2006 Explorer"s adaptive"curl strap" that deforms as force isapplied, acting as a damper to slow-moving the punch of thesteering column.

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Bit Byte: Ford invested its development resources wisely; the 2006Explorer is a fantastic successor to America’s many popularSUV.By Thom CannellDetroit BureauSEE ALSO: brand-new Car Buyer"s overview for Ford

In August, TACH provided you with an thorough examination the virtuallyevery element of the all-new Ford traveler including version lineup,powertrain variations, options, and even shade schemes. That’severything, everything but a report that what it’s prefer to journey thisnew-for-2006 SUV. Will certainly this explorer live as much as its claims of superiority?Does the brand-new Explorer transcend vault versions and deliver value foryour difficult earned dollar. In one word, yes. In plenty of words…Road tripping the 2006 ExplorerWe flew to Lake Placid, new York, site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympicsand immediately spent 90 minutes driving 2005 traveler SUVs. 2005 Explorers drive well. Steering is light and direct, through plenty ofroad feel and also the Triton V-8 provides sufficient power for practically everyneed. The interior is additionally functionally designed, handsome, and also reasonablyquiet. What improvements would this new model bring? Pausing for technological briefings—the gory details are exhaustivelyreported in our earlier story—we built up pilot execution of the 2006Explorer and set out on nearly 300 mile of combined highway, secondary, andrutted two-track driving. Ford ceded the roughest “offroad” path in current memory, one that would certainly expose any type of faultsquicker than Tyra financial institutions sonogram. Immediately, my driving partner and I i found it the same of ourExplorer Limited’s cabin come the new F150. It has a comparable centerconsole, console-mounted shifter, and also dashboard. The dash has actually the samevertically flanked sides as F150 and comparable instrument panel opening.Explorer provides twin one gauges, large and white faced, with straightforward toread numerals. Missing are the trucks’ diverted gauges; traveler hasonly integrated fuel and water temperature with warning lights because that otherfunctions. Us appreciated the steering wheel-mounted controls for cruise control,temperature, and also audio (6-CD/AM/FM.) Our restricted was fitted withadjustable pedals, a DVD-based navigating system, and had“wooden” accents. Because that a faux-finish, the wood is quiteconvincing, also in direct sunlight. When underway, this traveler was quiet together a deserted campground —quieter than the 2005 model and also most sedans. Over there are several reasons,including denser carpeting v an improved backing that’s 13fuel-saving pounds lighter. (Beneath most automotive carpets is a dense,black asphalt-like sound absorb material, and cotton padding.) Behind door panels and also dash is an additional sound absorber that resembles thinblack fiberglass insulation, and also a comparable sound dampener is sandwichedbetween roof and headliner. Therefore Ford’s insurance claim of unequalled quiet forfront seat passengers ring true. No issue how bad the road surface, andwe’re talking around 50 mph over ruts, gravel and rocks, the interiorremained luxury-car quiet. In ~ 75 mph top top the highway, this SUV to be quieterthan a Jaguar X-type! Ford additionally promises that third-seat passengers have actually an environment quieterthan many competitors’ prior seats. In various other words, it will certainly be easierthan ever before to hear “Are we There Yet?” traveler uses a clean-burning 210 speech 4.0-liter V6 or a morepowerful 292 horsepower 4.6-liter V8. The V6 mates to a five-speedautomatic while the V8 receive an all-new six-speed automatic. Eitherpowertrain supplies a 3.55:1 final drive and also towing strength is dong 5390lbs./7300 lbs. Explorer’s frame, including the distinct “porthole”independent rear suspension presented on previous Explorers, is all-new.A usual truck chassis each other a ladder through a crate or 3 on optimal andmost full-sized SUVs and also medium and also full size pickups use thisbody-on-frame construction. Through welding every rung in the ladder to, andthrough that is box-section structure rails, Ford achieves considerably improvedstrength. The freedom to optimize body and chassis separately givesengineers maximum architecture flexibility. Because that instance, to have a level rearload floor plus fairly wide 3rd row seats, Ford increases thevertical elevation of a part of the rear frame tube, punches a hole throughand filling it v a welded-in steel tube. The axle shafts go through thisopening; it enables the independent behind axles to move up and also down. Yet what walk that average to you? Isolating the frame from the body onnatural and also synthetic rubber cushions helps quietness. A stiff frame letsengineers choose the best spring price for controlling body motion, the best“shock absorber” rate, and also pick tires designed because that a mix ofcomfort and also precision. For the driver, the result is steering precision,directional stability, and also comfort. Top top the day us drove the roads about Lake Placid, bikers and runners weretraining for an Ironman Triathlon; Ford is the location sponsor. I lost countof the time a biker would appear around a remote corner. Maneuverability,braking, and directional stability were essential to stop the brightlyclad participants. That in reality made driving more fun. As the roads ended up being rougher—secondary paved roads, gravel ruralroads, and finally miles and miles the two-track—it didn’t getmuch louder within the cabin. Mind you, we were traveling at end 30 mphand kicking increase gravel and also bouncing about on stones that varied from golfballs to the occasional bowling ball-sized rock. Ford’s efforts to stand up to head toss, an aptly descriptive term, madeour rough roadway driving a comfortable experience. In much less sophisticatedSUVs your head is tossed around like pins at a bowling alley. Explorerexhibits a really minimal amount. Fords endeavor into electronic mapping and also navigation presented a mixedblessing throughout our trip. Roadways are shown as colored spaghettistrands, i beg your pardon was kind of hard to follow. Other navigating systems usemuch thicker depictions at the very same scale. However, atopExplorer’s screen is the surname of the road traveled, also dirttwo-tracks had names. For this reason we constantly knew we were on, or off, the plannedroute. Add to it would certainly announce upcoming transforms by name. Not just“right” yet “right ~ above McGregor Avenue.” Musically, the stereo /DVD entertainment center is impressive. Go yoursound system permit three audio sources: front passenger listening come theradio, 2nd row guests headphone-connected come a movie, and the children inback listening to a CD? I had one small complaint, the steering feeling a bit too compliant. That is,a tiny bit soft when directions change. We uncovered this was likely dueto my aggressive driving and also the 18” Michelin tires (P235/65R18) and18 x 7.5 in. Wheels liked for grip and also ride quality. Some of thatquietness and comfort to represent a compromise. If you favor the steeringprecision explorer has constantly exhibited, the 17” BFG tire(P245/65R17) is specified for industries where the automobile is pushed at 80+MPH speed on turbulent roads. “Tires do a difference,” said Chris Brewer, ExplorerEngineering Manager stated to me. “Some offer much more ride compliance; noteveryone wants to go approximately every rotate at double the suggested speed.”Guilty together charged, Chris. SafetyExplorer engineers and designers space justifiably proud of its advancedsafety features. Beyond familiar ABS and four-wheel bowl brakes, dual-stagefront air bags, driver seat place sensor, pre-tensioning chair belts, andcrumple zones designed to crush and absorb energy, are brand-new features thatrequire explanation. chair belts now adapt to occupant size and also crash severity, castle allowtension, then minimal forward motion. Front seat recognize five categoriesof passenger: none, child, small adult, tool adult, large adult. Thisinformation is part of the adaptive chair belts, and instructs dual-stageairbags just how much cushion is essential (the passenger’s airbag has actually afabric tether that deserve to keep the airbag tiny when needed.) Airbags alsoincorporate adaptive venting to readjust the size and deflation of eachairbag. The “Adaptive Stroking Steering Column” is an extremely cool, and also morethan a small weird. The photograph shows 3 possibilities because that this device,which permits the steering wheel to move forward as much as 4” (100mm) come absorb crash energy. Through deforming as energy is soaked up (your bodypushing into the airbag and also steering column—like a stunt male fallingonto a stack of cardboard boxes,) the “curl strap” acts together aforce absorber. Smaller sized adults, females in particular, space apt come be sit closer to thesteering wheel, for this reason less pressure absorption is needed. Because that unbelteddrivers—you constantly buckle up, right?—the steering tower wouldnot move to save the waiting bag nearer your chest. If belted, the Stoking Steering Column can move away and allow the seatbelt and air bag to offer protection. If it sound complex, the is. In fact,with twin stage waiting bags, the really shape that the air bag can be readjusted tooffer the type of power absorption necessary. Most chauffeurs are familiar with electronic stability controls that measurerotational forces. Ford phone call theirs AdvanceTrac™ and also it make the efforts toprevent oversteer and understeer, referred to as yaw or rotation. Together SUVs have ahigher facility of gravity, Ford uses Roll Stability manage thatanticipates and also tries come overcome events that indicate impending rollover.If you’re having actually trouble, think of a roller skate: press sidewaysagainst the rear wheels. That slide parallel to the floor is oversteer.Push perpendicular come the prior wheels and also it’s understeer. However pushthe peak of the skate boot to do it fall over—that’s the rollangle RSC measures. As nothing can prevent part rollovers, Ford was among the first SUVs witha complete length curtain waiting bag—Safety Canopy™—forroll-over and some side impact events. Because that 2006 it’s enhanced withwider and taller inflation zones, and if a passenger is resting their wearyhead versus a window, the “roll-fold” an innovation will slidebetween head and also glass. Because that 2006 over there are additionally side-impact wait bags forfront seats. Because that aggressive drivers, or those who routinely drive on dirt, Explorerallows part wheel slip, some body motion, but not too much. As soon as drivingquickly on loose gravel, the rear end can and also will oversteer a little beforethe mechanism is triggered. That’s nice because some slip is, and also feelsnatural, if an end zealous stability manage system will certainly kick in tooaggressively, i m sorry is an extremely disconcerting. When you drive an explorer you’ll agree the Ford spent itsdevelopment sources wisely; the 2006 traveler is a wonderful successor toAmerica’s most famous SUV. That is a go-anywhere vehicle with a livingroom-quiet environment much more elegantly perfect than many homes. Regardless of rising gasoline prices, explorer makes feeling for families andpeople who need comfortable seating for 2-8 people—no one rather offersa power folding 3rd row seat—and the capacity to tow a an extremely sizeableboat or trailer. Perhaps many importantly, none of its fun to driveanywhere, any type of time, spirit has been lost.

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That has improved, also asExplorer came to be safer and more trustworthy.