- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whether hauling mountain bikes through mud ruts or groceries and kids through rush hour traffic, the new 2011 Ford Explorer will adapt to peoples’ lives more than ever - building on the capability, flexibility and utility that made it America’s favorite SUV for two decades.

The redesigned Explorer, which arrives later this year, will deliver more adaptability than ever before - from adjustable creature comforts like a four-way head restraint to responsive driver-assist and safety technologies such as terrain management system and Curve Control.

“The Explorer has always been about maximum adaptability, but it’s not just about off-road capability, flexible cargo space and seating configurations anymore,” said Amy Marentic, group marketing manager, Ford cars and CUVs. “With the new Explorer, we’ve redefined what adaptability means by expanding the user’s ability to adjust vehicle features and functions. At the same time we are offering innovative technologies that can allow the Explorer to automatically adjust to driving conditions if needed”

One of the new Explorer’s flexible features is a new four-way head restraint designed to provide protection for occupants with more adjustable comfort than industry standard two-way restraints.

The four-way head restraint offers increased flexibility over the two-way head restraints that proliferate in the industry. The four-way system moves up and down, as well as forward and backward using a manually operated ratcheting system that allows 12 positions to increase occupant comfort while helping to provide occupant injury protection in rear impacts.

“A well-positioned head restraint is important because it helps keep the occupant’s head and neck aligned with their torso and may reduce the risk of whiplash injury,” said Agnes Kim, Ford senior technical specialist. “Our four-way system is designed to provide protection while offering more flexibility so drivers can find more comfortable driving positions.”

Ford recommends properly adjusting the head restraint so that the top of the head restraint is even with the top of one’s head and positioned as close as possible to the back of one’s head. For occupants of extremely tall stature, the head restraint should be adjusted to its full up position. Approximately 80 percent of all passenger vehicles in the United States have adjustable head restraints, yet studies indicate less than 10 percent of occupants adjust them properly.

Two other Explorer features that should be adjusted before hitting the road are the adjustable brake and accelerator pedals and tilt/telescoping steering wheel that allow drivers of different statures to position these controls at a comfortable distance closer or farther away from them.

While the new Explorer’s driver and passengers can easily adjust interior features to their liking, the Explorer seamlessly adjusts to external driving conditions. Two new-for-2011 technologies that perform in this adaptable manner are Curve Control Hill and a terrain management system.

Curve Control, which makes its debut on the Explorer, senses when a driver is taking a curve too quickly and rapidly reduces engine torque and can apply four-wheel braking, slowing the vehicle by up to 10 mph in about one second. The system can be useful when drivers are entering or exiting freeway on- or off-ramps with too much speed.

The new Explorer gets adventurous by offering Ford’s first intelligent four-wheel-drive (4WD) control system that optimizes vehicle capability by integrating powertrain and braking controls to provide appropriate traction for any driving conditions. Terrain management is activated by a console-mounted, switchable knob, enabling 4WD control through an intuitive choice of settings that eliminates guesswork with simple icons that represent the climate or surface situation drivers may encounter.

“The Explorer’s terrain management system and Curve Control are predictive technologies that are designed to work with the driver to respond to varying road conditions or potential hazards,” said Jim Holland, Explorer chief nameplate engineer. “They help the Explorer and its driver adapt to changing conditions.”

Explorer drivers will be able to adjust the ambience of their vehicles in several ways. First they can personalize the interior by selecting from a spectrum of seven different ambient lighting colors, for the gauge cluster, foot wells, cup holders, door map pockets and rear foot wells. Drivers and passengers also can get comfortable with the Explorer’s dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control.