It won’t hit dealerships until early 2011, but the next Explorer is already exceeding sales expectations. Early indications are that buyers don’t care that the Ford has ditched body-on-frame construction in favor of a unibody structure, or that it shares its platform with the Ford Taurus and Flex and the Lincoln MKS and MKT.
This shift to a traditional crossover construction has not only lured buyers, but Ford reports that Explorer pre-orders have nearly doubled original projections.
I guess the old-school SUV really is dying. What’s next, a unibody Tahoe?
According to The Detroit News, Ford has received around 15,000 orders for the 2011 Explorer. That includes about 3,000 retail and 7,500 dealer orders, as well as an additional 4,500 orders from companies. Initial popularity has even surpassed that of the new Taurus and Fiesta, quite incredible considering no formal advertising has started and consumers haven’t even been able to drive it yet.
Jason Mase, Ford’s manager of utility vehicles, told The Detroit News that about 55 percent of buyers are opting for the trailer tow package and 64 percent want all-wheel drive. Almost half are choosing a navigation system, and 87 percent are equipping their Explorer with the MyFord Touch infotainment system. Even better news for Ford is that almost half of the early orders are for the top-of-the-line $40,000 Limited model. That alone is an incredible statistic and shows how much pent-up demand exists for this vehicle.
Ford executives say consumers don’t care whether an SUV is a car or a truck, as long as their needs are met. So far that appears to be true, but we’ll see if the sales success continues once the honeymoon period is over.
If the unibody Explorer is a hit, will other body-on-frame SUVs, like the Tahoe, eventually follow suit?