If the idea of a fuel-efficient SUV appeals to you, Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder powered Explorer may be just what you’ve been looking for. Around town, the 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost will return 20 mpg, which is 3 mpg better than the 3.5-liter V-6 Explorer. On the highway, the Explorer EcoBoost will deliver 28 mpg, also three more than the 3.5-liter V-6 version.
Power won’t be lacking, either, since the EcoBoost engine cranks out a respectable 240 horsepower, but an even better 270 lb-ft of torque. That’s 15 lb-ft more torque than the Explorer’s standard 3.5-liter V-6, and the EcoBoost engine delivers peak torque at just 3,300 rpm. We haven’t driven the Explorer EcoBoost yet, but we expect it will drive very much like a V-6 (just as Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 drives very much like a V-8).
Prices for the 2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost models will start at $29,990 for a base trim version, and will hit $39,560 for an Explorer EcoBoost in Limited trim. Opt for the mid-range Explorer EcoBoost XLT, and the price of admission starts at $33,800. All list prices quoted include a destination charge of $825.
As you’d expect, there’s a downside to the EcoBoost Explorer range. All-wheel drive isn’t available on EcoBoost models, which come driving the front wheels only. Towing capacity is significantly reduced, too: a V-6-powered Explorer can haul up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, but an EcoBoost-powered Explorer can’t tow more than 2,000 pounds.
The success of the Explorer EcoBoost depends on whether customers shop the Explorer for their actual needs or for their perceived needs. The FWD Explorer EcoBoost is more than up to the day-to-day chores of the modern family, but it won’t seduce you into thinking you can take on off-road challenges, or drive to your mountain retreat in any weather.
Will practicality outsell capability? We suppose that depends upon gas prices.