Ford has unveiled the redesigned 2011 Explorer. It's lighter, more fuel efficient, and a lot less interesting.

After numerous spy shots and a long teaser campaign, Ford has officially unveiled the 2011 Explorer.

Looking like a Taurus-ifed Freestyle, the Explorer features a bold grille, black A-pillars, plastic body cladding, and a clamshell hood. Inside, the cabin boasts a Volkswagen-ish design, a console-mounted shifter, and seating for up to seven.

Under the hood, two different engines are offered. The base unit is a 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 with 290 hp (216 kW / 294 PS) and 255 lb-ft (345 Nm) of torque, which "is projected to deliver more than 20 percent better fuel economy versus the previous Explorer V6 model." Next up, oddly enough, is the weaker 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 237 hp (177 kW / 240 PS) and 250 lb-ft (339 Nm) of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard and an intelligent 4WD system is optional. The latter features terrain management (with four modes: snow, sand, mud and normal) and hill descent control.

Despite riding on a car-based platform, the 2011 Explorer is only 100 pounds (45 kg) lighter than the outgoing model - even though it uses "lighter materials such as an aluminum hood." Thankfully, the Explorer still has some capability as V6 models are able to tow up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg).

In terms of safety, the Explorer features inflatable seatbelts, Curve Control, side curtain airbags, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). If that isn't impressive enough, customers can order adaptive cruise control (with collision warning and brake support), BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert, and active park assist.

Three different trim levels will be offered: base, XLT and Limited. The base model has a 4.2-inch LCD screen, cruise control, power windows / locks, and a tilt / telescoping steering column. Moving up the XLT adds automatic headlamps, heated sideview mirrors (with integrated LED turn signals), a reverse sensing system, and a perimeter alarm. The range topping Limit boasts ambient lighting, adjustable pedals, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, remote start, and a push button ignition.

According to Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development, "The new Explorer simply does everything well. It raises the bar for ride and handling on the road and transforms the off-road experience. It's the hands-down winner for towing capability and ease. All this capability - and three rows of seating - with amazing fuel economy will make Explorer the absolute right choice for families with a sense of adventure."

Look for the 2011 Explorer to start arriving at dealerships sometime this winter.

Check out the press release for additional information

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