The Ford Explorer, the poster child of the ‘90s gas-guzzling SUV boom, has changed its ways. Ford unveiled a very different 2011 Explorer today, one based not on a truck frame, but the humble Taurus platform, the Detroit Free Press reports. Instead of sheer brawn, the new Explorer sports a 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine that has the power of a 6-cylinder engine, fuel economy expected to rival a Toyota Camry, and creature comforts like in-car electronics and optional inflatable seatbelts.
Along with the death of the McMansion, "It's a different world," says a Ford exec. "People are much more thoughtful about their consumption, and the new Explorer is in line with that." The Explorer “does not so much feel like an SUV,” says an analyst. But that kind of change may have been necessary—though 4 million Explorers dot US highways, sales have fallen from more than 300,000 a year during the '90s boom to 52,190 last year. (Read more Ford Explorer stories.)