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The 2011 Ford Explorer V6 offers 25mpg highway

When Ford Motor Company announced that the new 2011 Ford Explorer would feature a unibody construction over the traditional body-on-frame style of the previous Explorers, they cited that this new lightweight chassis would help the full sized SUV achieve 25% better fuel economy than the previous version and thanks to the EPA, that claim has been verified.

The 2011 Ford Explorer front wheel drive models equipped with the 3.5L V6 and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission offers 17mpg around town and an impressive 25mpg on the open road. 25mpg is exactly 25% better than the 20mpg offered by the previous Explorer on the highway and the 17mpg around town is 21% better than the last generation of the full sized SUV. For those who opt for the all wheel drive setup mated to the same engine and transmission, the 2011 Ford Explorer still gets an impressive 23mpg on the highway and the same 17mpg around town.

Ford shook up the industry a bit when they introduced the 2011 Explorer with unibody construction, boasting of the ability to tow 5,000lbs but now that Dodge has introduced the 2011 Durango, the full sized sport ute battle is heating up. Like the Explorer, the new Durango is built on a unibody chassis but the optional 5.7L Hemi in the Durango allows new Dodge owners to tow 7,400lbs thanks to the 360 available horsepower and 390lb-ft of torque. Even if 2011 Durango buyers select the 3.6L Pentastar V6, they still get the same 290hp as the Explorer along with 5 more pounds of torque, with the other attributes of the Durango allowing it to tow 6,200lbs.

The EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2011 Dodge Durango have not yet been released but we can expect them to be very similar to the numbers for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee which shares the architecture and drivetrain lineup with the new Durango. The 2011 Grand Cherokee V6 models get 16 around town and 23 on the highway with a rear wheel drive configuration (not available on the 2011 Explorer) and when you check the box for the all-wheel-drive system the mileage drops to 16/22. For those who want bigger power, the 5.7L Hemi in the new Jeep yields 14mpg around town and 20 on the highway with a rwd layout and the 4-wheel drive package drops the mileage to 13 and 19.

Should the numbers from the 2011 Jeep carry over to the 2011 Durango, Ford will have a slight advantage in fuel economy although the new Explorer has far less available power and towing capacity than the Durango. Ford is planning on unveil an EcoBoost drivetrain for the new Explorer soon – perhaps that will pack the punch to even out the battle for the top full-sized SUV?