The traction-control system uses a single simple dial with four modes of operation and will be standard on all 2011 Explorers with four-wheel drive. The modes were designed to account for most four-wheel applications, with options for muddy or rutted roads, snowy roads, sand, and, of course, normal roads. Instead of selecting ranges or manually locking and unlocking differentials, each mode will automatically adjust the engine, transmission, brakes, wheel rotation speeds, and other vehicle systems per driver selection.
If the system sounds familiar, it’s because it already exists. Ford helped Land Rover develop a similar system, currently employed by the LR2 and LR4, prior to selling the British icon to Tata Motors in 2008. Other automakers are also working on more user-friendly traction-control systems.
Jim Holland, the 2011 Explorer’s chief engineer, expects around half of new Explorer buyers to opt for four driven wheels, although demand will vary per geographic region. With one out of every two buyers ready to select four-wheel drive, he explained the importance of incorporating a friendlier system to the Associated Press.
“People…want an SUV to have the capability to go off-road, but because they don’t do it a lot, they don’t know how,” he said. “We just want them to feel capable.”
The dial ensures drivers won’t have to adjust more than one button, while a screen within the instrument cluster will notify drivers which mode they have selected. The switch’s center will also house a button for the hill-descent system, also new to the 2011 Explorer.
Todd Hoevener, New Explorer Vehicle Dynamics manager for Ford, highlights TMS on the Youtube video, Next Generation Ford Explorer: Traction Management System (TMS). Ford has stayed mum on details surrounding its next-generation Explorer, the unibody remake of its sport-utility vehicle that formerly represented the segment. Full-scale production is scheduled to commence at Ford’s Torrance Avenue plant soon, with sales starting towards the end of this year.
Be sure to check back for more information on the 2011 Ford Explorer as details unfold.
Source: Associated Press