• Feb 8, 2011
2011 Ford Explorer - Click above for high-res image gallery

According to Bloomberg, the Ford Explorer can thank Alan Mulally for its stay of execution. When the former Boeing executive took the helm at FoMoCo, the powers that be urged him to make a decision on the then-ancient SUV. Mulally said that the nameplate could live on, but only if the company's engineers could find a way to seriously cut weight and increase fuel economy at the same time. The new vehicle was not only able to meet those demands, but was able to offer a larger package with much of the same off-road ability as well.

That meant sacrificing the body-on-frame blue print for a unibody design and exploring alternative engine solutions – engines like the upcoming Ecoboost four-cylinder. In the end, the Blue Oval boys were able to shed 100 pounds off the platform.

Ford has since interpreted that same quest for svelteness into a company-wide strategy, and Bloomberg says that the Dearborn automaker is now on par with automakers like BMW when it comes down to aggressively stripping weight from a vehicle. You can read the full story on how Mulally's obsession with reducing weight changed Ford for the better here. Thanks for the tip, Andrew!



Photos copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: Bloomberg]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 54 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Light? It's almost 5000# curb weight during a recent test.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I need to start a petition to get Mr. Mulally to LOTUS before is too late...
      • 3 Years Ago
      Do exercise daily, don't worry on weight lose much , Weight loss will happen over some time.

      RWD to FWD change and BOF to unibody its self should save more than 200 pounds. How and Where they managed to add the 100 pounds ??
      • 3 Years Ago
      As much as I applaud Ford for making the Explorer more appealing to the average buyer, part of me really wishes it went the other way....becoming a more rough and tuble focused vehicle. Ford doesn't really have a truly off-road capable vehicle right now. The Ranger is going away, so that kills that. The Expedition offers some good features, but it has an independent suspension all around and it's really too big/heavy. The F150, while great in Raptor form for baja type stuff, is simply too large (especially in width) and heavy to truly be a good technical off-roader. The one exception might be a regular cab/short bed F150 with the offroad package, but then it only fits 2.5 people and it's still a wide truck.

      I wish they had turned the Explorer into something more along the lines of the 4Runner, Grand Cherokee, Hummer H3 (with less gaudy/goofy), Wrangler Unlimited, ect. A reasonably sized, 4-door, truly off-road capable SUV. Especially because they already have so many CUVs in their lineup.

      While I definitely understand why they went the way they did, the part of me that's an suv/truck/off-road enthusiast really wishes I could still buy a good true SUV from Ford. Something maybe akin to the original Bronco, but with 4-doors to make it more practical.

      O well, I guess I can dream.
        tipdrip215
        • 3 Years Ago
        There are rumors about a new Bronco, but this is coming from the same company who wants the Fiesta to be one of the cars to snatch up former Ranger buyers. Probably the same watered down crap as the new Flexplorer.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That weight gain is not impressive.

      I'm apart of a Formula SAE design team and we have dropped 50lbs from our previous 475lb car. Not trying to brag, but that is not the easiest thing in the world to do, especially on a budget that is less than 40k...

      Step it up Ford.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Should all car companies be ran by ex-aircraft execs? Probably so.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Exactly what I was thinking. Since weight reduction is the biggest part of launching a new aircraft.

        What makes this amazing is that the new Explorer is far larger inside than the old one including an extra row of seats and way more gadgets and gear. I do hope however that they don't go cutting sound insulation.
          tipdrip215
          • 3 Years Ago
          The Explorer has actually been offering 3 rows since 2002, when it saw its last major redesign and switched to the independent rear suspension.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I know BMW used to be known for light weight cars but is that still true? It seems that this story is another case of feeding/giving the media its steady dose of soundbite/headline news.
      • 3 Years Ago
      you just named one culprit...now drive both side by side and you will understand what I am saying...the Fiesta is tomb quiet in comparison....
        • 3 Years Ago
        apologies, reply is on the blink Autoblog style...the comment was dorected at Spincycle touting praises to the Mazda 2 in comparison with the Fiesta...
        • 3 Years Ago
        spincycle is certified Ford-basher, some things will never change
      • 3 Years Ago
      As the story stated the use of lighter, yet stronger steels were one factor Ford used in making the vehicle lighter. It was not from removing insulation, as it is it's been benchmarked as the quiestest vehicle in it's class. Businessweek had a long article on how this was accomplished, very well done.
      • 3 Years Ago
      But Ford isn't the industry leader in lightness. Yeah, the Explorer went on a diet, but the Taurus is enormous and heavy and with the AWD setup it's likely the heaviest it has ever been.

      Mazda's Mazda2, a near twin to the Fiesta, is between 150 and 250 lbs lighter than Ford's Fiesta.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I guess if I had to pick someone, I'd pick Audi. Although that's a bit unfair because Audi is just working their way back to being light, while several Japanese makes just never got heavy (well, not in most of their models). Audi pulled almost 200lbs out of the TT, and percentage-wise that's a lot higher than this 100lbs off the Explorer.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I take half the extra weight on the Fiesta would be the Sync system(not offered on the 2), I like the looks of the Mazda 2 better, but its the niceties of the Fiesta that would sway me over to that.
        • 3 Years Ago
        who is? and at what compromise, safety, Noise insulation or expected commodities
      • 3 Years Ago
      wish they would do the same diet with the Mustang.... just to shred the Camaro/Challenger number even more. or if they ever have plans for full independant suspension
        • 3 Years Ago
        shhhh, its coming...expect exstensive use of "nano" steel....remeber theres a HUGE anniversary coming up and the game is about to be turned on its ear.....
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dakota: My point was this car has no relation other then name to the old Explorer.

      It IS the third Iteration of the Freestyle. Freestyle > Taurus X > Explorer

      2006 Freestyle AWD: Curb weight: 4,112 lbs
      2011 Explorer AWD: Curb weight: 4,695 lbs

      Seems like the Freestyle 3.0 gained weight
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