Signaling a shift away from traditional body-on-frame SUVs and a growing interest in crossovers, and likely in response to recently-passed fuel economy legislation, Ford just unveiled its Explorer America concept.
The concept represents a radical departure from the current rear-drive, body-on-frame Explorer with a unibody chassis, and turbocharged four and six-cylinder powerplants in contrast to the current Explorer's normally-aspirated V6 and V8 engines.
But Ford is claiming its next-generation direct-injected, turbocharged engines, dubbed "EcoBoost" will provide 20 to 30-percent better fuel economy than larger, normally-aspirated engines with equivalent power outputs. Indeed, tentative figures released for the 2.0L four-cylinder EcoBoost engine are 275 horsepower and 280 lb./ft. of torque, greater power and torque output than the current Explorer's 4.0L V6, and 340 horsepower and 340 lb./ft. of torque for the 3.5L twin-turbo V6 that will reportedly debut in the 2009 Lincoln MKS sedan.
So does this mean an end to big-bore V-8s to get big power? Maybe not completely, but one thing's for certain: Carmakers are going to have to get more creative to provide the power that customers want, and still keep the fuel economy bureaucrats happy, and forced induction looks like it's going to be one of the primary ways to accomplish both.