2011 Ford Explorer
Families looking for the most fuel-efficient SUV that seats seven passengers should take a look at the 2011 Ford Explorer with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.
Thanks to turbocharging and direct fuel injection, the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine manages to achieve class-leading 28 mpg highway fuel economy.
While 28 mpg in the highway cycle may not seem astounding when 40 mpg highway or higher numbers are touted for family sedans such as the Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Cruze, mid-size and compact, respectively, it is the best in the class of full-size, seven-passenger SUVs, says Ford. EPA-rated city fuel economy for the Explorer with the EcoBoost engine is 20 mpg.
But compare the Explorer’s fuel efficiency with that of the 2011 Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevrolet Traverse, and the numbers do seem impressive. The EcoBoost-equipped Explorer’s fuel economy is 20 percent better than the Honda Pilot’s, a gain of 3 mpg, and 12 percent better than the Toyota Highlander, also a 3 mpg gain. Compared to the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevy Traverse, the EcoBoost-equipped Explorer has an advantage of 3 mpg and 4 mpg, respectively.
Ford says customers are buying well-equipped and range-topping models – XLT and Limited – and more than 50 percent of early 2011 Explorer buyers say that fuel efficiency was their primary motivator. But power is also plentiful, with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost delivering 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
The Dearborn, Michigan automaker plans to offer EcoBoost engines on 90 percent of its vehicles – cars, trucks, SUVs, and CUVs -- by 2013.
FamilyCarGuide rates the 2011 Ford Explorer a 9 out of 10. See our review here.