Ford To Unveil Fuel-Efficient Explorer

Automaker Ford is unveiling Monday its new Ford Explorer. For years, the Explorer was the most popular SUV on the road, but fell out of favor when gas prices spiked.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Today the Ford Motor Company unveils its new Ford Explorer SUV with splashy celebrations in several cities.

As Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports, Ford is hoping its reinvented Explorer can bust some myths about SUVs.

TRACY SAMILTON: SUVs are gas guzzlers, right? Not anymore, says Ford. The new Explorer, with an EcoBoost engine, is 30 percent more fuel efficient than the old Explorer. That's about 19 miles per gallon, city, 24 or more, highway.

Independent auto expert Csaba Csere says that's actually pretty impressive.

Mr. CSABA CSERE (Auto Expert): It's still going to be a pretty big SUV with three rows of seats and lots of carrying capacity.

SAMILTON: All that and it can haul a pretty good sized boat, too. Ford hopes the better gas mileage will get people to look at the Explorer again. It was the most popular passenger vehicle in the United States 10 years ago. Last year, sales had fallen to just 52,000.

Rebecca Lindland is an analyst with IHS Automotive. She says Ford doesn't want to force people to choose between all around usefulness and fuel efficiency.

Ms. REBECCA LINDLAND (Analyst, IHS Automotive): You can actually potentially move up the size and still get about the same fuel economy as you did in your smaller SUV or crossover.

SAMILTON: Of course, the Explorer can't compete with some new small cars, like Ford's Fiesta and GMs Cruze Eco, both of which gets 40 miles per gallon. Just don't try hauling a big boat with one.

For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton in Ann Arbor.

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