Bob Lutz’s Ford Explorer Forever Altered the SUV Landscape
During Bob Lutz’s short stay at Ford’s truck division he forever changed the light-duty 4-door SUV market developing the Explorer to take on Jeep’s popular Cherokee. This moment in Ford history from the late-1980’s through the 1990’s was brought to life recently by fascinating Automotive News expose honoring Jeep’s 75th Anniversary this year.
Conclusively the report by Richard Truett stated Jeep has become the most copied American brand in the world. Jeeps have been a major factor changing the landscape of SUVs and other light-duty off-road vehicles in many segments. This brings up the age old saying, “Competition breeds innovation.” For it was the Jeep Cherokee’s success that led Ford to sculpting an entirely new vehicle for their lineup turning out the Explorer to compete with the trend of affordable light-duty four-door SUVs.
Originally the Explorer project was penned as newer larger Bronco II with the intent to continue that model line adding a couple more doors to directly attack Jeep’s Cherokee. Lutz had no idea the research and design would eventually lead them into a whole new territory.
Lutz recalls, “We didn’t call it the Explorer then, we called it the four-door Bronco II. Originally it was just going to be the Bronco II we all remember — narrow and high, but with an extended wheelbase and two more doors, and it looked like it was born in a hallway. It was really this long, tall thin thing. I said, “Look guys, … if we’re going to make this thing work, we’ve got to have a wider vehicle with more track width, and it’s got to be demonstrably bigger than the Cherokee.”
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