Ford has posted several teaser images of the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer on its Facebook page. While intentionally not the most revealing set of sneak peeks, they provide the clearest visual clues yet about the fifth generation of the automaker's mid-size SUV, which will move from body-on-frame to full unitized construction using platform architecture it shares with the Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans.
Although specifics are still pretty limited, expect the new Explorer to have a more sophisticated look and feel than its predecessor and be available in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations. Engine choices will include both an EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder and a naturally aspirated V6, although at some point, it too, may be joined by an EcoBoosted variant. All versions of the new Explorer will be fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission. These new Explorer powertrains are expected to yield significant increases in fuel economy -- up to a 25 percent gain in the case of the V6.
Although it will embrace a more car-like character, the 2011 Ford Explorer will still retain a solid measure of off-road capability. It will have more ground clearance than the Flex and offer Ford's new Terrain Management System on four-wheel-drive models. Similar to the setup originated on Land Rover, this multi-mode/multi-surface traction optimizer will be far more intuitive to use and far more efficient than the current Explorer system.