From the “Water is Wet/Pope is Catholic” file, Ford says to expect continued growth in SUV sales. They also announced what the updates for the Ford Explorer will be in 2018, but first let’s talk about these sales projections. Look, every company on the planet says the future looks great. We’re going to be making money by the train car load next fiscal year, yadda-yadda-yadda.
But in Ford’s case, they might be right.
For starters, check this out: According to Ford, not only will the SUV segment continue to grow, but it will actually account for more than 45 percent of the non-premium U.S. retail industry in the next five to seven years. 45 percent. That’s nearly half of the non-premium (i.e. rich folks cars) segment being populated by truck like SUV things.
It seems this trend, as 90% of the trends these days, is being driven by millennials. 35- to 44-year-olds buy more mid and large SUVs than any other given demographic, and millennials are anticipated to join this SUV-loving group even more as they age. Baby boomers (the first Millennials in a way, if you care to think about it) are already buying nearly 30 percent of small SUVs as is. And boomers are projected to lean even more heavily into SUVs as they march on up the population pyramid. Even Generation X is getting in on the SUV action.
These numbers make Ford happy. They already sell a ton of trucks and SUVs, so a bigger pie means more sales for Ford. Dearborn is so psyched about what lies ahead for SUVs, they have plans to add five all-new ones to their North American lineup by 2020.
Ford is planning on the upcoming 2018 Explorer to champion this segue into even more SUVs on the road. The 2018 Explorer has a freshened front, new rear styling details, and even better technology. So the transitional model year gets slathered in tech goodies and gee-gaws such as an available 4G modem with a new standard Wi-Fi hotspot for up to ten devices, plus Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system.
SYNC Connect also allows owners to “connect” with the Explorer remotely using FordPass. Drivers can start, lock, unlock, and locate their vehicle from almost anywhere. I know that sounds superfluous in a lot of ways, but consider living in up-state New York or Mobile, Alabama. Sounds like being able to fire up your Explorer and get the interior heated in February or chilled in August via your smartphone is a good idea, no? Oh, and FordPass also stores important vehicle diagnostic information which is also handy.
All of this stuff on the 2018 Explorer joins existing high tech perks such as enhanced active park assist and electric power-assisted steering. These features help drivers with parallel and perpendicular parking but there is also park-out assist, which helps drivers pull out of parallel parking spots; and intelligent all-wheel drive with a Terrain Management System that sends power where needed. And yeah, I don’t know why on Earth you’d need something to help you pull out of parallel parking spots (isn’t that just reverse gear?) but hey, the new Explorer’s got it.
Safety tidbits? Oh my yes!
Safety & Security
The 2018 Ford Explorer offers a newly available Safe and Smart Package that combines a whole bunch of stuff you should be able to do for yourself, but Americans seem to thrive on having these days. There is adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support that uses the onboard radar to sense any moving vehicles immediately ahead, and change cruising speed if necessary. A Blind Spot Information System also uses radar to trigger a warning when another vehicle is in your blind spot. Cross-traffic alert is almost the same thing as the blind spot deal. It also uses radar to alert you to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space.
The lane-keeping system automatically detects left- and right-hand lane markers using the front camera system. A vibration in the steering wheel alerts the driver if the vehicle begins to drift out of their lane. The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed. I’m sorry, but isn’t that what the Bott’s dots on the highway are already there for? How many warnings do you need?
In a blast from the past, the 2018 Ford Explorer also has auto high-beams. It uses windshield-mounted cameras to automatically switch between high and low beams when oncoming traffic is detected. Which is cool and all that, but I remember my grandfather’s 1970s era Caddy having the same thing, so yay for automatically not blinding oncoming traffic, but this ain’t exactly new.
Power & Performance
You get your choice of three different engines with the 2018 Explorer: the 2.3-liter, 280 horsepower EcoBoost four-cylinder with 310 lb-ft. of torque, or the 365 horsepower 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 with 350 lb-ft of torque. The latter is for the Explorer Sport and Platinum which have new quad exhaust tips. For some reason Ford doesn’t say what the third engine choice is. I’m sincerely hoping it’s a secret quad turbo V16 plant cranking out over 2,000 horsepower at the wheels.
I also sincerely hope that Angelina Jolie left Brad Pitt because she could sense my raw masculine sexuality, but somehow I feel that isn’t true either.
Exterior Colors & Availability
And not to leave out the truly goofy options, customers have four new exterior color choices with the 2018 Ford Explorer: Burgundy Velvet Tinted Clearcoat, Cinnamon Glaze, Platinum Dune Tricoat, and Blue Metallic. What is goofy there is, of course, the “Cinnamon Glaze” option. Dunno, maybe Ford is going for the off-duty cop market or the Cinnabon manager market but Cinnamon Glaze, really?
The built at Chicago Assembly Plant 2018 Ford Explorer arrives at dealerships this fall.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.