Explorers and Suburbans Aren’t Dead… Yet

Chevrolet Suburban

Some of you fools thought that the day of reckoning had arrived: Hybrids were on the rise, guzzlers were socially unacceptable, and cars like the Suburban were going out of production. Guess again, greenheads.

There are plenty of folks who want to buy big SUVs, even though sales have dropped off sharply. According to Automotive News and quoted here, GM is developing new versions of its Suburban and Escalade on its full-size truck platform. The cars should be here in about three years—during which time, planners assume, demand will swell once again.

GM sold 410,778 of these full-size beasts in 2006, but only 184,000 last year. Then, however, the company exported 40,000, which gives it an incentive to pursue the model. Plus the fact that it makes a bundle on each of these cars.

Explorer conceptFord has been teasing us for months about a 2011 Explorer and is still dangling the prospect in front of its dealers. The new vehicle, however, won’t be another Suburban-type throwback. It will have unibody design and good fuel efficiency, using the turbocharged EcoBoost four to give something like 30 mpg. It will not offer a V8 option.

Built on the chassis used by the Taurus, Flex, and the MKS and MKT Lincolns, the 2011 Explorer seems to want to become a new crossover, rather than a traditional SUV. Like the Edge, it will still have three rows of seats, but final design seems not yet to be fixed. Spy pix of a possible mule driving around Dearborn, Michigan, have been floating around, and the company’s concept version (above) came to Chicago in April of last year.

It remains to be seen which company is on the right track here: Ford with its new economical people-moving platform, or GM with its traditional truck-based SUV setup – go anywhere, pull anything.

Doesn’t Ford have enough crossovers already without adding yet another offering (even though it will be slightly bigger)? What’s your opinion?

—jgoods

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6 Comments

  1. Its now a great chance for the US government to redefine vehicles like Escalade and Suburban as passenger cars and tax them accordingly. they certainly are not freight carrying vehicles and its probably the only way of recovering the huge sums being handed to GM.

  2. I wonder if they will follow japanese design principle and offer pedal interfering floor mats, sticking gas pedals, and malfunctioning car computers? Well, maybe it would be best if they didn’t follow japanese design principles.

  3. Just to be clear, the Edge is a two-seat crossover. The Explorer will be a 3-row SUV with fuel economy at least 25% better than the current model and EcoBoost power. We have talked extensively to current and future customers and they see that car as an SUV not a CUV.
    The concept car (Explorer America) was shown at Detroit 2 years ago.
    Kind regards,
    Jay Ward
    Ford Communications

  4. If Ford were serious about building a properly sorted Explorer it would import ther hugely successful TERRITORY from Aussie always a big improvement on the rubbish you had on offer

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