NEW YORK – Most television commercials for off-road vehicles show them in rugged settings such as maneuvering California's infamous Rubicon Trail or climbing outrageously steep rocks in the mountains around Moab, UT..

However, the Ford Explorer, America's best-selling SUV, seems to be more at home in the office canyons of Manhattan and other urban streets, and with good reason. The New York tri-state region is the Explorer's top market nationally, Dan Corsetti, a Ford marketing executive, says at a press conference here.

The Explorer accounts for 15.3% of the overall SUV market in the U.S., according to WardsAuto data. The model enjoyed its best sales ever in 2000, when Ford sold 445,157 units. Deliveries are running half that total today.

The nationwide all-wheel-drive take rate for the Explorer is 52%, but surprisingly that figure soars to more than 90% in the New York region. The redesigned ’12 model, which has an average transaction price of $34,000, accounts for 8% of Ford’s sales in the New York area.

The Explorer's nearest competitor, the Honda Pilot, enjoys its best success in the Boston and New York areas, a Honda spokesman says. Not only are Pilot sales highest in those regions, but about 70% of the brand’s SUV sales are 4-wheel-drive models because of the demanding terrain.

Other leading SUV brands have similar success in the New York area, which is the top sales market for the Toyota Highlander, according to Polk Registrations, with Los Angeles as No.2.

New York is the second-best sales market for the Chevrolet Traverse, topped only by the Detroit area. But New York is the top region for the GMC Acadia.

The Buick Enclave, which is built on same platform as the Acadia and Traverse, also sells best in the New York area. A GM spokesman says AWD take rate is higher here than nationally for the three utilities.

Corsetti says 12% of the Explorer's conquest sales come out of premium brands, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Ford has high hopes for the continued success of its re-born SUV. With the Explorer’s 93% brand awareness, only the Ford F150 and Mustang are better known among consumers.

The Explorer also is the only model in the Ford portfolio to offer inflatable seatbelts as an option. Corsetti says the take rate has risen to 35%. The special seatbelts only are available with a blind-spot detection system for $500. To date, Ford has sold close to 50,000 sets of inflatable belts since the option was introduced last year.