Ford Explorer: The 2006 Explorer features
the same wheelbase and track as before,
but has a much larger, much bolder
1st August 2005.
How do you
improve upon a vehicle that created its segment and has
continued to be the sales leader for 15 straight years?
For the 2006 Ford
Explorer, the answer is more power, improved fuel economy,
low emissions, new advanced safety technologies,
class-leading (*) interior quietness, improved ride
comfort and bolder styling.
Explorer has been the
world's best-selling SUV for 15 consecutive years with
sales totaling nearly 5.5 million because it adheres to a
simple formula: put people first.
Since its introduction
in 1990, Explorer has defined the SUV
segment by offering the capability of an SUV for towing
and off-roading, along with innovations in package,
comfort and refinement.
changing segment -
SUVs have been the fastest-growing vehicle type over the
past 15 years, but market dynamics are clearly changing.
For customers who need a traditional SUV,
the '06 Explorer's combination of features and
capabilities is unmatched.
The US total SUV market grew from 929,000 units in 1990
(or 6.6 percent of the U.S. automotive market) to 4.8
million units (or 27.5 percent of the U.S. automotive
market) in 2004. During that time, the number of
nameplates increased from a few dozen to well over 200
distinct models, and the segment has fragmented into traditional
truck-based and smaller car-based crossover
models. Through the first half of 2005, traditional SUV
sales are down, while crossover sales continue to
"The SUV market is rapidly changing into two
increasingly distinct types of vehicles, and Ford will
deliver the best vehicles for each type of customer,"
says Steve Lyons, group vice president, North American
Marketing, Sales and Service. "With the proliferation
of new crossover vehicles, the market for traditional SUVs
that offer full capability including towing and the
ability to drive off-road is clearly not as large as
it used to be. For many customers, crossovers like the Ford
Freestyle deliver just what they need and want. But
there will also continue to be a strong market for
traditional SUVs, and the new Explorer steps up the game
in delivering more of what those customers want."
the Ford Explorer was introduced in 1990,
SUVs accounted for only 929,000 annual
U.S. sales. That number climbed to over 2
million by 2000. Car-based crossovers
continue to fuel SUV growth, boosting
sales to 4.8 million units, or 27.5% of
the market, in 2004.
V-8 powertrain - The
2006 Explorer's new optional three-valve 4.6-liter SOHC
V-8 that shares the same variable cam timing and
three-valve cylinder heads used on the highly lauded
and the 5.4-liter Ford F-150 engine. In the Explorer, the
new 4.6-liter delivers 292 horsepower (53 more horsepower
than the two-valve 4.6-liter previously used) and 300
foot-pounds (406 Newton-meter) of torque.
The V-8 is fitted to
the first six-speed automatic in the segment, with
a wide 6.04:1 gear ratio, enabling the engine to spend
more time in its optimum powerband either at peak
power for acceleration, or at peak efficiency for more
Ford Explorer: Seven-passenger 2006
Explorer models offer a maximum of 82.8
cubic feet of cargo room.
As a result, V-8 4x4
models are expected to deliver up to 10 percent
improvement in fuel economy, in addition to an increase
of 53 more horsepower. And the new V-8 delivers low
emissions, as well. It is expected to qualify for the
stringent Tier II, Bin 5 federal standards, which is
compliant with California's Low Emissions Vehicle II (LEV
"The new three-valve V-8 and six-speed automatic
drivetrain is a tremendous advantage for the 2006
Explorer," says Raj Nair, SUV and Body-on-Frame
Vehicles executive director. "Not only does it offer
more power, more refinement and improved fuel economy, but
it also offers increased utility. The additional power
output helps Explorer handle an increased payload
more than 1,500 pounds and has a 7,300 pound
standard SOHC V-6 engine received significant improvements
for the 2006 model year as well. Idle quality was
improved by 50 percent, thanks to a new camshaft and spark
plugs. New engine calibrations and improved emission
controls cut smog-forming emissions by 74 percent compared
to the previous model.
These improvements are expected to allow the 2006 Explorer
V-6 to meet federal Tier II Bin 4 emissions requirements
to achieve ULEV II status the same federal tailpipe
emissions standards as the Ford Escape Hybrid, the world's
innovations - The 2006 Ford Explorer leads its
class with 10 standard advanced safety technologies. Seven
of these 10 standard features are new to the mid-size SUV
class, including four new adaptive technologies
specifically designed for Ford's stringent internal safety
targets. The new Explorer provides the most active and
passive safety features in its class.
"The 2006 Ford
Explorer's suite of
available safety features is unmatched in its class,"
says Sue Cischke, vice president, Environmental and Safety
Engineering. "It offers active safety
technology, including confidence-inspiring handling
and braking combined with AdvanceTrac® with
class-exclusive Roll Stability Control, to help prevent
accidents from occurring. In the case of an accident, the
2006 Explorer offers enhanced side-impact rollover
protection and four new adaptive safety technologies that
help tailor frontal-impact protection based on crash
severity, occupant size and safety-belt usage."
In fact, the new
Explorer meets all known federal frontal- and side-impact
crash requirements through 2010.
Explorer already achieves one of the best
impact-protection ratings among mid-sized SUVs, according
to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's
2005 model year New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) data.
The new 2006 model is expected to improve on that rating.
To meet federal safety regulations and Ford's
even more stringent internal safety targets, the 2006
Explorer offers the following advanced safety technologies
as standard equipment:
"Simply put, all
safety features help manage the forces on the occupants
during an impact," says Jeff Laya, Explorer crash
safety supervisor. "Explorer's new adaptive safety
features all work together to estimate the size of the
occupant and impact severity, and are then tailored to
manage those forces. If you think of it in a slow-motion
sequence, the safety belts absorb some of the energy, then
the air bag absorbs more, and then the stroking steering
column absorbs even more. We can provide enhanced
protection for a wide variety of circumstances and tailor
the protection to each individual event."
door panel features new push-pull window
switches. 2006 Explorer is available with
power-adjustable pedals, navigation
system. Larger headrests which articulate
when not in use for improved rearward
In addition, the 2006
Explorer features improvements and new features to help
further protect occupants during a rollover or
As with the previous
model, the 2006 Explorer offers available Safety CanopyTM
side air curtains that deploy in certain side-impact
collisions or if an impending rollover is detected to help
protect front- and second-row outboard occupants.
The air curtains feature "roll-fold" technology.
If an occupant is improperly seated and resting his head
against a window, the Safety CanopyTM
is designed to slide between the glass and occupant as it
inflates. A new front "sail panel" of fabric
attached to the A-pillar also helps position the Safety
Also new for 2006 are
standard side-impact air bags for the driver and front
passenger. Mounted in the outboard side of each front
seat, these air bags further enhance protection for the an
occupant's chest in the event of a side collision.
and door trim also have been designed to help cushion the
abdomen and lower torso during a side impact. And a
four-inch-thick foam block installed between the exterior
and interior front-door panels further helps manage side
impact forces on the occupant's hips.
- The 2006 Explorer
interior benefits from a concerted effort by Ford
engineers to decrease unwanted noise in the cabin. In
fact, the Explorer team focused on every aspect of the
vehicle, from the exterior, interior, chassis and
powertrain to quell noise, vibration and harshness.
Significantly, the Explorer is not only quieter measured
in the first row, but the third row is quieter than the
second row of most competitors at highway speeds. In fact,
the Explorer's third row is just as quiet as some
competitors' front row. This is a key to passing Ford's
speed intelligibility tests, which enable occupants in the
first row to effortlessly hold a conversation with
passengers in the second and third rows at highway speeds.
row at highway speeds: the 2006 Ford Explorer has
the quietest interior in its class
Explorer's interior: quieter than its closest
all-new interior features the use of advanced materials
that dampen vibrations and lessen noise. New insulation
materials have been used along the headliner, door panels
and floor of the passenger compartment to help provide
class-leading interior quietness.
Explorer is available with side-mirror
puddle lamps for increased safety and
The powertrains are
more refined thanks to improvements such as additional
exhaust resonators and intake manifold "valley
stuffers" that quiet the air induction and exhaust
sounds. Even the climate control system has been enlisted
in the war on noise: it is now 30 percent quieter than
before, yet improves cooling performance.
Although it features a more assertive design than before,
the 2006 Explorer actually has a slightly lower
aerodynamic drag than the model it replaces. The new
sideview mirrors are larger for increased visibility, yet
the mirror shell manages the airflow more effectively,
resulting in less wind turbulence transmitted into the
cabin. In fact, this new design is so successful, the
mirrors actually reduce wind noise compared to tests
conducted with no side mirrors at all. Further, the roof
panel features modified "beads" or ridges
stamped into the sheet metal that help prevent the
large body panel from vibrating, stifling unwanted noise.
frame design, with more than 2,200
linear-inches of welds, for up to 63%
stiffer than the sturdy frame it replaces.
frame, independent suspensions,
brake system -
Also improving interior noise levels is an all-new frame.
Thanks to increases in section height and width, it is 63
percent more resistant to bending and 55 percent
more resistant to twisting. The Explorer adopts the F-150's
tube-through-tube frame design, where the cross
members pass through the section of the frame-rails,
creating an inherently stronger joint. These joints are
then completely welded around the perimeter for a fully
stiffer frame provides a smoother ride with better
road feel, crisper handling and improved steering response
because it allowed Ford engineers to improve the vehicle
systems the stronger frame supports including the
front and rear suspensions, and the braking and steering
systems. Paired with new manufacturing techniques that
decrease manufacturing tolerances, the Explorer's solid
foundation also helps significantly reduce long-term
squeaks and rattles.
improved independent rear suspension now features trailing
arms and is more robust to accommodate the vehicle's increased
towing and payload capability, yet is slightly lighter
than the previous short- and long-arm assembly. As before,
the rear half shafts pass through frame portholes,
lowering the independent rear suspension subframe for
better third-row packaging and a lower center of gravity.
suspension also is new, retaining basic geometry with
upper and lower control arms and a sway bar. It too
features stronger components, yet is slightly lighter
weight overall. Both front and rear suspensions now
feature monotube shocks replacing twin-tube shocks.
The monotube shocks are tuned to take advantage of the
stiffer frame, delivering even less impact harshness for
improved ride comfort while still delivering excellent
primary ride control.
design and tuning are usually a compromise between ride
comfort and body control," says Judy Curran, Explorer
chief engineer. "Tuning the suspension for a plush,
comfortable ride over potholes usually results in a
floating feeling on the highway and too much body lean in
corners. The stiffer frame enabled the engineering team to
tune the 2006 Explorer for much better impact dampening
while still delivering confident body control during
cornering." Steering feel is improved by a new
"drooping flow" pump that retains firm,
confident steering feel at higher speeds, yet decreases
parking-lot speed efforts by up to 15 percent.
Explorer features standard four-wheel disc
brakes with ABS, electronic brake
distribution, and electronic brake assist.
The brake system has been redesigned for
increased durability and heat dissipation,
contributing to Explorer's increased
As before, the four-wheel
disc brake system features standard anti-lock
brakes, electronic brake distribution and electronic brake
assist. For 2006, Explorer's brake system has been
redesigned for improved heat dissipation and durability.
These changes helped increase the vehicle's maximum
capacities. With a 1,520-pound payload and 7,300-pound tow
rating, the 2006 model is the most capable Explorer ever.
package, with power-fold
third-row seat - The
2006 Explorer has an all-new interior with improved
accommodations for all occupants. New front seats with
available 10-way power on the driver's seat provide more
comfort and ride on extended tracks that allow a full inch
more travel. The second row is available in three
configurations; a 60-40 (no reclining) split, a
reclining 60-40 split that allows access to the third row,
and bucket seats separated by a center console. New,
larger head restraints provide enhanced safety and
articulate for improved rear visibility when the seat is
third-row seats' bench height was raised 1.75 inches,
providing better visibility for children while still
affording comfortable headroom for taller occupants.
Another change is a
50/50 seatback split to allow greater versatility for
varying loads of people and cargo. The third-row seat also
offers a power-fold option. Ford Motor Company was first
in the industry with this feature, introduced on the
Lincoln Navigator, and Explorer will be the first in the
mid-size SUV segment to offer this convenience.
2006 Ford Explorer features a new,
4.6-liter, 3-valve V-8 with variable cam
timing, delivering 292 hp and 300 ft.-lbs.
Both the second and
third rows of seats fold completely flat, when equipped
with the second-row bench seat. Where previous
seven-passenger Explorers had a slight incline of the load
floor approximately 10 degrees from horizontal the
redesigned seats allow a virtually flat floor, only two
degrees from horizontal. The new fold-flat floor design
also increases usable cargo volume in the flattest
- "The 2006
Explorer interior builds on the design leadership of the
Ford F-150 truck," says Chelsia Lau, Explorer chief
designer. "We wanted to build on the F-150's theme of
'tough luxury.' For Explorer, we improved the
craftsmanship of the interior and gave it a bolder,
stronger design. As a result, the 2006 Explorer feels both
more sophisticated and more adventurous: It's tough, yet
refined at the same time."
2006 Explorer is available with sophisticated details such
as Preferred SuedeTM
seat inserts and contrasting stitching paired with strong,
vertical lines and wood trim. In addition, the new
center stack houses Explorer's first available DVD
navigation system the first system in its segment to
include spoken upcoming street names as part of its
V-6 - engine received significant
improvements for 2006 MY.
a first for Explorer is the console-mounted
transmission shifter. Even the doors have been
designed to make them more functional as well as
attractive. Window control switches now use a more
intuitive push-pull design. The door-release handle
also has been revised. It is now integrated into the
forward end of the armrest so that it is literally at a
design - Fitting
the Explorer's increased capability, the new model
features a new, bolder exterior design. Though the
2006 Explorer features the same footprint, solid
proportions and planted stance as the outgoing model, the
new Explorer has a much larger presence, most noticeably
in the all-new front end. Everything is new from
the base of the windshield forward. The new grilles, with
three distinct styles wrapping the larger seven-inch Ford
blue oval, make the strongest statement.
the front of the 2006 Explorer, the rear infuses
Explorer's classic look with a bold new attitude. The 2006
model also offers available 18-inch chrome wheels wrapped
in P235/65R-18 all-season tires for a more rugged
appearance. These changes visually communicate power,
capability, and durability, reinforcing Explorer's
traditional, authentic SUV roots.
series strategy -
The 2006 Explorer will be available in four trim levels:
XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited.
XLS is the value entry, for younger families that
want a medium-size SUV, not a small SUV or a crossover.
XLT is the core offering, totaling 50 percent of
Explorer models. These customers tend to be older than XLS
buyers and need to carry a family. But, the
"sensation seeker" in them also wants a
traditional SUV for the occasional weekend adventure.
Eddie Bauer model has become the quintessential
Explorer model, offering the best of both worlds: It
offers capability and a bold style, paired with luxury
amenities. It is anticipated that Eddie Bauer sales will
double, as it is now offered in a broader range: The standard
Eddie Bauer model will offer 17-inch wheels,
leather-trimmed seats, wood trim and unique chromed
grille. The available luxury package adds the
choice of two-tone seats with Preferred SuedeTM
inserts, heated front seats and a 290-watt, six-disc
audiophile stereo. For the first time, 18-inch chrome
wheels are also available on both Eddie Bauer offerings.
represents the top of the line for those who need the
capability of a traditional SUV, but want something that
represents success. The Limited offers monochromatic
exterior, more interior amenities and standard chrome
finish on the grille and 17-inch wheels. Like the Eddie
Bauer, 18-inch chrome wheels are also available.
The 2006 Explorer will
go on sale this fall in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It
will be produced at Ford's St. Louis and Louisville
assembly plants. Pricing will be announced closer
comparisons based on the five volume leaders in the
mid-size, mid-price SUV segment: Ford Explorer, Chevrolet
TrailBlazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, and