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One would think that a company like Ford who sells over a million half-ton pickups per year, many with the quite capable FX4 package, and incorporate some of those ideas into their Land Rover brand. Unfortunatly, that's too obvious and common sensical of a solution. Instead, the new Disco, LR's last remaining true SUV (apart from the Defender which isn't of course isn't imported to the States) will be based on the current Explorer, complete with an IRS.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Explorers or IRS's, the former is a wonderful soccer mommy car and the latter makes my Intrepid handle great, but neither should be ever seen in one of the world's expedition vehicles (and this is coming from a long-time Jeep owner). First of all, the Explorer platform isn't a great platform to begin with. The body-on-frame design makes the cars too heavy for city driving but the IRS makes them next to useless on anything more challenging then a dirt road. The platform has already seen it's first casualty, the Lincoln Aviator, which will be canceled in '05. Word of advice to any Ford Execs if they read this, if something fails, don't use it again. If something's working, improve on it, and sell it to the same clientelle.
Second, the Independent Rear Suspension. Not to try to sound poetic, but I think the incorporation of an IRS on an SUV (an H1 being the exception) automatically dooms the car as a mommy mobile. Many people bought the Disco simply to a vehicle that you could turn on the TV and see it blazing through the Sahara or being floated on a raft through the Amazon. When was the last time you saw an Explorer leave the pavement? These same people already HAD a choice before to buy a "wussy" SUV and guess what, they chose a Land Rover. That being said, there is a good chance they ,or others like them, will again choose a Land Rover. I simply do not understand why one would want to take that choice away and replace it with nothing more than a glorified Explorer?
So, rather than complaining without a solution, here is my idea for Ford. There are over a million F-150's being sold per year. That tells you something: you must be doing something right. Take the new F-150 platform, shorten it (the Disco only has just over a 100 inch wheel base), and give it an IFS and a live axle in the rear standard using the Rancho shocks from the FX4 package, with a live axle up front as either a no charge option or part of a greater off road package. That way, you'll be satisfying two birds with one stone. First, you'll make the soccer mommies happy by giving them the go-anywhere feeling of owning a truly capable SUV that's still managable in the city. Also, you'll make enthusiasts happy by giving them an improved version of their beloved truck rather than trying to ramming a rebadled, overpriced Explorer down their throats all the while trying to convince them that it's still "the real thing".
Just my humble opinion.