2006 FORD EXPLORER LEADS ITS CLASS WITH NEW ADVANCED SAFETY TECHNOLOGIES
The 2006 Ford Explorer leads its class with 10 standard advanced safety technologies.
Seven of these 10 standard features are new to the mid-size SUV class, including four new adaptive technologies specifically designed for Ford's stringent internal safety targets. The 2006 Explorer provides the most active and passive safety features in its class.
"The 2006 Ford Explorer's suite of available safety features is unmatched in its class," says Sue Cischke, vice president, Environmental and Safety Engineering. "It offers active safety technology — including confidence-inspiring handling and braking combined with AdvanceTrac® with industry-exclusive Roll Stability Control — to help prevent accidents. In the case of an accident, the 2006 Explorer offers enhanced rollover side-impact protection, and four new adaptive safety technologies that help tailor frontal-impact protection based on crash severity, occupant size and safety belt usage."
In fact, the new Explorer meets all known federal frontal- and side-impact crash requirements through 2010.
Explorer already achieves one of the best impact-protection ratings among mid-sized SUVs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2005 model-year New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) data. The 2006 model is expected to improve on that rating.
"The new Explorer builds on a legacy of introducing industry-first safety technologies, with a comprehensive approach to help drivers avoid dangerous situations and help provide increased protection in accidents," says Cischke.
Class-exclusive adaptive safety technologies allow for optimized occupant protection
Explorer's safety-feature leadership among mid-size SUVs has become a significant purchase consideration for customers, says Chris Feuell, SUV group marketing manager:
"Safety has become one of the top 'why-buys' among SUV buyers. The 2006 Explorer delivers safety technologies that are not available in any other SUV in its class. One of our biggest communications priorities will be explaining to customers how the complex system of safety features provides adaptive protection. Protection not just tailored to the force of the impact, but protection tailored to fit the occupants' size and position."
To meet federal safety regulations and Ford's even more stringent internal safety targets, the 2006 Explorer offers the following advanced safety technologies as standard equipment:
Advanced Restraints Module and Dual Front Crash Sensors: An advanced restraint module is mounted at the center tunnel of the vehicle. It collects an array of input signals to detect both the impact severity and the seating position and size of the driver and front occupant. This information is processed using sophisticated computer algorithms to determine appropriate levels of protection by tailoring the adaptive technologies. Two crash sensors on the front structure allow for enhanced impact severity and crash mode discrimination.
Five-Level Front-Passenger Sensing System: Incorporated into the structure of the passenger seat, this advanced sensor is able to detect the size of the occupants based on five categories: empty seat, child presence, small adult presence, medium adult presence and large adult presence.
Adaptive Load-Limiting Seatbelt Retractors: Explorer's adaptive load-limiting retractors are capable of providing up to three resistance levels. Based on input from the crash and occupant sensors, the restraints control module electronically adapts the amount of belt payout and timing of the payout, depending on the specific needs of each occupant. This helps to further enhance crash energy management while helping to reduce forces on the occupant.
Front-Passenger Seat Adaptive Air Bag Tether: The passenger front air bag has an internal fabric tether that creates a smaller air bag size and shape when necessary. A pyrotechnically activated mechanism can release the tether when a full air bag is necessary.
Adaptive Air Bag Venting: Diverts some of the gas from the air bag inflator through a vent outside of the air bag itself. Adjusting the time the vents open adjusts the amount of gas vented, providing a less powerful air bag when it's sufficient to help protect the occupant.
Dual-Stage Front Air Bags: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 (FMVSS 208) requires that both belted and unbelted front passengers be provided with significant levels of protection in the event of a frontal collision. To help balance the needs of what are two quite different situations, the 2006 Explorer uses dual-stage front air bags. These employ inflators that offer lower or higher inflation levels that help tailor the development of the air bags to the severity of the crash situation.
Driver-Seat Position Sensor: This sensor monitors driver seat position to estimate the driver's size by his or her distance from the steering wheel. This information is used to determine inflator output, air-bag vent timing, safety-belt resistance level and the steering column energy absorption setting.
"Simply put, all safety features help manage the forces on the occupants during an impact," says Jeff Laya, Explorer crash safety supervisor. "Explorer's new adaptive safety features all work together to estimate the size of the occupant and impact severity, and are then tailored to manage those forces. If you think of it in a slow-motion sequence, the safety belts absorb some of the energy, then the air bag absorbs more, and then the stroking steering column absorbs even more. We can provide enhanced protection for a wide variety of circumstances and tailor the protection to each individual event."
Safety CanopyTM with "roll-fold" technology and enhanced rollover and side-impact protection
In addition, the 2006 Explorer features a comprehensive list of improvements to help further protect occupants during rollover or side-impact.
As with the previous model, the 2006 Explorer offers available Safety CanopyTM side air curtains that deploy in certain side-impact collisions, or if an impending rollover is detected to help protect front- and second-row outboard occupants. Safety CanopyTM side curtains remain inflated for several seconds after deployment to enhance protection during an extended crash event.
The air curtains feature "roll-fold" technology. If an occupant is improperly seated and resting his head against a window, the Safety CanopyTM is designed to slide between the glass and occupant as it inflates. A new front "sail panel" of fabric attached to the A-pillar further position the Safety CanopyTM.
Complementing the adaptive safety technologies, the Safety CanopyTM is redesigned to further enhance protection for varying occupant statures. For the front row, the Safety CanopyTM features a wider and taller inflation zone. The inflation zone in the second row is increased as well.
Also new for 2006 are standard side-impact air bags for the driver and front passenger. Mounted in the outboard side of each front seat, these air bags further enhance protection for the occupant's chest in the event of a side collision.
Explorer's armrests and the door trim also have been designed to help cushion the abdomen and lower torso during a side impact. And a four-inch-thick foam block installed between the exterior and interior door panels further helps manage side impact forces on the occupant's hips.
AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control offers industry-exclusive active safety
The old adage that the best defense is a good offense is certainly applicable to automotive safety: The best accident protection is preventing the accident in the first place. Thus, the 2006 Explorer features active safety features not available from any other competitor.
Explorer's agile handling and confident braking provide an added measure of safety and security during emergency maneuvers.
Contributing to the confident nature of the Explorer is the standard four-wheel, four-channel antilock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD). The ABS controls the front wheels independently and the rear wheels in tandem during heavy braking — to further help the driver maintain control of the vehicle.
The ABS with EBD employs dynamic proportioning, measuring braking force versus traction and allocating brake pressure to the wheels that have the best grip even before the ABS system kicks in. This helps reduce the braking distance. Explorer's exemplary braking system, paired with standard Roll Stability Control, offer a comprehensive active safety package to help prevent accidents from occurring.
This active stability enhancement system offers a significant difference when compared to typical systems. While typical systems are designed to control yaw or spinout only, Ford's AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control goes one important step further.
It can enhance the vehicle's resistance to rolling over.
Most systems use one gyroscopic yaw rate sensor as they work to control yaw. AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control utilizes a second gyroscopic roll rate sensor to determine the vehicle's body roll angle and roll rate. If this unique roll rate sensor detects a significant roll angle, the system applies additional countermeasures — such as applying brakes to one or more wheels or reducing engine power — to enhance vehicle rollover resistance. Ford Motor Company has more than 80 patents and patent applications pending worldwide for its industry-leading Roll Stability Control system.
AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control is an integrated system of four major components that includes:
Anti-lock Brake System (ABS): ABS regulates brake pressure to help prevent wheel lockup when trying to stop the vehicle.
Traction Control: When the system detects a loss of traction, this quickly responds by reducing engine power when necessary and selectively applying brake force to the slipping wheel while transferring power to the opposite wheel.
Yaw Control: When understeer (which leads to skidding) or oversteer (which leads to fishtailing) is detected, the system selectively applies individual brakes and modifies engine power to maximize control.
Vehicle Roll Motion Sensor: This is the Ford-exclusive gyroscopic roll rate sensor that helps monitor vehicle roll motion approximately 150 times per second. If it detects a significant roll angle, it automatically engages AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control to help keep all four wheels safely on the ground.
The system is automatically engaged every time the vehicle is started. However, a switch allows the driver to turn the system off during those rare times when she or he may want the wheels to spin freely to help the tires "dig" for traction, such as during low-speed off-road driving or when traveling through deep snow or mud.
Ford is the first automaker to develop AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control technology. Ford is making the technology available to other companies and automakers through licensing agreements because we believe this technology has the potential of producing significant real-world safety benefits.
All-new stiffer frame, continues innovative bumper compatibility
The 2006 Explorer safety enhancements include an all-new frame. Its increased strength and rigidity provide increased levels of refinement and resistance to noise, vibration and harshness. The front crush rails are three inches longer than before, providing even more energy absorption during front or offset-front crashes to further enhance occupant protection.
Ford was the first to market with crash structures on SUVs that are compatible with passenger cars. When the Explorer was redesigned for the 2002 model year, the front bumper was dropped nearly two inches, to better align with the crash structures of passenger cars. The 2006 Explorer retains that design, which helps to reduce damage to cars in common slow-speed incidents and allow lower vehicles' energy-absorbing bumpers to do their work.
The all-new frame works with Ford's industry-exclusive adaptive safety technologies to help provide greater protection for vehicle occupants.
Tradition of safety leadership continues
Another Explorer safety feature is a standard tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). The Explorer uses a sophisticated system utilizing radio-frequency (RF) transmitters. These transmitters are mounted inside the wheel, monitoring actual tire pressure every 30 seconds. If a low-pressure situation is detected, a warning is illuminated on the Explorer's improved message center on the instrument panel. Further, as it monitors each wheel independently, the Explorer's TPMS is able to detect pressure loss before it affects vehicle handling and safety.
In addition, Explorer is available with a number of safety and security features, completing its safety packaging, including:
BeltMinderTM: The most effective way to help save lives on the roadways is one of the simplest safety technologies on the market — the safety belt. Ford's standard BeltMinderTM system provides drivers with a gentle reminder (in the form of a flashing icon on the instrument panel and an audio tone) to buckle up. According to federal estimates, every percentage point improvement in safety belt usage nationwide can save an estimated 280 lives a year.
SecuriLockTM passive anti-theft system: Explorer comes standard with SecuriLockTM, designed to help prevent the engine from being started unless a coded key programmed to the vehicle is used. There are 72 million billion possible key code combinations.