Last summer, during a preview of what was coming from Ford in 2010, the company officially announced that a 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder Ecoboost engine would debut this year. Unfortunately, that's about all we were told at that time. Like the 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost, the four will be direct injected and turbocharged. We expect it will be rated somewhere in the 230-250 horsepower range, similar to a 3.0-liter naturally aspirated V6.

At a pre-Detroit Auto Show preview Friday morning, the 2.0-liter Ecoboost was again shown on a list of nine new engines that will debut this year, along with a new six-speed automatic for transverse applications. When asked, Ford officials told us that they were not ready to announce the product that the engine would go into. However, when we asked if it would be the new unibody Explorer, they smiled and repeated, "we're not ready to announce that yet."

Since the new Explorer is expected to be based on a platform derived from the Flex, it would make perfect sense to use this engine with the corresponding transmission. We're also expecting the 3.5-liter Ecoboost that is already available in the Flex and other models to be the optional engine, potentially giving the Explorer an all-Ecoboost lineup.

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[Images: Ford, KGP Photography]