Monday, October 31, 2011

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth Official Photos: The 500’s Angry Sibling Announced for L.A. Show

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

The amped-up 500 we've been waiting for.

Just one year ago at the Los Angeles auto show, Fiat announced its official reentry into our country with the debut of the U.S.-spec 500. Since then, the brand has added the pseudo convertible 500C, but sales of all Cinquecentos have failed to impress. You might say they could use a little boost, so what better time to introduce a hotter turbocharged variant to our shores? The 2012 500 Abarth has been officially confirmed to arrive at the Los Angeles auto show.
For those not familiar with the current-gen 500 Abarth, you must know that it’s not new. First introduced to Europe in 2008, the 500 Abarth is an absolute hoot to drive. The regular 500’s wheezy 101-hp, 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder gets boosted with a turbocharger, and tuned to make 133 hp in basic tune or 170 in the Esseesse version—say “SS,”and it stands for “supersport.” Which tune will we get? Well, Fiat isn’t talking yet, but we think it’s pretty safe to figure on 170 hp. This is America, after all: Go big or go back to Italy. (Abarth also makes the 180-plus-hp 695 Competizione, but it’s a limited-edition special.)
But the 500 Abarth is not just about motor. Born from a philosophy of “small but wicked” coined by company founder Karl Abarth, its mechanical modifications also bring a lot to the table, at least in Europe. We don’t yet know exactly how our car’s chassis will be spec’d—Fiat only says that the car is aimed at driving purists and track-day enthusiasts with an Abarth-tuned suspension and brakes, and “technology features not traditionally included on a small car.” The Fiat folks do add, however, that our version will “stay true” to the Euro model. That should mean our Abarth will include stiffer springs and shocks and a brake-based torque-control system to help mitigate understeer.
Aesthetically, the cutie-pie face of the base 500 is dialed up with more aggression. The Abarth’s front fascia has a larger intake opening, accented by a subtle chin spoiler. There are new rocker extensions and the rear bumper hosts a diffuser with dual exhaust pipes. Other unique exterior items include a roof-mounted spoiler, red brake calipers and mirror caps, Abarth’s signature scorpion logos and decals, and a set of larger, more-sinister wheels.
We haven’t received a peek at the U.S. car’s interior yet, but it’ll likely carry over the sporty seats, aluminum pedals, fat steering wheel, and boost gauge found in Continental Abarths. Our answer will come soon enough, and the car will go on sale in the first half of 2012.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cadre of Ford Focuses Invade 2011 SEMA Show

The Blue Oval's excellent new small car gets the SEMA treatment, times seven.

The 2012 Focus is the Blue Oval’s most recently launched product, so it makes sense that Ford is bringing more of them to SEMA than any other model. There are in fact seven: six hatchbacks and one sedan, worked over by familiar names that include 3dCarbon, Roush, and Steeda. Details on each follow below; other SEMA show cars from Ford include three Fiestas, four F-series trucks, and three Explorers.
Ford Focus by Roush Performance
Talk about our kind of Focus. Roush mostly left playing dress-up to other shops and went straight to amping up the powertrain. This Roush Stage 3 Focus ought to be a riot, with its TVS supercharger, modified induction system, and dual-exit exhaust. As to the aesthetic changes, they’re limited to Roush grille inserts, a chin splitter, door graphics, and matte paint. Here’s hoping Roush offers this package to consumers—we have a feeling it will, given its past offerings for Focuses—and sends one our way.
Ford Focus by 3dCarbon
Speaking of dress-up, that’s what this 3dCarbon Focus hatch is all about, with its body kit and satin-finish exterior wrap. The windows have been tinted, an upper roof spoiler added, and red accents—including a set of BBS wheels—sprinkled around the exterior. The functional elements include Pirelli rubber and a set of Eibach springs.
Ford Focus by The ID Agency
We’re still trying to figure out exactly what The ID Agency means when it says its Focus was “inspired by European and Japanese tuning styles.” Whatever. It has a Wraptivo roof sticker, a Top Stitch interior with Recaro Sportster seats, a Brembo brake package, and a Magnaflow cat-back exhaust. The slammed stance with big wheels and a body kit definitely brings to mind some Japanese influence, but then there’s a Thule bike rack with a Custom Leader bike. Must be for European traffic jams?
Ford Focus by Capaldi Racing
The lone four-door in this group, Capaldi Racing’s Focus concentrates on rousing the powertrain with a Borla cat-back exhaust and a custom intake. The chassis gets a Ford Racing Torsen differential, an AST Sport-Line suspension, and Ford Racing anti-roll bars. The sedan’s exterior gets upgraded HID headlights, custom paint, a Capaldi Racing front splitter, and some SEMA-appropriate orange rollers.
Ford Focus by Steeda
Known primarily for its work on the Focus’s sportiest and horsiest sibling, the Mustang, Steeda has enhanced this compact hatch with a self-supplied rear anti-roll bar, front-end brace, and cold-air intake, plus a quartet of lowering springs. The body kit is from 3dCarbon and the 19-inch wheels come from HRE. The four-banger in the engine room is officially SEMA-fied with fancy aluminum bits.
Ford Focus by Bojix Design
Twenties on a Focus? It wouldn’t be SEMA with anything less. This Focus Stage 2 by Bojix Design goes big with a body kit, a roof spoiler, an H&R lowering kit, and the huge 20-inch wheels. The chassis is said to offer “civil street manners,” but with those wagon wheels and lowered suspension, there’s no way even the leather-and-Alcantara-swathed interior could make this a comfortable ride. But, hey, at least the brakes were upgraded with a kit from AP Racing to deal with all that unsprung weight.
Ford Focus by Cobb Tuning
Dubbing this Focus a “Motorsports Challenger,” Cobb seriously overhauled its four-cylinder with its own components, including forged pistons, custom intake and exhaust manifolds, and a turbo kit with a front-mounted intercooler. The chassis was prepped for track duty with Eibach coil-overs, Cobb suspension bushings, and a StopTech Trophy big-brake kit. With aero addenda like the front winglets, chin splitter, and enormous rear wing, this Focus looks the part, too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Range Rover sheds pounds, aims to gain share

Few vehicles can match the off-road capabilities of the typical Land Rover sport-utility vehicle. But when it came time to introduce the new Range Rover Evoque the British maker dug even deeper to reinforce its claims – more than 100 feet beneath the streets of Liverpool.
The media preview – staged in a long-abandoned network of railroad tunnels – was intended to show that the distinctive new Evoque could handle anything the typical buyer would likely run into. But the reality is that few will ever experience anything rougher than a gravel road or un-shoveled driveway. So why design a vehicle carrying all the extra hardware – and weight – of the typical Land Rover? 
While the iconic British brand isn’t likely to abandon the classic SUV that has been its foundation for the last 60 years, Land Rover is planning some major changes, and the Evoque is the first sign of what’s in store.
Apparently, the new crossover-ute has struck the right chord.  It has been named Motor Trend magazine's SUV of the Year and is a semi-finalist for North American Truck of the Year, an award that will be presented at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
The Range Rover Evoque is the first car-based crossover produced by the luxury brand, now owned by India’s Tata Motors, rather than the classic body-on-frame SUV.  With its funky, coupe-like styling, the new model is both the smallest and, at just north of 3,500 pounds in base configuration, the lightest model ever to wear a Rover badge. 
That reflects the reality of today’s automotive market. Motorists are generally downsizing as they struggle to deal with crowded city streets and rising fuel prices. That doesn’t mean they want to give up style, performance, space or functionality, however. 
So while Evoque abandons the low-range gearbox found on the classic Range Rover and other, less expensive Land Rover models, it carries over the Terrain Response Control system that, with the touch of a button, takes the guesswork out of driving on different surfaces, such as mud-and-ruts, gravel, snow-and-ice or standard pavement. 
It does that by revising the settings of all manner of vehicle operations. In one of the off-road modes, Evoque’s ride height increases by several inches. Throttle response changes appropriately. In snow, you’ll start out in second gear. Transmission and brake-intervention systems like ABS and electronic stability control also are reprogrammed for optimum traction and handling.
That dependence on electronic, rather than mechanical, technology will become increasingly apparent in future products, as will the wedge shape of the Evoque, explained Gerry McGovern, the brand’s design director, acknowledging, “Land Rover needs redefining.”
The process began with the unveiling of the LRX concept vehicle in January 2008 at the North American International Auto Show.  Company officials admit they weren’t sure what to expect, but the strong response to the show car convinced them to move forward with the project that became Evoque, which was launched while the brand was still owned by Ford Motor Co., then brought to market by Tata, which acquired both Land Rover and sibling British brand Jaguar in March 2008.
“We knew we had something very special on our hands, something that could change the perception of the brand," said Land Rover managing director Phil Popham
The buzz kept building as the maker carefully doled out details of the project and by the time of the recent media preview there were already 20,000 orders in hand.  Significantly, 80 percent of those buyers have never before owned a Land Rover product.
Considering initial reviews, the new Range Rover Evoque very well could become one of – if not the – best-selling model in the brand’s history.  Long little more than a niche player, Land Rover is aiming to take itself at least a bit more mainstream.  That doesn’t mean it will walk away from classic truck-based SUVs. Quite the contrary. 
It revealed an all-new concept version of the big Defender model at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, McGovern describing it as a “vision of the 21st Century” SUV. A production version should roll into showrooms in a couple of years.
But even such traditional offerings will undergo some dramatic changes, according to Popham, who revealed a corporate goal of trimming anywhere from 800 to 1,100 pounds of weight off the typical Land Rover product. That will be critical if the marque hopes to meet tough new emissions and mileage requirements going into effect in most of its key markets.
Expect also to see a shift to more high-tech powertrains, he hinted. There’ll be more diesels – and very likely a diesel for the U.S. market.  The Range Rover Evoque, meanwhile, will be the first Land Rover offering to get a hybrid-electric drivetrain.  Even conventional gasoline powertrains will be downsized and turbocharged – like the turbo 2.0-liter direct injection 4-cylinder engine offered in the new crossover.
While rising fuel prices have clearly had an impact on the utility vehicle market, sales have remained surprisingly strong.  But Land Rover officials recognize they can’t keep practicing business as usual. The new Evoque gives a hint of the alternative future they’re mapping out.

original article:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2011 Toyota Tundra with NEW Fuel Mojave 20x9 5x150 Matte Black Wheels and 305/55R20 Nitto Terra Grappler All Terrain Tires  

Toyota Tundra Review - What the Auto Press Says

The 2011 Toyota Tundra ranks 5 out of 8 Full Size Pickup Trucks. This ranking is based on our analysis of 66 published reviews and test drives of the Toyota Tundra, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
The 2011 Toyota Tundra is a great all-around truck, but it’s easily trumped when it comes to looks, performance, fuel economy and standard features.
Most reviewers say the 2011 Toyota Tundra is practical and meets expectations. It has a large bed, multiple cab options that increase seating capacity and powerful engines.
The Tundra is a sensible truck, but it definitely isn’t perfect. One of the biggest complaints is that the Tundra tends to understeer and isn't as sturdy as the Dodge Ram and Ford F-150. The Tundra’s list of standard interior features is also sparse in comparison to its top competitors.
The consensus? Reviewers say that while the Tundra is outdone when it comes to handling, style and fuel economy, it is still an excellent all-around choice. Edmunds says that, despite the Tundra’s faults, it “remains a well-built and thoroughly competent truck.”

Other Trucks to Consider

Many full size pickup trucks start between $2,000 and $3,000 less than the 2011 Toyota Tundra. Along with those savings, you get higher fuel economy ratings, better performance and more aggressive exterior styling.
If you’re after better fuel economy ratings, go for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500, both of which get 15/20 mpg city/highway on the two-wheel drive models.   
The Dodge Ram offers more aggressive exterior styling and better performance, all for $20,610, almost $3,000 less than the Toyota Tundra. Fuel economy, however, isn’t best in class. The two-wheel drive Ram only gets 14/20 mpg city/highway.
To save money, go for a 2010 Tundra. It looks identical to the 2011 model, but it lacks a few standard safety features. Check our Toyota Deals page for the best offers on 2010 models.

Details: Toyota Tundra

Toyota has given the Tundra a few updates for the 2011 model year. The 4.0 liter V6 engine gets dual variable timing, which increases fuel economy and power. Toyota also added more standard safety features: brake override technology and trailer-sway control. The Tundra is available in Regular, Double and CrewMax models.
  • "Contradicting a trend that's gained momentum in the past decade, Toyota has reduced the maximum trailer-towing rating of the Tundra half-ton for 2011, in one case up to 1,100 pounds." --
  • "Those who enjoyed the more nimble, economical Toyota pickups of the past may find the 2011 Toyota Tundra far too large. The Tundra's size means it can be challenging to maneuver in tight situations and, understandably, it is not particularly fuel-efficient, and there is no diesel engine option." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Tundra trails GM and Ford for handling, interior materials, and overall refinement. It bests them for power and passenger accommodations, however. Give it a look." -- Consumer Guide

Tundra Performance - 8.2 (Very Good)

While the 2011 Toyota Tundra doesn’t have the most precise steering among full size trucks, Edmunds says, "It proved to be a capable workhorse that tackled all our towing, hauling and commuting needs without breaking a sweat." Read More

Tundra Exterior - 7.4 (Good)

Many reviewers say the 2011 Toyota Tundra doesn’t stand out in a class of more aggressive pickup trucks. "Toyota made sure this Tundra wouldn't have sand kicked in its face by designing a big, brawny pickup that looks like it could bully any truck on the market, at least from the front,” says “From the side, the Tundra is rather conventional. A deck-rail adjustable tie-down system is available for all cargo beds." Read More

Tundra Interior - 8.1 (Very Good)

The 2011 Toyota Tundra’s interior isn’t luxurious, and while some reviewers wish it were better, others say that it doesn’t need to be. As Edmunds says, "Although the cabin evinced a few ergonomic missteps, it was generally durable, spacious and comfy." Read More

Tundra Safety - 10.0 (Excellent)

The 2011 Toyota Tundra earns good crash test scores from the federal government and the insurance industry for highway safety. This year, the Tundra gets two new standard safety features: Trailer-sway Control and brake override technology. Read More

Tundra Reliability - 8.0 (Very Good)

The 2011 Toyota Tundra reliability score shown is the Predicted Reliability rating provided by J.D. Power and Associates. This score is based on trending the past three years of historical initial quality and dependability data from J.D. Power's automotive studies, specifically the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (IQS). The 2011 Toyota Tundra has a basic warranty that lasts for 36-months or 36,000-miles, whichever comes first. Read More
Review Last Updated: 12/6/10
original article:


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mazda’s Takeri concept foreshadows next Mazda6

Automotive News -- October 25, 2011 - 7:13 am ET
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Mazda Motor Corp. has unveiled a sculpted, mid-sized sedan concept that strongly foreshadows the next generation Mazda6 and comes equipped with a regenerative braking system that helps save fuel by powering the car’s electrical system.
The Takeri concept, to be shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in late November, employs the brand’s new kodo design language that debuts in the CX-5 small crossover.
The car strongly hints at the upcoming redesign of the Mazda6, said Hidetoshi Kudo, general manager for product strategy. The concept brims with Mazda’s new SkyActiv fuel-saving technologies, including the SkyActiv-D clean diesel engine, the new six-speed automatic transmission, a new body and chassis framework and an engine idle-stop system.
But Takeri takes SkyActiv a step further as the first Mazda equipped with regenerative braking. The system converts kinetic energy to electricity during deceleration and stores it in capacitors for use later in powering air conditioning, audio systems, lighting and other equipment.
The technology saves fuel because it relieves the engine of having to generate electricity -- enabling it to more efficiently apply power to moving the car. Mazda says capacitors are more efficient than using batteries because they can charge more quickly and have a longer lifespan.
Mazda aims to score big with styling and mileage in the next-generation Mazda6, which is competing in an increasingly cut-throat segment. The sedan, expected to appear at the end of next year, will no longer be made at Mazda’s plant in Flat Rock, Mich.
Mazda expects to offer gasoline and diesel versions of the revamped Mazda6 when it goes on sale in the United States, Kudo said. The model currently doesn’t come in a diesel variant. The company has already announced plans to have gasoline and diesel options on the CX-5.
By 2015, all Mazda vehicles will get Skyactiv technologies and will reflect the more aggressive and sporty design philosophy that Mazda calls kodo, Japanese for “soul of motion.”
In the Takeri, it manifests itself most clearly in the so-called Signature Wing grille, which plays off the brand’s logo with wingtips bisecting the headlamps.

Read more:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2007 Dodge Nitro with 20" Helo Wheels and Goodyear Tires

2007 Dodge Nitro came in to upgrade its wheels and tires. 20x8.5 5x114.3 Helo 851 Machine Face Black Windows and a Black lip wrapped with 245/50/20 Goodyear Wrangler HP Tires.

Expert Reviews

By Mike Hanley National November 16, 2006
Related Images
R/T front
R/T front

R/T side
R/T side

R/T rear
R/T rear

SXT and SLT comparison
SXT and SLT comparison


Center controls
Center controls

Front seats
Front seats

Rear seats
Rear seats

Rear-seat video
Rear-seat video

SXT cargo area
SXT cargo area

Load 'N Go cargo system
Load 'N Go cargo system

Front footwell
Front footwell

4.0-liter V-6
4.0-liter V-6

20-inch wheels
20-inch wheels
For a brand that's constantly touting the toughness of its products, it's a bit ironic that Dodge has been a small player in the SUV market — the segment that has come to represent all things tough in the car world. However, with the launch of the all-new 2007 Nitro, Dodge looks ready to make up for lost time with an ├╝ber-tough SUV if there ever was one.
The five-seat Nitro is a blast to drive in a straight line thanks to a gem of an engine in the available 4.0-liter V-6, but it suffers from trucklike ride and handling that has no place in an SUV designed for onroad performance.

Exterior & Styling

Despite my normal aversion to overly aggressive-looking SUVs, I'm fond of the Nitro's Tonka-tough appearance. Still, it's hard not to feel a little like a goof when driving it alongside everyday Accords and Corollas. Though it may not get as many looks (or smirks) as a Hummer H3 or Toyota FJ Cruiser, it's a head-turner.
The Nitro's boxy shape is accentuated by gigantic front and rear fender flares and a short greenhouse. The nearly vertical grille is silver on SXT and SLT trims, but the crosshair portion of the grille is body-colored on R/T models.

Ride & Handling

The Nitro's independent front and solid rear axle suspension system is available in sport or performance tune, the latter featuring changes to the stabilizer bars, coil springs, shocks and bushings. The performance suspension — which includes 20-inch chrome wheels — is standard on the R/T, the trim level I tested.
Dodge says the performance suspension is designed to have a firm ride, and I have to agree. The Nitro uses a lengthened and widened version of the Jeep Liberty's Uniframe unibody/frame-rail platform, and driving on rough roads is a jarring experience; hitting a bump or dip in the road results in an exaggerated response from the suspension that can toss occupants around in their seats. Even relatively smooth concrete highways can make the body start bouncing.
The driver gets a commanding view of the road, but the high seating position doesn't inspire much confidence when driving through corners, which I often took gingerly. I like the feel of the R/T's thick-rim leather-wrapped steering wheel, but the rack-and-pinion power steering system provides too much assist for my taste when traveling at highway speeds. The light effort is appreciated around town, though.

Going & Stopping

Two V-6 engines are offered, and the larger and more powerful 4.0-liter V-6 that's standard in the R/T goes a long way toward backing up the Nitro's burly exterior with its eager responses and ever-present exhaust burble. This engine gets the two-ton Nitro up to highway speeds easily, and is quite smooth considering its displacement.
Dodge Nitro Engines
3.7-liter V-64.0-liter V-6
Horsepower (@ rpm)210 @ 5,200260 @ 6,000
Torque (lbs.-ft. @ rpm)235 @ 4,000265 @ 4,200
Required fuelRegularRegular
gas mileage
(city/highway, mpg)
(RWD, 4WD manual)
(4WD automatic)
Source: Manufacturer

The base 3.7-liter V-6 teams with a six-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, while the 4.0-liter V-6 drives a five-speed automatic that features Dodge's AutoStick clutchless-manual mode. Whether you're driving in the city or on the highway, the five-speed automatic readily kicks down when more of the 4.0-liter's ample power is needed.
Both rear- and four-wheel-drive versions are available, and two 4WD systems are offered. The part-time system should only be engaged when driving on slippery surfaces (RWD is used under normal driving conditions), but the full-time system includes a center differential and operates without driver intervention. Neither system has a low range, which disqualifies the Nitro from extreme offroad driving.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. The brakes stop the Nitro without incident and are fairly linear, but the pedal itself has an uninspiring, spongy feel.

The Inside

Like the exterior, the Nitro's cabin is a bit austere. The three-pod gauge cluster sits atop a skinny dashboard that falls away rapidly from the driver and front passenger. The base SXT's interior is accented in black, but SLT and R/T models feature silver trim pieces on the center dash, door pulls, door armrests and center console. Manual air conditioning, a 115V power outlet and a CD stereo are standard.
There's room for five in the Nitro, which has two front bucket seats and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Its backrests can recline for enhanced passenger comfort, but the rear seats don't slide fore and aft like they do in the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander. Cloth seating surfaces are standard; stain-resistant fabric and leather-trimmed seats are available.
The leather-trimmed bucket seats are surprisingly soft; you sink into them rather than sit on top. The upper section of the backrests hit my shoulder blades uncomfortably, but otherwise the Nitro's front seats are easy to live with. More annoying are the impossibly small front footwells and the lack of a footrest for the driver's left foot. The outboard rear seats are roomy and there's headroom to spare, though backseat passengers don't get a center armrest and the door pockets are tiny.


As of publication, only the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had crash tested the Nitro, which received five stars for its performance in the agency's frontal test. Side curtain airbags and an electronic stability system are standard.

Cargo & Towing

The Nitro has 32.1 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second-row seats, which is the same as the Ford Edge but smaller than both the RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Folding the rear seats brings 65.2 cubic feet of space and is a straightforward process that doesn't require the two rear head restraints to be removed.
SXT models have a reversible cargo floor with a molded-in tray on one side that's designed to keep messes confined to the cargo area. SLT and R/T trim lines have the Load 'N Go cargo floor. Capable of sliding out of the cargo area up to 18 inches, Load 'N Go brings the cargo floor to you when loading objects, and Dodge says it can hold up to 400 pounds. There's a concealed storage bin underneath both floors.
The Nitro's standard towing capacity is 2,000 pounds. Selecting the optional Trailer Tow Group — which includes heavy-duty engine and power steering cooling systems, a Class III hitch and a full-size spare tire — raises trailer towing capacity to 3,500 pounds; fitting a so-equipped Nitro with a weight-distributing hitch bumps maximum towing capacity to 5,000 pounds, which is at the high end for small SUVs.


Available entertainment options include the MyGIG navigation system, which features Sirius Satellite Radio and the Bluetooth-based UConnect cell phone system. MyGIG features a 20GB hard drive that can hold music and images uploaded to it from a disc or USB flash drive (image files can be set as the background on the system's 6.5-inch screen). In conjunction with Sirius' real-time traffic data, MyGIG can reroute the Nitro around traffic accidents. A rear-seat video system that features a 7-inch overhead screen is also optional.

Nitro in the Market

Though more consumers are migrating from truck-based SUVs to more fuel-efficient and better-riding car-based models, there will always be a market for statement vehicles like the Nitro, where practical considerations hold less sway. Even if the Nitro's reception by consumers is only lukewarm, which seems a remote possibility, it brings Dodge into a segment where until now its market share has been zero, and how can anything be worse than that?

original article:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ford Explorer hits 100,000 sales mark

Posted Oct 21st 2011 9:14AM
The 2011 Ford Explorer is a massive improvement over the last-generation model, and the Blue Oval's sales tally supports this claim. Ford tells us that the the Explorer is flying off store shelves, with 100,000 units sold so far in 2011. Those numbers are up 290 percent compared to 2010 totals, making the Explorer the fastest-growing mid-size utility vehicle in the country. This is the first time the Explorer has hit the 100,000 mark since 2007, and there are still over two months left in the year.

The Explorer appears to be selling quite well in spite of mixed reviews. While the vehicle came in for 2011 North American Truck Of The Year laurels, it hasn't fared as well in a number of comparison tests.
recently ranked the Explorer sixth in its $37,000 SUV Shootout, and earlier in the year, Consumer Reports ranked the Explorer as the 17th best utility vehicle out of 19 models, with complaints centering on the CUV's MyFordTouch infotainment system.

Ford would likely counter that the company is more concerned with what CUV buyers think, and those customers appear to be giving their vote of approval with their pocketbooks, and they might also note that the Explorer's
2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder model is only hitting the market as a 2012 model now (though it's already claiming about 15 percent of the model mix). Hit the jump to read Ford's official press release.
Show full PR text
The Ford Explorer crossed the 100,000 vehicle sales mark for 2011, making it the fastest growing mid-size utility in the nation

U.S. retail sales of the Explorer are up 290 percent, compared to the same period in 2010

Since its introduction in the 2012 model year, sales of 2.0L EcoBoost equipped Explorers and Edge are running at 15 percent

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. DD, 2011 – America's love affair with the Ford Explorer is stronger than ever with more than 100,000 Explorers sold this year, making it the fastest growing mid-size utility in the nation.

"The Explorer continues to be one of the strongest vehicles in the Ford portfolio, and we are excited to see it surpass the 100,000 sales plateau for the first time since 2007," said Amy Marentic, group marketing manager. "The success of this vehicle is further evidence that we are delivering products that people want."

This year the all-new Explorer has had stronger retail sales growth than any mid-size utility, either having tripled or quadrupled sales in all regions of the country. In total U.S. retail sales of the Explorer are up 290 percent compared to that same time in 2010.

"With best-in-class fuel economy and technology like MyFord Touch, terrain management and the world's first second-row inflatable rear belts Ford has shown that our dedication to customers' needs is paying off," said Marentic.

Explorer's retail share performance has also increased dramatically. Through August of this year, Explorer accounts for 6.3% retail share of the mid-size utility segment, a 4.5 point share increase over last year, making Explorer one of the best-selling mid-size utilities in America.

Explorer sales in the U.S. have exceeded 100,000 for the first time since 2007.

2011 100,000 note: January through early October

2010 60,687

2009 52,190

Customers are choosing Utilities
The utility segment has changed over the last decade. In 2000, utility sales accounted for approximately 20% of the market. Today, utilities account for just over 30% of all vehicles sold in the U.S, an approximate 50% share increase in the last 10 years.
News Source: Ford
Image Credit: Copyright 2011 John Neff / AOL
Original Article