Ford will offer a 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 engine (earlier post) version of the 2011 Ford Explorer SUV, achieving at least a 30% increase in fuel efficiency with comparable power compared with the current V-6-powered Explorer. (Earlier post.) The 2010 Ford Explorer 2WD with a 4.0L V6 is EPA-rated at 14 mpg US city, 20 mpg US highway and 16 mpg US (14.7 L/100km) combined.

Overall vehicle weight in the 2011 Explorer is reduced compared to the previous model. Extensive use of lighter and stronger high-strength steels such as boron add durability while saving weight. An aluminum hood is used, while a one-piece composite front bolster—the radiator support between engine and grille—is 65% lighter.

Electric power-assisted steering, battery management, fast engine warm-up and aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff all combine to improve drive dynamics and save fuel. Explorer also features the first North American Ford application of a variable-displacement air conditioning compressor that reduces parasitic engine drag.

Designers and aerodynamicists collaborated to reshape sideview mirrors and harmonize the front air dam with the rear liftgate spoiler to significantly increase fuel efficiency on the highway. Reduced wind noise at speed is an incremental benefit.

The EcoBoost I-4 pairs a turbocharger with direct gasoline injection to provide SUV buyers with projected class-leading fuel economy, pending EPA certification, Ford said.

US sales of the Ford Explorer are up 30.9% by volume for the first half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009, climbing from 24,334 units to 31,864 units.