It's looking like the 2011 Ford Explorer will be produced at the same Chicago factory that assembles the Ford Taurus X. This has fueled speculation that the next-gen Explorer will abandon the current vehicle's truck chassis in favor of a lighter car-based architecture.
Ford has indeed confirmed that its Torrence Avenue assembly plant, in Chicago, will be making a new vehicle, though they haven't confirmed just what that vehicle will be. A deal with the UAW further points to all this speculation proving true. Finally, it is known that the Taurus X will soon cease to be produced; the more appealing and modern Ford Flex will take its place in Ford's lineup.
2008 Ford Explorer America ConceptEnlarge Photo
Speculation also points to two powertrains for the 2011 Explorer; a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost engine and an optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. These were the engines powering last year's Ford Explorer America concept pictured above. The four is said to deliver approximately 275 hp and 280 lb-ft torque and the 3.5-liter is slated for about 340 hp according to Chicago Breaking News.
Both platform and powertrain decisions for the 2011 Ford Explorer sound like smart moves in a market that's rapidly abandoning heavy, inefficient SUVs. We just hope the new powertrains, especially the 2.0-liter EcoBoost, focus on low-end torque production. GM abandoned its torque-rich 4.3-liter V-6 when the S-10 Blazer became the TrailBlazer, and the inline six that replaced it felt rather gutless down low where most drivers really needed it.