Posts Tagged ‘SUV


2013 Ford Explorer Sport The twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 helps the Explorer explore its limits.


Although “sport” is right there in the term “sport-utility vehicle,” those vehicles’ inherently heavy weights, higher centers of gravity, and blocky shapes usually preclude sports-car fun, no matter how much power you shoehorn under the hood. Most SUVs are little more than shuttle buses, a task for which they are well-suited.

Still, there are some loons who want their family hauler to haul ass—witness the chariots of lunacy in our most recent hot-rod SUV comparo. To tap this market, Ford has just introduced the Explorer Sport.

In a nutshell, the Explorer Sport is simply an Explorer fitted with the Taurus SHO’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, that makes 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Hit the throttle, and it’s pretty clear this is not your usual seven-seat Ford—it rockets up to 80 mph before the acceleration starts to tail off. Zero to 60 times fall from about eight seconds for the naturally aspirated V-6 Explorer to around six in the Sport.

The powertrain is quiet and very smooth. Only at low speeds do you hear much engine noise, and what you do hear sounds angry enough for a family vehicle. To handle the elevated engine torque, the Explorer Sport only comes with all-wheel drive and Ford’s system allocates the power as needed to maximize traction. Even so, a full-throttle launch reveals traces of torque steer, although this disappears once the transmission shifts into second gear.

Continue reading ‘2013 Ford Explorer Sport The twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 helps the Explorer explore its limits.’


Ford to debut curve control system in new Explorer

Ford Motor Co. is upgrading the electronic stability control system on its 2011 Ford Explorer to help the SUV perform better if a driver takes a curve too quickly.

The curve control system uses the same sensors as Ford’s stability control system, which monitors the steering wheel angle, wheel speed, tilt of the vehicle and other inputs 100 times per second. Stability control cuts the engine’s power and applies the brakes to individual wheels if it senses a driver going off-course. Curve control adds another layer of monitoring and can cut power even more quickly if it senses the SUV isn’t turning as fast as the driver wants it to. Curve control will be able to drop the Explorer’s speed by as much as 10 miles per hour in a second.

Continue reading ‘Ford to debut curve control system in new Explorer’


Ford Tries to Jump-Start the Explorer SUV

By Keith Naughton

In the late 1990s, at the peak of America’s love affair with sport-utility vehicles, North Hills (Calif.) Ford dealer Beau Boeckmann had an entire showroom dedicated to the Ford Explorer. The rugged SUV racked up 300 sales each month for his dealership, and it accounted for most of the profits forFord Motor (F) and its dealers nationwide. These days the gas-guzzling Explorer is a has-been and Boeckmann is lucky to sell five a month. Once the top-selling SUV in America, it today ranks No. 13 among utility models. “The Explorer isn’t even on people’s radar,” he says.

Desperate to revive the brand, Ford this summer will unveil a redesigned 2011 Explorer that goes on sale in the fall for about $30,000. Ford’s challenge: Craft a politically correct SUV to win back buyers and beat back critics. That’s a lot to ask of the Explorer, an SUV synonymous with the kind of big-rig addiction that nearly destroyed Detroit. “It’s a vehicle that has to sell against its name,” says consultant Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, Mich. “People still think of the Explorer as a truck and say, ‘I don’t want a truck.’ ”

Continue reading ‘Ford Tries to Jump-Start the Explorer SUV’


2009 Ford Escape Hybrid | Best Small SUV MPG

Review of the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid

The 2008 model year brought significant cosmetic changes to the Ford Escape, adding sharper lines and a more rugged exterior. For 2009, Ford has turned its attention under the hood and revamped the 2009 Ford Escape hybrid’s mechanics. By bringing the SUV’s inner-workings up to speed, the auto giant is hoping to see sales even higher than it did during a record-breaking ’08.

What’s new?
For the $28,000-$32,000 that it will cost to get you into an ’09 Escape, you’ll find more power, smoother handling and improved mileage. You can now drive a little further on every fill up, as the ’09 hybrid Escape’s mpg rating has improved to 34 city and 31 highway (an improvement of 1 mile per gallon over the 2008 hybrid Escape).

The 2.5 liter engine in the ‘09 Escape is Ford’s first attempt at using variable valve timing in conjuction with their Atkinson cycle hybrid engine. The result is an almost unnoticeable transition between electric and gas modes. Ford outfitted all 2009 Escapes with a new power train and upgraded the four speed automatic transmission to a six speed automatic transmission. As a result, the car hugs tight turns and shifts smoothly.

A major change in the hybrid version now allows you to drive the Escape in “all electric mode” from 0-40 mph before the gas engine takes over. The previous model made the switch at 30 miles per hour. On the outside, some minor adjustments to the spoilers and wheels allow for better aerodynamics and result in the car achieving two or three more miles per gallon.

2009 Ford Escape ImageA new electronic braking system increases the 2009 SUV’s stability and provides better feel of the brake pedal. Ford claims this change offers a more seamless crossover from regenerative to traditional braking. Another first for small hybrids is AdvanceTrac with RCS, Ford’s patented stability control system that includes rollover stability control, now standard on the 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid (and the 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid).

Optional equipment includes Ford’s increasingly popular SYNC system (voice activated in-car communication and entertainment system), this year with “911 assist”. Buyers can also opt for the new Sirius Travel Link system for real time traffic, weather, and fuel price notifications.

According to a press release from Ford Motor Company, the 2009 Ford Escape is scheduled to be available sometime during the summer of 2008, although no specific mention of the hybrid model’s availability was made.

Future of the Ford Escape
At this year’s New York Auto Show, Ford also unveiled the results of its partnership with Southern California Edison: a plug-in hybrid Escape. The 20 prototypes the team has built are very similar to the 2008 Escapes, with a 2.3 liter, four cylinder engine, but subsequent prototypes being built this summer will feature the same 2.5 liter, four cylinder that the ’09 has. The plug-in version also swaps the 2kwh nickel metal hydride battery for a 10kwh lithium ion battery and plug on the left side of the car.

Throughout the next year and a half, Ford hopes to test and improve these cars and have the plug-in hybrid ready for sale within the next five years.

Additional Information On The ‘09 Escape Hybrid SUV:

Ford Motor Company – 2009 Escape Official Press Release


Original source:



When Buying
A Gas Guzzler
Makes Sense

In an Age of $4-a-Gallon Fuel,
Some Drivers Could Benefit
By Getting a Bargain SUV

June 5, 2008; Page D1

The gasoline-price-induced collapse of the sport-utility-vehicle market presents a quandary for consumers. With gas at $4 a gallon, SUVs no longer make affordable commuter vehicles. But at the same time, they’ve never been cheaper.

With gas prices continually on the rise, gas guzzling SUV’s are becoming a bargain for a price hunter. Paul Lin speaks with a Nissan dealer about the marketplace.

Manufacturers are offering between $2,000 and $5,000 in discounts on once strong-selling models like the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Suburban, and dealers say there’s plenty of negotiating room after that. Discounting is even heavier on used vehicles, with some selling at roughly one-third the price they would have fetched new four years ago.

The bottom line is that, for people who don’t drive much, today’s deeply discounted SUVs may actually make financial sense.

“It is the ultimate buyer’s market,” says John Casesa, managing partner at Casesa Shapiro Group LLC, a New York advisory firm that owns some dealerships.

For nearly two decades, the car industry rolled out one SUV after another, each seemingly more hulking than the one before. Consumers had little interest in high-mileage small cars, and auto makers made huge profits by selling SUVs.

[SUV deals]
Associated Press
An enticement for a free year of gasoline with the purchase of a vehicle hangs over a row of unsold 2008 Explorers in April at a Ford dealership in Denver in late April.

High gas prices have upended this world. After declining in both 2006 and 2007, sales of midsize and large SUVs have dropped another 23.7% and 31.8%, respectively, so far this year, according to research firm Autodata Corp. New SUVs are stacking up in dealer lots, and demand for used SUVs is so slack that dealers are willing just to break even to get them off their lots.

Now, as it did following the energy crises of the 1970s, the auto industry is trying to remake itself. Sales of small cars are soaring, and car makers both domestic and foreign are rushing to get more of them into showrooms.

But Detroit’s Big Three in particular are struggling to adjust fast enough to new market realities. General Motors Corp. said this week it would shutter some plants making SUVs and pickup trucks, and is mulling selling its Hummer brand, a poster child for gas guzzling. Ford Motor Co. recently abandoned its goal of restoring profitability in 2009 and said it would further cut production of SUVs and pickups, which have also suffered amid high energy prices and the economic slowdown.



Here are three things SUV bargain shoppers should keep in mind:

 Leasing can protect you from plunging resale values. But watch out for excessive down payments.

 An SUV can be economical even when gas costs $4 — if you drive it sparingly.

 Cash-back and special financing offers abound, but vary by region. (See chart below.)

Until auto makers can catch up, SUVs represent a big buying opportunity for certain drivers who don’t mind driving a vehicle viewed by many as politically incorrect.

The biggest SUVs, such as a Jeep Commander or Hummer, get only about 14 or 15 miles per gallon on average, depending on the model, according to government figures. Most don’t fare much better than 20 mpg on the highway. But for people who mainly use their vehicles to tool around the neighborhood, low mileage may not be a deal buster. Even with $4 gas, a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV driven 8,000 miles a year costs only about $2,000 to fill up, according to government figures, while a Honda Civic compact driven 16,000 miles costs about $2,200.

Some drivers simply need the size or power that make SUVs such gas hogs. A Chevrolet Suburban seats up to nine people with plenty of room for luggage. Many SUVs have rear-wheel drive, which, along with their heavy frames, makes them better for towing boats or recreational vehicles. Others have four-wheel drive, good for off-roading and driving in snow.

Today’s SUV deals, which include cash-back offers and special financing terms, have gotten fatter over the past several months as sales have continued to slide. In April, auto makers offered an average of $5,786 in discounts on midsize SUVs, according to the most recent data from Autodata, up from $4,909 a year earlier. On large SUVs, manufacturers offered an average of $4,829, up from $3,070.

Among the better deals are Ford’s flagship SUVs, the Expedition and the Explorer. An Expedition with four-wheel drive has a sticker price of about $35,000, but in many areas, consumers can drive one off the lot for around $30,000 after discounts and negotiations. The all-wheel-drive Explorer with V-8 engine, meanwhile, lists for about $31,000, but can be had these days for under $25,000.

GM, meanwhile, is offering $2,000 back or low financing rates on many of its SUVs. Chrysler LLC and Toyota Motor Corp. are offering discounts on SUVs, too. Great lease deals on SUVs are less common, though some can be found if you look. Leasing an SUV could be a winner if resale values continue to decline sharply, because you get to hand the vehicle back to the manufacturer at the end of the lease.



Fuel-thirsty SUVs have fallen out of style amid $4-a-gallon gas. But if driven sparingly, the hulky truck-based vehicles can be a good buy right now. Here are some deals manufacturers are offering on popular 2008 models:

Vehicle Discount Annual Percentage Rate on Loan
Ford Expedition $2500-$5000 0.0-3.9
Ford Explorer $2500-$4000 0.0-4.9
Lincoln MKX $1000-$2000 0.0-4.9
Lincoln Navigator $4000-$6000 0.0-1.9
Chevy Tahoe $2,000 2.9-6.9
Chevy Trailblazer $2,000 2.9-6.9
Chevy Suburban $2,000 2.9-6.9
GMC Yukon $2,000 2.9-6.9
Hummer H2 $4,000 5.9-6.9
Cadillac Escalade $2,000 5.9-7.9
Dodge Durango $3,750-$4,500 0.0-5.9
Jeep Grand Cherokee $2,500-$5,500 0.0-5.9
Toyota Sequoia $0-$2000 0.00
Honda Pilot none 0.9-2.9
Acura MDX none 0.9-2.9
Acura RDX none 0.9-2.9
Nissan Pathfinder $2,250-$3,250 1.9-4.9
BMW X5 none 2.9

Note: Deals may vary by region or vehicle style.


Peter Tse, the 46-year-old director of international sales for the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York, chose to lease when he got rid of his Mercedes ML350 SUV. He originally considered trading it in for a more-efficient car. But with a daughter heading to college this fall, he decided to lease a new BMW X5 instead, craving the extra packing space — even though the X5 takes premium fuel and doesn’t do better than about 18 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Still, it’s a bit better than the roughly 15 mpg on his 2003 Mercedes.

Mr. Tse’s new BMW is a so-called crossover, or SUV built on a car frame, as opposed to a truck frame. Sales of these vehicles have been rising but are starting to plateau. “We needed a car for the family,” says Mr. Tse, who lives on Long Island and is paying a little more than $600 a month for 36 months. “We decided we had to have the space regardless of the gas mileage.”

Some manufacturers are dangling more-unconventional offers. Chrysler is offering customers a promotion that locks in gas prices at $2.99 a gallon for three years, usually instead of its financing and cash-back offers. (Some vehicles offer the gas program and $3,000 in cash rebates.) Consumers use a special card linked to their credit card to take advantage, for up to 12,000 miles a year. In general, this deal makes sense only if gas prices stay high for several years. Still, people who crave an SUV but worry gas prices could shoot above $5 could take this promotion to sleep better at night.

Deals are even better for used vehicles. Average auction prices for used full-size SUVs in April plunged 17.5% from a year earlier to about $12,500, according to Manheim Consulting, which runs dealer auctions of used vehicles nationwide. In many cases, price tags on used SUVs are running as much as $6,000 below year-earlier amounts, dealers say.

The median age of Manheim’s auctioned SUVs is about four years old, with about 80,000 miles on them. Some dealers say wholesale auction prices are lower than they’ve ever seen. When buying a used SUV from a dealer, “you should probably not be paying much above the wholesale value,” says Tom Webb, Manheim’s chief economist. He adds that dealers are “anxious” to sell before the vehicles depreciate further.

The plummeting resale values have put many consumers underwater on SUV loans they signed a few years back, meaning they owe more than their vehicle is worth. Even so, recent energy price shocks have sent commuting SUV owners to trade in their vehicle for whatever they can get, dealers say. That’s adding to the glut of SUVs and further depressing prices.

Big discounts are less prevalent among foreign-brand SUVs. Some, such as the 2008 Toyota Sequoia and 2008 Honda Pilot, carry cut-rate financing or cash-back offers, but not all. Similarly, deals on luxury SUVs are easier to find among domestic brands than foreign ones. On the used market, wholesale luxury SUV prices overall are off 10% from a year ago.

Write to Mike Spector at mike.spector

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