2006 Ford Explorer
|How do you improve upon a
vehicle that created its segment and has continued to be the sales leader
for 15 straight years? For the 2006 Ford Explorer, the answer is more
power, improved fuel economy, low emissions, new advanced safety
technologies, class-leading interior quietness, improved ride comfort and
MOST POWERFUL AND REFINED EXPLORER EVER
The 2006 Ford Explorer's advanced engine technologies improve both the drive experience and the environment.
The 2006 Explorer with the standard V-6 engine produces 74 percent less
smog-forming emissions than the previous model. In fact, V-6-powered
Explorers are expected to be certified to the same federal tailpipe
emissions standards as the Ford Escape Hybrid, the world's cleanest
Additionally, fuel economy for the all-new 4.6-liter three-valve V-8
engine paired with the new six-speed transmission is expected to
increase by up to 10 percent, while delivering 53 more horsepower.
"Performance and fuel economy can go hand-in-hand if you invest in the
right technologies," says Dave Szczupak, vice president, Powertrain
Operations. "That's why Ford is investing in six-speed automatic
transmissions, electronic throttles, variable cam timing and other
advanced powertrain technologies."
Ford has a leadership position in powertrain technologies such as
six-speed automatic transmissions to simultaneously boost performance
without necessarily going to larger engines and fuel economy with the
wider ratio spreads allowed by the extra gear. This investment in
technology is particularly appropriate in the SUV market, where Ford is
increasing capability without resorting to larger-displacement engines
that consume more fuel.
"The new V-8 and six-speed automatic drivetrain is a tremendous
advantage for the 2006 Explorer," says Raj Nair, SUV and Body-on-Frame
Vehicles executive director. "Not only does it offer more power, more
refinement and better fuel economy, but it also offers increased
utility. The additional power output helps Explorer deliver improved
payload up to 1,520 pounds and a 7,300-pound maximum towing
capacity when properly equipped."
Explorer's standard powertrain is a refined version of the SOHC
4.0-liter V-6, paired with a five-speed automatic. Both powertrains
boast modifications to improve noise, vibration, and harshness.
Three-valve heads, variable cam timing, muscle car power
The most significant powertrain improvement, from the driver's
perspective, is the new 4.6-liter V-8, with three-valves per cylinder,
and single overhead cams with variable cam timing. These features are
common with the highly lauded 2005 Ford Mustang GT, as well as the
5.4-liter V-8 in the F-Series pickups and Expedition. With the
introduction of the Explorer, Ford Motor Company is approaching one
million three-valve V-8s produced. This multi-application approach to
Ford's "modular" V-8s delivers benefits in manufacturing efficiencies,
proven customer reliability, and performance.
2006 Ford Explorer features a new, 4.6-liter, 3-valve V-8 with variable
cam timing, delivering 292 hp and 300 ft.-lbs. of torque.
In the Explorer, the 4.6-liter V-8 delivers 292 horsepower. The slight
decrease in output from Mustang's 300 horsepower can be attributed to a
more restrictive exhaust necessary to accommodate Explorer's available
The new head enables a higher compression ratio on regular grade 87
Octane gasoline. Two of the three valves assigned to each cylinder are
intake valves because more airflow into the engine means more power
output. A new, tuned-length exhaust manifold offers optimized exhaust
flow to help scavenge burned gases from the cylinders.
The three-valve heads feature center-mounted sparkplugs that offer three benefits:
The three-valve heads are smaller and lighter than equivalent
four-valve heads. Their large dual intake ports provide a direct path
to the twin intake valves for better airflow at peak engine speeds. At
lower speeds and loads, a charge motion control valve (CMCV) closes,
increasing air velocity and in-cylinder motion for optimum fuel
economy. Likewise, lightweight intake and exhaust valves reduce inertia
for high-speed performance capability, while enabling lower friction
for fuel economy. The cylinder heads are capped with lightweight
magnesium cam covers that help suppress valvetrain noise.
- Placing the sparkplug in the center of the cylinder provides
symmetrical flame for more complete fuel combustion. This extracts more
power from the engine while decreasing the amount of unconsumed fuel in
the exhaust system, resulting in low emissions
- A longer and narrower spark plug design enabled powertrain
engineers to use larger-diameter valves, for increased economy and
- The compact coil-on-plug ignition system enables the powertrain
control module (PCM) more precise spark control, again for improved
The ABCs of VCT
Variable camshaft timing (VCT) plays an important part in generating
more power as well as improving efficiency and reducing emissions.
The VCT system allows up to 50 degrees of cam variation in relation to
the crankshaft angle. Ford's "dual-equal" variable cam timing design
shifts the timing of both the intake and exhaust valves together, with
a single camshaft per cylinder head. This provides all the benefits of
variable valve timing but creates far less complexity and adds less
weight than VCT systems that actuate the intake valves separately.
The cam in each cylinder head operates both sets of valves using
low-profile roller-finger followers, helping reduce friction. The
powertrain control module (PCM) directs solenoids to alter the oil flow
in the hydraulic cam timing mechanism, which rotates the camshafts in
relation to their drive sprockets. The unit can shift between fully
advanced and fully retarded in milliseconds.
single-overhead-cam heads feature "dual equal" variable cam timing that
rotates the camshafts up to 50 degrees in relation to the crankshaft.
The result is enhanced efficiency under low-load conditions, such as at
idle or highway cruising, and increased power for brisk acceleration
for times of high demand.
Paired with the six-speed automatic, 4x4 V-8 models are expected to
deliver up to a 10 percent increase in fuel economy, or two miles per
gallon. Just as significant, it is anticipated to qualify for Tier II
Bin 5 emissions certification, which is compliant with California's Low
Emissions Vehicle II (LEV II) standards.
Class-leading six-speed automatic transmission
The 4.6-liter V-8 comes standard with a new six-speed 6R automatic
transmission, introducing transmission technology normally found only
in luxury vehicles to the mid-price mid-size SUV segment.
For the best possible shift quality, each 6R transmission is bench
tested at Ford's Livonia (Mich.) Transmission Plant. There, the
transmission build quality is verified, detecting even minute
variabilities in the manufacturing process. These variances would
normally lead to changes in shift feel. However, the 6R's electronic
controller is programmed with its own unique software to account for
these variances, producing smooth, precisely controlled shifts that
improve durability and customer satisfaction.
The electronically controlled transmission offers the smooth shift
quality of a luxury car, but is fully tested for heavy-duty use. In
fact, it contributes to the 7,300-pound maximum towing capacity of the
V-8 drivetrain. For example, the torque converter assembly features
three friction plates with improved durability, and increased cooling
flow for heavy-duty, high-load use.
class-leading, six-speed 6R electronically controlled transmission
features the first console-mounted shifter in an Explorer.
New for 2006, the transmission selector is mounted on the center
console (rather than the steering column.) As a result, the
transmission can be shifted manually with crisp response, thanks to
full electronic solenoid control of the clutch elements. Lastly,
focalized transmission mounts mean an even greater reduction in NVH
The 6R has a 6.04:1 gear-ratio span. The company's 5R55W5 automatic has
a span in the range of 4.5:1. The wide ratio span of the 6R enables the
engine to spend more time in the optimum powerband either at peak
power for acceleration, or at peak efficiency for more fuel economy.
Cleaner emissions on standard V-6 engine
Explorer's standard 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine received significant
improvements for the 2006 model year as well. New engine calibrations
and an improved emission controls cut smog-forming emissions by 74
percent. Idle quality was improved by 50 percent, thanks to a new
camshaft and spark plugs.
Additionally, the 2006 Explorer V-6 is expected to be certified to the
same federal tailpipe emissions standards as Ford's Escape Hybrid, the
world's cleanest SUV.
The 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 produces the same 210 hp of its predecessor, but now produces 74 percent less smog-forming emissions.
The 4.0-liter V-6 is rated at 210 horsepower at 5,100 revolutions per
minute and 254 foot-pounds at 3,700 revolutions per minute.
The torque curve is designed to be relatively flat across the entire
engine range and to provide strong performance at nearly any engine
speed. An equal-length composite plastic intake system improves sound
The V-6 engine comes with a five-speed automatic transmission. The
wide-ratio five-speed 5R55W provides good acceleration and fuel
economy. In addition, the 5R55W has a single aluminum transmission
casting that greatly reduces NVH and powertrain bending at higher
speeds. To reduce noise, it utilizes a quieter oil pump and planetary
Cooling system designed to pass rigors of Ford truck towing tests
The 2006 Explorer also features an improved cooling system, delivering
increased capability, decreased NVH, and improved fuel economy.
The clutch that operates the cooling system fan is now under the
command of the powertrain control module. This electronic control
allows the fan to be operated at just the right time to keep the engine
within the proper range of operating temperature yet not run so long as
to draw off engine power and draw down fuel economy. Controlling when
the fan operates, how long it operates and how fast it operates also
makes it less intrusive in terms of NVH.
The cooling system is a key component in the Explorer's impressive
payload and towing capability. One of the most tortuous tests Explorer
is subject to is the Davis Dam towing test in Arizona. The truck is
loaded down to its maximum gross vehicle weight, and then climbs up the
Davis Dam grade as the ambient temperature peaks over 100 degrees. This
is just one of the battery of towing tests Explorer must pass to
certify that its engine and transmission cooling systems are up to the
task, not to mention its engine calibration and system hardware.
New driveshafts improve NVH
As part of its campaign to elevate refinement of the 2006 Explorer, Explorer also features new driveshafts.
On V-6 models, the traditional aluminum-tube driveshaft is engineered for improved balance and decreased run-out.
To accommodate the longer 6R transmission, V-8 Explorers have new,
improved "slip-in-tube" driveshafts. These feature a pair of splined
tubes that plunge into one another, eliminating the need for the steel
slip and forged stud yokes used in conventional slip-between-center
The slip-in-tube driveshaft is more resistant to bending than
conventional driveshafts and thus is inherently less prone to NVH. In
addition, the increased overlap between the tubes enables increased
driveshaft extension, as well as increased durability.
Explorer 4x4 models feature improved slip-in-tube driveshafts,
differential mounts and transfer-case mounts for improved NVH
A computer numerically controlled (CNC) cold rolling spline process is
used to make the slip-in-tube driveshaft. That means that no material
inside or outside is machined away. The primary benefit of this
process is that it allows the tubes to slide in and out of each other
easily, even under heavy torque, which eliminates unpredictable NVH
behavior and provides a smooth, quiet ride.
Finally, the rear differential mounts of all 2006 Explorers have been
reconfigured for improved isolation, greater durability and reduced
NVH. The differential is suspended by four mounts: Two, close-set,
vertical mounts are connected to the front of the differential casing,
while two vertical mounts have a wider stance at the rear of the
casing. Like the legs of a table, these wide set mounts better
stabilize the differential, for improved isolation and durability.
Control Trac® delivers automatic torque split, low-range
Explorer continues to offer the advanced Control Trac® four-wheel-drive
system. It includes electronic logic and a two-speed transfer case with
a locking center differential.
Control Trac® is an advanced four-wheel-drive system that allows a driver to select between three driving modes:
These powertrain changes help Explorer retain its leadership, offering
genuine SUV capability to tow or go off-road, without compromising the
fuel-economy, refinement, or performance that have made the Explorer
the benchmark of its class.
- The 4x4 AUTO (or A4WD) mode provides full power to the rear axle
until the rear wheels begin to slip. Then power is automatically
proportioned to the front axle as required for increased traction. This
mode is appropriate for any driving condition.
- The 4x4 HIGH (4H) mode effectively locks the center differential,
providing a constant 50/50 torque split between the front and rear
axles. It only is intended for severe winter or off-road conditions,
such as deep snow and ice and shallow sand.
- The 4x4 LOW (4L) mode locks the transfer case and engages a
torque-multiplying gear set in the transfer case. It only is intended
for off-road applications that require extra power including deep sand,
steep grades and towing a boat trailer out of water.
"Serious Explorations"® is not
affiliated or endorsed by the Ford Motor Company.