Ford's earned some wide green stripes in the past few years with its Fusion Hybrid sedan and the Fiesta fuel-miser hatchback.
With the Explorer, it's going to grab more green, since the new ute has made a sea-change, with smaller-displacement engines and turbocharging taking the place of big, old, inefficient V-8 engines.
The only engine available with the Explorer as of yet is the 3.5-liter V-6. The EPA hasn't yet confirmed its ratings, but Ford says it's looking at fuel-economy scores of 17/25 mpg, with all-wheel-drive versions likely to drop a mile or two per gallon from that figure. On a long day trip in a loaded Explorer XLT AWD, we netted a nice, round 20 mpg. Ford says numbers like those are a 25-percent improvement over the previous Explorer's base V-6, while the actual street performance feels as good as the outgoing V-8. Those numbers also are a bit better than the Flex's 17/24 mpg, and a boost over the Grand Cherokee V-6's 16/23 mpg.
Ford's prepping a 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for this new Explorer, and it's claiming fuel-economy improvements of 32 percent for that powerplant. We weren't able to drive it--it's not available until mid-2011.