Hassett Automotive

It’s pretty obvious that Planet Earth’s chief inhabitants are turning a corner: Greener, smaller, big efficiency, small footprint … these are the definitions of “new and improved” now, the calling cards of everything “better,” from light bulbs to skyscrapers.

Somewhere in the middle of all that is an automotive revolution. It’s actually the most innovative era for cars and trucks since the Model T; the drive toward fuel efficiency has inspired an all-out environmental race, and enjoying a comfortable lead – as it did a century ago, when founder Henry mass-produced America’s first affordable car – is the Ford Motor Co.

And just when you thought “green” had run out of automotive steam, here comes Ford again, redefining parameters. Years ago, the world of sports-utility vehicles was turned on its ear by the one-and-only Explorer, still the most popular SUV of all time – and the most durable (according to Hassett Automotive Service Manager Marc Zergebel, of roughly six million Explorers ever sold, four million are still on the road). Now, everything about the Explorer is new – the platform, the efficiency, the amenities, the thinking – and once again, the world has changed.

How new? How’s this: The Explorer is no longer an SUV. Built on a smaller car platform that increases fuel performance and handling, the CUV – as in “crossover” – is completely redesigned, inside and out. And it still offers full-size comfort for seven passengers and a 5,000-pound towing capacity, right at the top of an increasingly crowded CUV field.

“The Explorer is just amazing,” says Marc, who attended the invitation-only unveiling of the 2011 Explorer July 26 in New York City, rubbing elbows with Ford CEO Alan Mulally and TV pitchman Mike Rowe.

“I’m blown away,” he says. “It’s beautiful, it’s efficient, it’s high-tech, it’s safe. It still carries seven people in three rows of seating, very comfortably. It still tows 5,000 pounds. And it does it all with class-leading fuel mileage.”

“The shift from traditional SUV to the crossovers has been great for fuel efficiency, but typically, crossovers have two rows and seating for five,” Marc adds. “The market still demands a seven-passenger vehicle with the versatility of all-wheel drive and the ability to carry a full-size family.”

That family is going to want power enough to handle any road, task or weather, and they’ll get it, whether they choose the Explorer’s standard 3.5-liter Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing V6 or the optional 2-liter Direct Injection Turbocharged EcoBoost™ engine (promising 30-percent better fuel economy). Either way, the Explorer packs impressive horsepower and an aggressive six-speed automatic transmission.

That family is also going to prize safety, so they’ll appreciate Ford’s newest anti-injury innovation: the world’s first inflatable rear safety belts, an option designed and tested specifically to reduce head and neck injuries and enhance rear-seat safety for passengers of all ages. “Really a terrific idea,” Marc notes. “That much more protection, in case of an accident.”

And that family, of course, will want to enjoy the ride. In Ford’s exclusive upgrade packages, they’ll find the latest in mobile communications, security and entertainment.

“Automatic parking, Bluetooth technology, turn-by-turn navigation, traffic, weather, movie listings…” Marc says. “All sorts of information, right on a nice LCD touch-screen.”

Those features and more are indeed available via the optional Ford MyTouch™ System, which promises game-changing driver-connect technology. Responding to over 10,000 voice commands, the touch-screen and steering-wheel mounted controls, the latest incarnation of Ford’s groundbreaking SYNC System controls music, climate, phone and navigation systems, interfacing with passengers on three customizable LCD screens and even enabling WiFi.

Out-of-the-box thinking like this has always set the Explorer apart. But the 2011 Explorer represents a quantum leap, Marc says, sure to “capture the imagination and satisfy the needs of existing (Mercury) Mountaineer and Explorer owners, as well as a whole new market of customers we haven’t seen before.”

“This is exactly what they’ve been waiting for,” Marc says. “It’s the ideal choice for the family in search of quality, comfort, safety and efficiency. And it’s a total blast.”

Hassett expects to take delivery of the first 2011 Explorers later this year, but is already taking orders from excited enthusiasts. For more details on the new Explorer’s breakthrough design and topflight amenities – or to reserve the best ride of your life – swing by the dealership on Sunrise Highway in Wantagh today, or visit Hassett online