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2012 Ford Explorer

EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder  (Source: Dana60Cummins/Wikipedia)
The new EcoBoost engine option gives up 40 hp to the V6, but betters it in low-end torque and fuel efficiency

With rising gas prices and the government's keen eye on CAFE numbers, more and more fuel efficient vehicles are starting to flood the market. Turbocharging was once relegated to performance cars and diesels, but now manufacturers are starting to adopt the direct injection and turbocharging for their mainstream gasoline engine vehicles. Hyundai has found success by replacing its V6 engine on the Sonata with a 274 hp turbocharged inline-4. Likewise, Ford has found success with its EcoBoost V6 engines in the Taurus SHO, Flex, and F-150. 

Now, Ford is bringing a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder to the recently revamped Explorer crossover. While the Explorer is currently available with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 that produces 283 hp (@6,500 rpm) and 252 lb-ft of torque (@4,100 rpm), the new EcoBoost generated 240 hp (@5,500 rpm) and 272 lb-ft of torque (3,000 rpm). The new engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and is only available with front-wheel drive models. 

Many people would likely give up the 40 horses for the added low-end grunt and the fuel economy increase. The V6 is rated at 17/25/20 (city/highway/combined) while the new EcoBoost four-cylinder is rated at 20/28/25. Ford says that these numbers better segment rivals like the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot.

Much like the EcoBoost V6 engine option (which is more expensive than the 5.0-liter V8), the EcoBoost four-cylinder in the Explorer will command a $995 price premium versus the V6.

"Today's SUV buyers place a high priority on miles per gallon, so Explorer has expanded its portfolio of fuel-efficient engines with an all-new EcoBoost offering," said Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager. "SUV buyers deserve efficiency with their capability, so Explorer now offers best-in-class V6 and four-cylinder fuel efficiency." 

Ford has seen the sales of its V6-equipped F-150s eclipse those of the larger V8 engines as buyers flock to power and fuel economy -- the company is hoping that that same formula works for the Explorer which has already sold more units in the first six months of 2011 than the old model did in all of 2010. 

Ford is also bringing an EcoBoost three-cylinder engine to its subcompact Fiesta.

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By VahnTitrio on 7/28/2011 11:02:38 AM , Rating: 3
Does it list the towing capacity of the Ecoboost? Around my parts people buy large vehicles because they intend to use them (there's probably a trailer for every family here). Now this obviously won't be able to tow huge loads but can they eek a 5000 lb capacity out of it? 3000?

RE: Towing
By Brandon Hill on 7/28/2011 11:05:29 AM , Rating: 3
OUCH! Just checked, maximum towing dropped from 5000 pounds to 2000 pounds with the EcoBoost.


RE: Towing
By DanNeely on 7/28/2011 11:35:09 AM , Rating: 2
As long as the standard v6 remains available I don't see much of a problem. Towing might be common where VahnTitrio lives; but most suv's are only used to carry people/cargo internally. It's not a problem for the general suburban yuppiemobile use.

RE: Towing
By Brandon Hill on 7/28/2011 11:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
You're right. Most of these vehicles will be piloted by moms hopping curbs at Target ;)

RE: Towing
By DanNeely on 7/28/2011 1:11:02 PM , Rating: 5
Most of these vehicles will be piloted by moms <strike>hopping curbs</strike> who slow down to 1 mile and hour when approaching a 1 inch high speed bump at Target


RE: Towing
By mcnabney on 7/28/2011 2:24:39 PM , Rating: 2
That 2000 pound towing sounds stupid-low. My 4cyl 2.5L Mazda 5 can tow that much.

RE: Towing
By THEfog on 7/29/2011 2:08:44 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah something about that number seems way to low. My 4Cyl 2.89L B2600 Is rated for 5000 Pounds and its simply a rear wheel drive Tradie ute.

RE: Towing
By AssBall on 7/28/2011 2:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
I read that they completely lost any resemblance of off road capability too. Too bad, I guess this is what is sorta happening to the 4 runner too though.

RE: Towing
By mindless1 on 7/28/2011 9:59:58 PM , Rating: 2
It's only available with front wheel drive, so yes of course there's no off-road capability.

RE: Towing
By Iaiken on 7/28/2011 11:50:18 AM , Rating: 4
Towing capacity has as much to do with the suspension and transmission as it does the engine. When you're looking in the 5000lb+ range you're talking AWD, locking differentials, low range mode, stiffer suspension, larger breaks, etc.

The new six speed transmission is front wheel drive and geared for fuel economy. Likewise, the vehicle looks like it is going to be about 440lbs lighter and that negatively affects it's ability to safely tow a load. So with the engine accounting for 120lbs of the difference the remaining 320lbs probably came from the absence of AWD, smaller breaks and lighter duty suspension.

RE: Towing
By theapparition on 7/28/2011 12:29:47 PM , Rating: 2
Time to sell the boat and buy some jetskis. 2000lbs you say, OK, make that one jetski. Sorry family, we can only go out one at a time.

Maybe I'm over dramaticizing here, but that is a huge hit to towing capacity. Even 5000 for the V6 isn't enough to do that much with. My boat trailer weighs close to 2000lbs.

RE: Towing
By MonkeyPaw on 7/28/2011 12:52:42 PM , Rating: 5
You can always not get the ecoboost option, save $999, tow more, and be happy. As long as the options are there, its not a problem. And as someone already said, the extra towing capacity comes at a cost of efficiency. Besides, the new explorer is on a car frame, so its not really a towing machine from the start.

RE: Towing
By GruntboyX on 7/28/2011 11:48:25 AM , Rating: 3
The unibody construction coupled with the part time AWD system just doesn't make a good towing vehicle. Contrast that with the Durango which is RWD and a more traditional suspension, it can tow 7000 lbs and has full time FWD. Popular mechanics has a nice piece on the off road prowess of these new CUVs

RE: Towing
By Jeffk464 on 7/29/2011 12:24:10 AM , Rating: 2
These crossovers are basically restyled minivans. Don't expect large towing capacity.

RE: Towing
By PhantomKnight on 7/29/2011 10:33:41 PM , Rating: 2
We have the same problem here in Australia with regards to Turbo charged engined cars not able to tow as much. Eg, my 1800 kg (400lbs) sedan has an inline 6 4.0ltr Turbocharged engine, putting out 360hp at the rear wheels, and is only rated to tow 1200kgs (2600lbs). Where as the 5.4ltr V8 and N/A i6 4.0ltr version, is rated at 2300kgs (5100 lbs). As best as I can figure is that due to it being a turbo'ed petrol engine, there is an issue with heating up the turbo and reducing longevity.

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