the globe.

“Customers love Explorer, and they expect it to continue to lead the way in innovation, performance and fun,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer for the new Explorer. “That’s the challenge we embraced when we set out to build the best SUV in the world.”

New technologies available for 2016 (depending on model specification) include:

  • Front and rear cameras with washers: Both have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – a class-exclusive, segment-first feature
  • Enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park assist, park-out assist and semi-automatic parallel parking: The system uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel parking and perpendicular parking manoeuvres. Enhanced active park assist includes park-out assist to help a driver pull out of parallel parking spots. The system controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals, and shifts the vehicle into gear
  • Smart-charging USB ports: Located in the front and rear of the vehicle are USB ports able to charge smart devices up to two times faster than conventional ports
  • Hands-free liftgate: A customer need only kick his or her leg below the centre of the rear bumper to open or close the liftgate
  • Active Grille Shutters: Upper and lower fascia openings close at highway speeds to reduce drag. At low speeds, the shutters open to deliver airflow to cool the powertrain
  • Air curtains: Standard air curtains create a high-pressure region of air that impacts the outer surface of the wheels and tyres. The result is airflow held close to the vehicle body, minimizing drag.

Though not new for Explorer, other available features in the 2016 model include:

Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support, Lane-keeping system, Blind Spot Information System, Cross-traffic alert, Auto high-beams, Inflatable rear safety belts

New EcoBoost engines

Capability – that’s what customers will get even more of with the new Explorer, thanks to the introduction of two all-new EcoBoost engines for the 2016 models, delivering unrivalled performance matched to outstanding fuel efficiency.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is rated at 280 horsepower at 5 500 r/min and 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 3 000 r/min on premium fuel. Compared to the 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder it replaces, the new 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine delivers an additional 40 horsepower and 40 lb.-ft. of torque – an increase of 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

At launch, the 2.3-litre EcoBoost is available on the Limited model only, with front-wheel drive and a smooth-shifting six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission. With the new powerplant, highway passing time – from 55 mph to 75 mph – improves by 10 percent.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost benefits from technology that optimizes performance. It employs an active oil control system to optimize pressure when less fluid is needed. An active wastegate controls boost more precisely during light load operation to help save fuel. A higher compression ratio results in more efficient fuel combustion.

The notable improvement in horsepower and torque comes with no significant reduction in fuel economy. The front-wheel-drive Explorer retains its EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 28 mpg highway.

“The new Explorer isn’t giving up its reputation as a leader in highway fuel efficiency – which is especially key for customers who want a vehicle that is also a capable trail warrior,” said Groeneveld.

An exciting new range-topping engine is added to the Explorer for 2016 as well (initially for Angola and Senegal only, in Explorer Sport specification). Based on the engine used in the mighty F-150 Raptor, the 3.5 EcoBoost V6 produces an impressive 365 hp at 5 500 r/min, along with 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3 500 r/min, to deliver truly exceptional performance.

The standard 3.5-litre Ti-VCT V6 engine continues to do duty in Base, XLT and Limited models, with 290 horsepower at 6 500 r/min and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 4 000 r/min. It is paired with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission.

Intelligent four-wheel drive: Ready for any adventure

Explorer’s intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System reassesses conditions about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye – providing precise handling and traction.

wheel angle to determine vehicle conditions and driver intent. The system then determines the optimal amount of front and rear torque for the given conditions to prevent slip from even occurring, which helps keep the vehicle sure-footed on virtually any terrain.

In sand, grass or gravel mode, the antilock braking system changes its pulse rate, which allows material to build up in front of the wheels, acting as a doorstop of sorts to help slow momentum. To help maintain efficiency, in most steady-state cruising conditions the new Explorer equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive seamlessly and quickly transfers torque between the front and rear wheels.

A newly refined, intelligent four-wheel-drive gauge display shows power being distributed to front and rear wheels under all conditions – from heavy four-wheel-drive system usage to when the system is not transmitting power at all.

For added convenience, the Terrain Management System automatically defaults to normal mode whenever the vehicle is started to ensure it’s ready for normal driving conditions.

Using a dial located on the centre console, the customer can shift on the fly, selecting from four terrain management modes – normal, snow, sand or mud – to set how the engine, transmission, brakes and four-wheel-drive system will operate. A fifth setting is for navigating hills.

Comfortable and capable

The new Explorer benefits from an improved suspension for better handling and a quiet cabin, enabling a comfortable ride even when the pavement turns to dirt.

Ford completely retuned the Explorer chassis to clearly differentiate the driving experiences offered by the Base, XLT and Limited models compared to the range-topping Sport.

The suspension uses MacPherson construction with an isolated subframe and 32-millimetre stabilizer bar at the front, while an independent multilink rear setup uses a 22 mm stabilizer bar.

Explorer Sport customers looking for a more dynamic driving experience will benefit from unique steering gear, front and rear springs, struts and rear dampers.

Explorer also features a tower brace that provides additional stiffness between strut towers. The tower brace for Explorer equipped with four-wheel drive is three millimetres thicker for even more stiffness – providing better control and a smoother ride on rugged terrain.

The new Explorer, with standard 18-inch and available 20-inch wheels, offers new tyre options for improved ride and handling while still reducing road noise in the cabin.

Interior changes help enhance quietness in the cabin. There are new door seals, and an enhanced sound package includes engine subframe mounts specially tuned to reduce vibration, as well as a specially tuned exhaust for the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine. Acoustic glass is used on the windshield and front doors on XLT and higher trim levels.

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