yeah, it is a shame about the unibody deal, but I drove one, and man are they nice.
there's no market for body on frame midsize suv's. people don't want them anymore. the last generation was a terrible idea, having independent rear suspension with a real frame. that for me was their downturn. this new generation is the step ford meant to take in 2002 with the explorer, but was too lazy/cheap/whatever. It's what the majority of people want, and Ford knows it. they are practicing good business technique, wether we like it or not.
people don't make/buy big block fullsize sedans anymore, its the way the industry works.
as for the flex, edge, & escape, kill one of those. they have no history, and small name recognition. they are of little value to Ford's lineup.
I'd rather have this Explorer in production, which performs a certain duty 100%, than the previous generation ones, that did not know what they wanted to be, lost somewhere between errand runner and truck-like sports utility.
but for the record, my favorite is the gen 1 explorer. king of suv's right there.