Muscle-car diehards used to brag that “there’s no replacement for displacement” to glorify big-engine virtues. But with fuel economy just as important as horsepower these days, big engines are out and technology is in.
The 2012 Ford Explorer already boasts class-leading V-6 highway mileage, but for 2012, Ford is offering an optional four-cylinder that further elevates the mileage plateau. The Explorer EcoBoost is a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower and gets 28 mpg highway, that’s 3 mpg better than the standard V-6.
“Today’s SUV buyers place a high priority on miles per gallon, so Explorer has expanded its portfolio of fuel-efficient engines with an all-new EcoBoost offering,” said Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager. “SUV buyers deserve economy with their capability, so Explorer now offers best-in-class V-6 and four-cylinder fuel efficiency.”
In addition to the EcoBoost engine option, the Explorer achieves its mileage ratings with an advanced aerodynamic design, an enhanced six-speed transmission, and intelligent engine and fuel injection treatments.
Though the EcoBoost’s 250 horsepower is 40 fewer than the Explorer’s V-6, the EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 270 lb-ft torque, 15 lb-ft more than the bigger engine. This means the four-cylinder Explorer has ample tow ability despite the smaller design.
Why does this matter?
Take the Honda Pilot, for example, a prime competitor to the Ford Explorer. The Explorer V-6 bests the Pilot in mileage and towing, yet the EcoBoost averages 5 mpg more on the highway, but still manages decent towing ability, albeit less than the Pilot’s. Together, the engines are a significant advancement for Ford, as it signals serious intent by company brass that it will not sacrifice power and performance for gutless green.
Automotive.com’s take: Get used to it: Technology is the replacement for displacement.