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Mike Stevens | Apr 15, 2010

THE UPCOMING 2011 Ford Explorer will drop the current Control Trac traction control system, with a version of Land Rover's Electronic Traction Control to feature in four-wheel-drive models.

Speaking with the Associated Press, Jim Holland, the Explorer's chief engineer confirmed that the technology, developed jointly by the two carmakers when Ford still owned the British company, will improve the Explorer's off-road ability.

Holland added that while the average Explorer driver doesn't take the SUV off-road, they don't want to have to adjust a lot of settings when they do hit the trails.

"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," Holland told the Associated Press. "We just want them to feel capable."

With the Land Rover traction control system, a single dial in the cabin gives drivers the option to choose between four settings depending on the surface conditions, while additional systems such as Hill Descent Control help to maintain control on treacherous slopes.

Holland expects that, depending on the region, around half of the new Explorer's buyers choose the four-wheel-drive model.

Ford has yet to reveal further technical details for the new Explorer, but the SUV is expected to draw power from the new 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6, producing 265kW and 475Nm of torque.

With a design clearly inspired by the Ford Explorer America concept revealed at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the new Explorer bears styling similar to the smaller Ford Edge and the 2009 Ford Escape - both North American models not available in Australia.

While the Explorer has been absent from the Australian market for some time, a return to local showrooms could be on the cards.

Ford Australia is committed to the Territory until 2016, but with the 'One Ford' plan being pushed by CEO Alan Mulally, its longer term future remains to be seen.

The Explorer won't make its way back to Australia before then, but as a capable off-roader, there is every likelihood that it in one form or another, the American SUV will have a future in Australia.

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