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Ford's fast-braking stability control debuts on 2011 Explorer

Posted by Bill Griffith  June 30, 2010 10:25 AM

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2011-Ford-Explorer-Concept.jpg

(Ford)

The 2008 Explorer America concept, above, hints at the car-based 2011 Explorer due this year.

Many times when exiting a highway, you get the feeling that the corners are a bit tight.

That's not surprising, given that many exit ramps were designed 50 or more years ago when the speed limits were more like 50. Now when people regularly exceed the 65-mile-per-hour limit, then brake suddenly for an exit, those ramps get a bit dangerous. Each year, they're the site of 50,000 crashes on United States roads.

The high center of gravity on light trucks and SUVs only compounds the problem, one of the reasons why the government has mandated stability control be standard starting with the 2012 model year.

Ford has taken it a step further by upgrading its AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control) with a feature called "Curve Control."

The system will be introduced with the coming 2011 Ford Explorer and anticipates when a driver is entering a curve too quickly and the vehicle is starting to "push"; that is, not turn as quickly as the steering wheel is asking.

Curve Control senses the situation and can both reduce power and apply braking to each wheel individually to prevent a rollover and cut up to 10 mph of speed in one second.

It's as much of a safety feature as it is a safeguard against negative press. Ford's still reeling over the Firestone recall ten years ago, in which faulty tires (or a faulty car design, whichever you believe) caused the top-heavy Explorer to roll over at high speeds.

Toyota had a scare in April when a 2010 Lexus GX 460 that Consumer Reports drove slid wide during a decreasing-radius turn, prompting the magazine to publish a "Don't Buy" rating and yet another recall for the troubled automaker. The latest stability control on the GX cuts in earlier to avoid such harrowing maneuvers.

The 2011 Explorer — now a unibody design as opposed to a heavier, taller body-on-frame — also will have several other new technologies, including inflatable rear seatbelts, next-generation adaptive cruise control and collision warning with braking support, upgraded pressure-based airbag technology, and — similar to Land Rover — a terrain selector for the four-wheel-drive system.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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