I am in my mid 60's, & have driven muscle cars, subarus (lots of them), suburbans and pickups. I live in the foothills west of Denver @ 8000 feet.
So far this fall we have had about 20" of snow between two different snowfalls.
Although our new flex (purchased in early september) is not a high profile car, and it does not have dedicated 4 wheel drive, it has handled what nature has thrown at it. (we have an avalanche for the deep snow).
I LOVE this car, which is beyond my feelings about the many other cars I have owned.
It has great torque, and acceleration.
It has good gas mileage for its size (19 / 24 so far).
And, it is much cooler than I expected (gets lots of thumbs up)
The interior layout, and quality / the multi-sunroofs / the very quiet, and manageable ride and handling.
I drive about 15 miles each way for my work on curves, and with an almost 3,000 foot elevation change.
The mileage remains good, and the performance is more than up to the challenge of our foothills.
The stability control absolutely flattens out the curves.
I don't know that I would term my comments as improvements.
Rather, my suggestion to ford would be:
Keep this car in your line-up in essentially its current configuration.
Keep it ahead of currenet design trends. Keep working at creating a niche car that generates buzz about your brand.
Continue to throw the latest gadgets into the car.
Don't let your explorer brand set the standard.
This model is expensive, but it is not stodgie (sp) or formal.
So, give your customers the best of the latest "cool" stuff.
It should continue to be eccletic (sp).
Don't let it be blended into the rest of the product line.