2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost

 ROCHESTER, Mich. — Not far from this bucolic community, in the midst of some 3,800 acres lays Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds, with more than 100 miles of roadways and every kind of surface you could imagine. It is here that Ford tests all manner of current and future vehicles and it is here that we were able to test the 2012 Ford Explorer with EcoBoost. A four-cylinder version at that!
The full-size three-row Ford Explorer SUV-crossover is now available with an advanced 2.0-llter turbocharger and gasoline direct injection providing a blend of fuel economy, lower emissions and usable performance; the power of a normally aspirated V6 with the fuel economy of a four-cylinder engine delivering an EPA-rated 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. 
The new 2-liter will join a new 3.5-liter V-6 making 290-horsepower (only 2-horses less than the current V-8 but with a 20-percent gain in fuel economy) as power choices. The 3.5-liter will be the standard engine. Both are mated to a select-shift 6-speed automatic transmission.
Explorer joins the Edge as the first North American vehicles to offer the four-cylinder version of the high-tech EcoBoost engine. Ford is targeting 90 percent of its global vehicle portfolio to be powered by EcoBoost four and six-cylinder engines by 2013.
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder delivers 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque optimized with aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff (ADSFO), twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT), a smooth aerodynamic body and the efficient six-speed gear box.
Pushing Explorer across the varied terrain of the proving grounds including a series of hills, twists and turns and straight runs the EcoBoost proved equal to the tasks at hand.
While not as crisp and precise as the Edge with the same EcoBoost four, but considering the added weight, the length of the wheelbase and the lightness of the steering found in Explorer the 2.0-liter powered through the exercises with ease. Even though the handling was different the success of the EcoBoost to pull the Explorer with a heavy passenger load was a testament to the engineering team that developed the small displacement engine.
EcoBoost is available in front-wheel-drive 2012 Explorer models.
— Ted Biederman