Blue Oval's Fuel Efficient SUVs and Crossovers Aim High
The automotive industry as a whole has been moving away from traditional body-on-frame SUVs for fuel economy reasons. This is perfectly highlighted in Ford's current, and future, crossover and SUV lineup. Here's what to expect from the Blue Oval in the future:
Edge: Although Ford bills the 2011 Edge as a refresh, its revised exterior, interior, and powertrain lineup indicate more than that. The 2011 Edge, along with its Lincoln MKX cousin, is the first vehicle in Ford's lineup to receive Ford's MyFord Touch connectivity system. Ford has also significantly reworked the Edge's 3.5-liter V-6 for 2011 and introduced the 2.0-liter I-4 EcoBoost engine, as well as the Mustang's 3.7-liter V-6 as options.
No matter what Ford is calling the 2011 Edge, an all-new, smaller crossover is set to appear for the 2014 model year. The downsized Edge will ride on Ford's global, midsize platform.
EcoSport: Pending fuel economy regulations and fuel prices, Ford's next-generation EcoSport crossover for Brazil and may make its way Stateside. The EcoSport is based on the subcompact Fiesta platform, but has increased ride height and a body style closer to that of an SUV.
Escape: The next-generation Escape will be closely related to the European Kuga crossover, and is set to go on sale for the 2012 model year. The Escape, like the Edge, will be downsized, but will be based on Ford's global compact platform that also underpins the Focus. The next Escape, slated for sale possibly using the global Kuga name, will be manufactured in the U.S. at Ford's Louisville, Ky., plant.
Expedition: Little is known about planned changes for Ford's sole remaining body-on-frame SUV, save for interior upgrades that include a headrest-mounted rear entertainment system. The Expedition might get a slight exterior restyle for the 2012 model year and also revise the powertrain lineup. Ford's 3.5- or 3.7-liter V-6 engine may be added for better fuel economy, and the 5.0-liter V-8 from the Mustang may replace the aging 5.4-liter V-8.
A full redesign of the SUV has been put on hold, and the Expedition EL may be dropped for the 2012 or 2013 model year due to lackluster sales.
Explorer: Ford's bestselling SUV is all-new for 2011. It moves from a rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame SUV to the same front-wheel-drive, unibody platform that underpins the Taurus and Flex. The move, made in the name of modernity and fuel economy, signals the end of a V-8 option. Ford will, however, offer the EcoBoost I-4 as an option. Down the line, we anticipate Ford will offer a twin-turbocharged, EcoBoost V-6 with up to 400 horsepower.
Flex: Last year, Ford gave the Flex its twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6, but it may not remain the crossover's only turbocharged engine. Ford may fit the 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 under the Flex's hood for improved fuel economy. The crossover is set to get a refresh for the 2012 model year, and a total reskin for the 2013 model year.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)