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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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RE: Is it worth it?
By aguilpa1 on 7/28/2011 11:47:15 AM , Rating: -1
maybe I'm at the other end of the spectrum but I find it hard to believe most people drive 18000 miles a year when the estimated average is 12000 miles. Even that number for a city dweller is way to high. I fill up every 1.5 months which works out to about $450/year in gas for my 6cl F150 that gets about 22mpg. I would start to worry if gas got up to like $8/gallon, otherwise I can deal.

Charging an extra $1000 for a smaller engine is a despicable thing to do by Ford and just shows how greedy they are.

RE: Is it worth it?
By GruntboyX on 7/28/2011 11:50:19 AM , Rating: 3
Its not greed. It cost more to build that direct injected and twin turbo charged motor. The V6 is much less complex. While the displacement is smaller on the I4, it isnt the sole contributing factor in price.

RE: Is it worth it?
By Iaiken on 7/28/2011 12:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
You can start with the fact that it's an all-aluminum engine and that aluminum prices are 6x that of cast iron before you factor in the additional machining costs.

RE: Is it worth it?
By FITCamaro on 7/28/2011 2:07:06 PM , Rating: 2
The V6 they use is also all aluminum. I don't know anything other than truck motors and diesels that are built with a cast iron block anymore.

RE: Is it worth it?
By Iaiken on 7/28/2011 3:01:18 PM , Rating: 3
Correct, for some reason I read that as Duratorq (cast iron block, aluminum head) while Duratec is all-aluminum. But at least they are not as absurd as BMW's current engine naming schemes.

RE: Is it worth it?
By cknobman on 7/28/2011 11:59:43 AM , Rating: 2
I live in DFW Texas and I drive 20-22k per year so I used 18 as a conservative estimate.

RE: Is it worth it?
By Spuke on 7/28/2011 12:12:25 PM , Rating: 2
Charging an extra $1000 for a smaller engine is a despicable thing to do by Ford and just shows how greedy they are.
The tech costs more money. I guess you haven't been reading the previous articles on this.

RE: Is it worth it?
By aebiv on 7/28/2011 12:46:36 PM , Rating: 2
I average 51k a year, but then again my job requires a lot of travel.

RE: Is it worth it?
By wyrmslair on 7/28/2011 1:16:56 PM , Rating: 3
Um, it looks like neither of us is near the average, which you are correct to state as around 12K miles per year, but you are as far below the average as I am above at 25K miles per year. Either way, the numbers justify well enough around the average and there are as many of us who exceed the average by enough margin to make that $995 a good trade off for a reasonable increase in mileage without much trade off in power. If gas goes up at all, it just gets better.

As for the price being too high, turbo engines cost more money to make period. Realistically, compared to the cost of one of these, I'd say it's a relatively small percentage. You do realize that a sunroof costs $900 right? So a major engine option switch running $1000 isn't exactly highway robbery. Not to mention a diesel option would probably get another 5 mpg and cost another $1000 to $2000 over the turbo 4?

Basically, if it doesn't work for your needs, then fine don't sweat it. That doesn't make it despicable. In some cases, a smaller engine isn't a cheaper engine to make just because it has less displacement.

RE: Is it worth it?
By tng on 7/28/2011 1:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
I average about 25K a year and I am only home for 6 months of the year. If you live in a large urban environment, you need to get out to the suburbs and spend some time there, understand the other side.

RE: Is it worth it?
By Jeffk464 on 7/29/2011 12:18:50 AM , Rating: 2
With the number of miles you drive a year you could save a fortune by buying a 2012 ford focus or even a toyota prius. Why would you drive a low mileage vehicle?

By the way popular mechanics just did a review on all the current crossovers and the consensus was the new dodge was the best. This was do mainly to its Mercedes based chassis, and not on dodge know how.

RE: Is it worth it?
By tng on 7/29/2011 8:15:52 AM , Rating: 2
I drive a 99 Honda Civic 2dr Coupe. My last fill up I got 45mpg.

I would entertain the idea of the Focus, but not the Prius, I just can't stand the looks.

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