Predicting continued growth in the SUV market – no big leap of faith required, there – Ford announced updates to its big Explorer SUVs tonight at the New York Auto Show. The 2018 Explorer Platinum and the 2018 Explorer Sport get some front and rear styling updates (four exhausts in the back, called "quad exhaust tips," for example) and tech and safety enhancements that Ford thinks buyers will want as the SUV market continues to grow in the coming years.
Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales, and service, Mark LaNeve, said at the event that the SUV segment has grown from 28 percent in 2006 to 40 percent in 2016 and Ford is predicting it will grow to 45 percent in the next five-to-seven years.
The main focus of the updates to the Explorer are in the tech side, with 4G modems that serve at WiFi hotspots for up to 10 devices at once. Yes, that's more devices than there are seats in the Explorer, so if you buy an Explorer, make sure to get your kids an extra iPad while you're at it. You didn't want to talk to them anyway, right?
A new Safe and Smart package on the '18 Explorer will give you things like cross-traffic alerts and lane-keep assist, blind-spot warnings, and adaptive cruise control. Instead of being offer à la carte as they are on the 2017 models.
The new Explorer is just one facet of Ford's big SUV push. As previously announced, Ford is going to introduce five new SUVs in North America by 2020, including the new Bronco, the 300-mile all-electric SUV, the EcoSport, and two others that have not yet been announced. The refreshed 2018 Explorer will come to Ford dealers this fall with three different powertrain options (a 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder, a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, and a second 3.5-liter, this one naturally aspirated).
Gallery: 2018 Ford Explorer
Ford Projects Continued SUV Growth, Announces Explorer Updates for 2018
Ford projects the SUV segment will continue growing, accounting for more than 45 percent of the non-premium U.S. retail industry in the next five to seven years
Ford is well-positioned for further SUV growth, with plans to add five all-new SUVs to its North American lineup by 2020
New 2018 Explorer strengthens Ford's most well-known SUV, giving customers upgraded style, technology improvements and more choice, including an available 4G modem with standard new Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices, plus SYNC® 3
NEW YORK, April 10, 2017 – Ford sees the SUV segment growing further – accounting for more than 45 percent of the non-premium U.S. retail auto industry in the next five to seven years. Ford is well-positioned for this growth, with plans to add five all-new SUVs to its lineup in North America by 2020.
Demographics are driving the anticipated trend, as more millennials and baby boomers favor the functionality and technology SUVs bring.
"In the 1990s, SUVs defined the unstoppable American spirit, and once again, we're seeing a utility boom take hold with a whole new generation of customers," said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. "Two sets of consumers – millennials and baby boomers – are driving this growth, and Ford will be ready with a full portfolio of SUVs to meet their needs."
Today, 35- to 44-year-olds buy more midsize and large SUVs than any other demographic – and even more millennials are expected to join this SUV-loving group as they age. Baby boomers – already buying nearly 30 percent of small SUVs – are expected to lean even more heavily into SUVs as they age, with the youngest in this group turning 53 years old this year.
Ford already has a full utility lineup – including the fun, capable and connected EcoSport, technology-packed Escape, stylish Edge crossover, all-new full-size Expedition that's the smartest, most adaptable and capable ever, and now, the new Explorer that's on its way.
For 2018, Explorer has been further upgraded, providing customers freshened front and rear styling details, even better technology and more choice.
Explorer offers an available 4G embedded modem that includes a Wi-Fi hotspot and supports as many as 10 devices at once – up to 50 feet away from the vehicle.
It also features SYNC Connect, which allows owners to connect with Explorer remotely using FordPass® to start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle from almost anywhere – while also allowing access to important vehicle diagnostic information.
This technology joins such existing features as enhanced active park assist, which uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel and perpendicular parking; park-out assist, which helps drivers pull out of parallel parking spots; and intelligent all-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™, which enables improved driving capability by sending power where needed.
For 2018, Explorer also offers a newly available Safe and Smart Package that combines high-demand driver-assist features for a great value. The package includes:
Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support uses radar to detect moving vehicles directly ahead, and changes cruising speed if necessary
Blind Spot Information System uses radar to trigger a warning when another motorist is in the driver's blind spot
Cross-traffic alert uses radar to help alert drivers to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space
Lane-keeping system automatically detects left- and right-hand road lane markings using front camera system. A vibration in the steering wheel alerts the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of its lane. System can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed
Auto high-beams use windshield-mounted cameras to automatically switch between high-beam and low-beam settings when oncoming traffic is detected
Drivers can opt for five different series featuring three different engines including a 2.3-liter EcoBoost® four-cylinder that delivers 280 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm. Explorer Sport and Platinum edition models are equipped with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 featuring new quad exhaust tips. The engine generates 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm.
Customers have more personalization options for 2018 with four new exterior color choices – Burgundy Velvet Tinted Clearcoat, Cinnamon Glaze, Platinum Dune Tricoat and Blue Metallic. Explorer gets five new wheel choices as well.
The 2018 Explorer arrives at dealerships this fall. It is built at Chicago Assembly Plant.