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Ford Motor Company's 2015 Explorer Is Raising Eyebrows

What's the big deal?
There are a couple of eyebrow-raising statistics regarding the Ford Explorer. First, if you had to guess which brand people were trading in for the Explorer Sport trim, what would you guess? Maybe a GMC utility vehicle, a Chevrolet product, or even a popular Jeep SUV?

Those would be good guesses, but that's not entirely the case. In fact, 15% of Explorer sales are coming from owners of luxury brands that largely include Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Many certainly wouldn't have guessed owners of those prestigious, and very successful, luxury brands would be trading in for an Explorer, even if it is a higher-end Sport trim package.

Despite that being surprising for me, Ford wasn't shocked in the least: "We aren't surprised by the luxury brand trade-ins for Explorer Sport," said Matt Zuehlk, Explorer brand manager, in a press release. "It offers world-class performance, comfort and technology at a more affordable price than traditional luxury competitors, especially in largely import luxury markets like New York and Los Angeles."

That shows Ford's brand image is improving and attracting more higher-end consumers.


Ford's 2015 Explorer Sport. Source: Ford Motor Company.

Show me the money
According to Ford, nearly 25% of Explorer and 40% of Explorer Sport consumers are earning more than $150,000 a year -- significantly higher than the overall brand's 17% mark. It's not a surprise that Ford is thrilled to be attracting more affluent customers, as those car buyers love to tack on extra options and features, which has pushed the Explorer's price point higher.

While having more affluent customers is nice, Ford is just as thrilled about attracting a younger consumer that the automaker can potentially keep around for multiple purchases -- for context, Ford remains the auto industry's leader in consumer loyalty.

Consider that in 2008 Ford ranked fourth in brand consideration with millennials -- roughly 80 million consumers born between the early 1980s and early 2000s -- and by the end of last year had jumped to first place, according to Maritz Research, a St. Louis-based marketing research company.

I bet you can guess which specific Ford vehicle made the largest jump in consideration from younger buyers. Yes, indeed, the Ford Explorer made the largest improvement in terms of buyer consideration.

Ultimately, it's clear that Ford's new vehicles over the last half-decade have made a huge impact -- think of the popular Fusion and Escape -- and redesigns of the Explorer, Mustang, and F-150, among the many other vehicles being launched globally this year, look to take Ford to new sales heights over the next few years.
While Ford Explorer Sport is making progress with premium buyer conquests, I can't help wondering if this is a result of the unremarkable MKT occupying a spot that should have been taken by an Explorer variant.
 

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I suppose that goes to show that the Explorer's not bad, for a front-driver
 

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We went from a Buick Enclave CXL (fully loaded) to an Explorer Limited last year and love it. In 13K miles there have been zero defects that needed to be addressed on the car. The electronics and comfort and ahead of even the new Enclave and the best part the sticker price with more features was $4K less than the Enclave. The only thing I miss in the Enclave was the foot well space - there is more there but that is it.

Sadly our '08 Enclave was in the shop constantly throughout the 6 years of ownership.

Ford has a really impressive package in the Explorer - the Sport with its twin turbo V6 is not matched by many other brands if that is something you want and they have continued to evolve the product every model year.
 
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I suppose that goes to show that the Explorer's not bad, for a front-driver
Or that people don't give two SH**s which wheels are doing the work.

I say Kudos to Ford for the Explorer. It's been incredibly successful
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's pretty obvious that Luxury Buyers are avoiding the Lincoln MKT in preference for the Explorer Sport,
I think that's a compelling argument right there for a Lincoln Aviator, Peter Horbury's MKT doesn't work..

Explorer Sport is a great package, so it's easy to see the attraction.
 

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It's pretty obvious that Luxury Buyers are avoiding the Lincoln MKT in preference for the Explorer Sport,
I think that's a compelling argument right there for a Lincoln Aviator, Peter Horbury's MKT doesn't work..

Explorer Sport is a great package, so it's easy to see the attraction.


Nom nom...
 

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As usual with financial "analysis" of cars I find the article lacking as just saying 15% German trade in. Is it young folks who had a 3 Series who got married and need a bigger car, but the X5 is way to expensive? Or is it X5 owners who think the Explorer is a better value?

What are the similar trade in percentages for the Acadia, etc. to put this into context. It's a great story for Ford if the Acadia and competition only gets 1% German trade ins, but if the Acadia is at 25% then the story isn't so great.

My gut tells me it's a good story for the Explorer, but there are a lot of questions the article could have answered.
 

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It's pretty obvious that Luxury Buyers are avoiding the Lincoln MKT in preference for the Explorer Sport,
I think that's a compelling argument right there for a Lincoln Aviator, Peter Horbury's MKT doesn't work..

Explorer Sport is a great package, so it's easy to see the attraction.
The MKT's failure has nothing to do with the Explorer's success, pretend it doesn't exist, just like Cadillac doesn't have a Lambda, does that take away from the success of the Enclave or Acadia?

An Explorer Limited was actually on my short list........... in the end the wife and I decide that "3rd row" was no longer a must, so I went with a MKX.


As usual with financial "analysis" of cars I find the article lacking as just saying 15% German trade in. Is it young folks who had a 3 Series who got married and need a bigger car, but the X5 is way to expensive? Or is it X5 owners who think the Explorer is a better value?

What are the similar trade in percentages for the Acadia, etc. to put this into context. It's a great story for Ford if the Acadia and competition only gets 1% German trade ins, but if the Acadia is at 25% then the story isn't so great.

My gut tells me it's a good story for the Explorer, but there are a lot of questions the article could have answered.
With that logic you can't give Cadillac any credit to ATS buyers that came from Chevrolet, because the ATS is just a small cheap-lease Cadillac.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The MKT's failure has nothing to do with the Explorer's success, pretend it doesn't exist, just like Cadillac doesn't have a Lambda, does that take away from the success of the Enclave or Acadia?
I'm sure Ford is pretending the MKT doesn't exist...even with this latest news, there's
no acknowledgement of its own elephant in the room MKT luxury brand offering.....

Aviator was actually split two ways between MKX and MKT, so in a way you're right but still,
can't help wondering if an Explorer based MKT would have been much more successful at luring
those luxury Utility buyers.


An Explorer Limited was actually on my short list........... in the end the wife and I decide that "3rd row" was no longer a must, so I went with a MKX.
Both great vehicles, I'm sure you'll have many happy miles in your MKX.
 

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They are employing a brilliant marketing strategy , offer models that represent an accepted trending style , add above the norm engines/drive trains and handling characteristics plus a performance over the top engine option model to bring in the youth market . The Fusion is number three in N. America , the Focus , Fiesta models are about the top sellers in Europe . This is a simple concept , but one which other companies are slow to encompass . They are forced to play catch up and this just helps Ford be the leader . Ford also severely limit the number of models produced and concentrate on quality improvements . The present Explorer model is years old and they just tweak it a bit each year and each year it gains more and more in stature and customer satisfaction . The Escape new model looks like it is mimicking the Honda CR V and is one of the top sellers in N. America . Simple , highly effective and frankly it makes the General look like the giant , slow moving corporate monstrosity it was for many years . There are some exceptions , but the whole overly managed complex is just out of date , it really is !!
 

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With that logic you can't give Cadillac any credit to ATS buyers that came from Chevrolet, because the ATS is just a small cheap-lease Cadillac.
Not sure what you mean. It's very important to understand numbers, you can't just take them at face value otherwise they can be very misleading. They also need to be put into context of how its competition is doing. Everyone is saying how great the German to Explorer trade in rate is, but we really don't know if it is based off the article, nor does it sound like the author did his homework. Without answering my questions it sounds more like a Ford written PR fluff piece or a stock analyst manipulating the market.

Plus why are these people trading in their BMW for the Ford? Is it because the Ford is better than the X5, just offers more value, or the 30 year old who could only afford a BMW because they lived at mommy and daddy's rent free finally moved out and needs something more practical and with rent can't afford a BMW? What are all these German cars being traded in? Are they 10+ year old used BMW's someone bought for $5,000 or 1 year old BMW's from the original owner? That's also a big difference.

And the same questions hold true for the ATS. It's also important to understand the numbers. One may take it as the wrong crowd is buying the ATS (Chevy trade in to buy an ATS), but is that true? I came from a Chevy to my ATS, but why? Until the ATS nothing Cadillac or Lincoln offered me was compelling enough to get me to buy and it's important for me to buy American.

You also need to see where 3 Series and A4 buyers come from. Based on what I see at work, many are 25 year old's living rent free at mommy and daddy's who traded in their used cars for their luxury car. Guess what their next car will be once they finally leave the nest? Probably a Chevy or a Honda. So are they "quality" luxury car clientele?

I think it's important to understand stuff like this.
 

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Not sure what you mean. It's very important to understand numbers, you can't just take them at face value otherwise they can be very misleading. They also need to be put into context of how its competition is doing. Everyone is saying how great the German to Explorer trade in rate is, but we really don't know if it is based off the article, nor does it sound like the author did his homework. Without answering my questions it sounds more like a Ford written PR fluff piece or a stock analyst manipulating the market.

Plus why are these people trading in their BMW for the Ford? Is it because the Ford is better than the X5, just offers more value, or the 30 year old who could only afford a BMW because they lived at mommy and daddy's rent free finally moved out and needs something more practical and with rent can't afford a BMW? What are all these German cars being traded in? Are they 10+ year old used BMW's someone bought for $5,000 or 1 year old BMW's from the original owner? That's also a big difference.

And the same questions hold true for the ATS. It's also important to understand the numbers. One may take it as the wrong crowd is buying the ATS (Chevy trade in to buy an ATS), but is that true? I came from a Chevy to my ATS, but why? My household income is above Cadillac's average (and BMW's), so am I not a quality Cadillac owner simply because I came from a Chevy? My reason is I've been financially "there" to own a luxury vehicle for a long time, but it is highly important for me to buy American. Until the ATS nothing Cadillac or Lincoln offered me was compelling enough to get me to buy. And I paid cash for my ATS. You also need to see where 3 Series and A4 buyers come from. Based on what I see at work, many are 25 year old's living rent free at mommy and daddy's who traded in their used cars for their luxury car. Guess what their next car will be once they finally leave the nest? Probably a Chevy or a Honda. So are they "quality" luxury car clientele?

I think it's important to understand stuff like this.
So your "angry" that lower skilled workers at your company "living at home" drive used BMW's....tisk tisk shame shame. While I work my ass off, have a "higher household income", and I paid cash for my ATS! I'm clearly the "quality luxury car clientele"! These kids look down on me in their used BMW's oh the humanity of it all......
 

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So your "angry" that lower skilled workers at your company "living at home" drive used BMW's....tisk tisk shame shame. While I work my ass off, have a "higher household income", and I paid cash for my ATS! I'm clearly the "quality luxury car clientele"! These kids look down on me in their used BMW's oh the humanity of it all......
Huh? I'm not angry, I don't really care. Nor did I say lower skilled, I said younger. I'm also frustrated that is all you took away from my post. As a matter of fact I feel bad for these kids as they sacrificed their future to look cool today. I put that as an example of why a person trading in a Chevy may not be a bad thing and that a decent chunk of the German buyers may not be "quality" as they will not be financially able to be a repeat buyer. I also modified my post based on your comment.

My point is that we need to understand the numbers be it GM, Ford or BMW and not just say how amazing the Ford Explorer is (and it is a good vehicle).
 
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