Once the king of SUVs, Ford Explorer lightens up for 30% boost in mpg

Once the king of SUVs, Ford Explorer lightens up for 30% boost in mpg David Phillips Automotive News -- July 19, 2010 - 2:48 pm ET
DETROIT -- It's diet time for the once best-selling SUV in America.
The redesigned Ford Explorer has been slimmed down for 2011 and transferred to a car-based platform. And it no longer will be a gas-guzzling hulk with a V-8 under the hood.
Ford Motor Co. said today that the redesigned 2011 model -- equipped with an optional, two-liter EcoBoost I4 engine -- will achieve a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared with the current V-6-equipped Explorer. EcoBoost has delivered similar fuel economy gains in other cars and trucks.
The next Explorer will use the same platform as the new Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans and the Ford Flex crossover. The Explorer also will offer third-row seats as standard equipment.
Americans -- once in love with truck-based SUVs -- are now gravitating to crossovers that combine the roominess of SUVs with the nimbleness and fuel economy of cars and wagons.
The Explorer -- offering just the I4 and a 3.5-liter V-6 engine -- goes on sale this year. Both engines will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission for extra fuel economy.
The current Explorer equipped with two-wheel drive and a four-liter V-6 is rated at 14 mpg city/20 highway. With a 30 percent increase in fuel economy, the EcoBoost-equipped Explorer should deliver 18/26.
Ford engineers used lighter and stronger high-strength steels such as boron to add durability and reduce weight on the new Explorer. Other weight-saving moves include an aluminum hood and a one-piece composite front bolster -- the radiator support between engine and grille -- that is 65 percent lighter, Ford said.
"We believe we've hit the mark with the next-generation Explorer," Mark Fields, head of Ford's Americas unit, said in statement. "It has the potential to change perceptions of what a modern SUV is all about."
New engine controls, electric power-assisted steering, advanced battery management and what Ford calls aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff also will help reduce gas consumption.
Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100719/OEM03/100719852/1427
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"The new Ford Explorer is the best thing since sliced bread" - or something like that.
I have two questions:
1. Does it have a full-sized spare? Yes or no, not a sales pitch on how good the tires are.
2. Do the engines have timing belts, or timing chains?
Thanks.
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wrote:

I don't know for sure, but assume it will.

Chains.
Ed
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