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Ford Explorer

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About Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is widely regarded as the catalyst that started America's love affair with the SUV that began in the early 1990s. Certainly there were SUVs before the Explorer, but they were mostly utilitarian in nature. The Explorer was the first go-to SUV for the Everyman. Throughout its life, the Ford Explorer has delivered versatility, a reasonable amount of comfort, affordability and, perhaps most importantly, more style than a station wagon or minivan. During much of the '90s, Ford was consistently selling more than 400,000 Explorers a year.

As if part of a Greek tragedy, however, the Explorer became embroiled in controversy at the start of the new millennium. Models fitted with certain Firestone tires were found to have higher than average instances of tire failure and subsequent rollover crashes. Though the Ford SUV was largely exonerated in subsequent analysis, it never fully recovered in terms of sales or image. Ford has put all that in the past, however, and its latest Explorer boasts many improvements to driving dynamics and feature content. New or used, the justifiably popular Explorer should be part of any serious SUV search.

Current Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer is a large three-row SUV that can accommodate up to seven passengers. A 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower V6 is standard, while a more fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, 240-hp turbocharged four-cylinder is optional. Both engines are hooked up to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional for the V6.

There are three trim levels: base, XLT and Limited. Though even the base version comes well-equipped, moving up the list provides luxuries such as leather seating, the Sync voice command system, a rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry and upgraded audio systems. Optional highlights include a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, adaptive cruise control and even an automatic parallel-parking system. Stability control and a multitude of airbags are standard, with blind spot and collision warning systems available on upper trims.

In reviews, we've found the Ford Explorer to be one of the best choices for a family-oriented SUV. It drives well, gets very good fuel economy for its class and still retains the versatility that made people like SUVs in the first place. Fitted with most of its optional high-tech features, the Explorer is also one of the most advanced SUVs available, luxury brand or not. The Explorer's most notable downside is that it doesn't provide as much third-row and cargo space as some rival large crossover SUVs.

Used Ford Explorer Models
The current-generation Explorer bowed for 2011. Among the big changes was a switch from body-on-frame to unibody architecture for more carlike driving dynamics and improved space efficiency. Not much has changed since, although the turbocharged four-cylinder engine wasn't offered in that initial year.

The third-generation Explorer ran from 2002-'10. A longer wheelbase and an independent rear suspension allowed room for a fairly accommodating third-row seat while also improving ride and handling performance. A 210-hp V6 was joined by a new 4.6-liter 239-hp V8, and both were matched to a five-speed automatic transmission. Initial trim levels included the XLS, XLT and more upscale Limited and Eddie Bauer.

For 2003, a few new trim levels debuted, including XLS Sport and the NBX (no boundaries experience -- we're not making that up). The latter came with all-terrain tires, special trim and a Yakima roof rack. An off-road package became available as well, complete with a beefed-up suspension and skid plates. The following year, equipment levels were shuffled, stability control was made available on most trims (previously it could only be had on V8 models) and Limited and Eddie Bauer models got a quad bucket seating option. The stability control system was upgraded with roll stability control for 2005.

For 2006, a substantial update took place that included revised styling inside and out, an improved frame, enhanced safety systems and a more powerful V8. The latter made 292 hp (up from the previous 239 hp) though the 210-hp 4.0-liter V6 continued unchanged. The V8 came paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission. Safety equipment was upgraded, too, as front-seat side airbags and stability control were made standard on all Explorers. More recent Explorers benefited from the arrival of the voice-activated Sync music/phone interface (2008) and a revised navigation system (2009).

In general we liked this Explorer and found value in the excellent ride and handling characteristics, comfortable and roomy cabin and, on V8 models, strong power and high towing capacity. Though later outclassed by newer crossover SUVs in terms of comfort and design, this Explorer is a solid pick, particularly if you plan to use a V8 model for towing.

Model years 1995-2001 represent the second generation Explorer. Though neither as refined nor as powerful as the generation that followed, this group is still a respectable choice for an SUV. For most of this generation's run, three engines were available: a standard 160-hp V6, an optional 210-hp V6 ('97 and later) and a 210-hp 5.0-liter V8. The familiar XL, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited were the available trims, and there was a two-door Explorer known as the Sport. Editorial reviews of the time noted that the Explorer had a comfortable cabin and decent utility but fared poorly in terms of road handling and off-road ability.

The original Ford Explorer debuted in 1990 as a 1991 model, and it replaced the Bronco II in Ford's lineup. It achieved instant success in a market that it ultimately defined, if not created. Based on the Ford Ranger pickup, the original Explorer had the winning combination of size, style and utility that people wanted in an SUV. It came as the volume-selling four-door or a less popular two-door. Initially, just XLS and XLT trim levels were available. In 1992, an Eddie Bauer edition joined the lineup, and a Limited model followed shortly thereafter. For power, these Explorers had a 155-hp V6. Output went up slightly to 160 hp in 1993; this was also the year Ford made antilock brakes standard equipment.

Auto blog

Ford unveils next-gen S-Max in Europe

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:46:00 EST

Let's get this unfortunate though important tidbit out of the way right off the bat: The Ford S-Max isn't sold in the United States, and it's not coming here, at least not anytime soon. And so it's with our European friends in mind that we share this information about the next-gen S-Max (previewed about a year ago in concept form) that is set to debut all across Europe next year and will be shown off at the upcoming Paris Motor Show. Now, moving on...
As with the first-gen S-Max, the new model will boast seating for seven passengers, along with a decent amount of storage space, all packed into a relatively reasonably sized package. Powering the front wheels (or optionally all four) will be the buyer's choice of EcoBoost gasoline-turbocharged or turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines along with automatic and manual transmission options. Included in the mix is a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost with 160 horsepower, though the 240-horse 2.0 is likely to be seen as the headliner.
There are all kinds of new technologies on offer, ranging from Adaptive Steering to Dynamic LED Headlamps with Glare-Free Highbeams, and it's all housed inside new, more sleekly designed bodywork riding atop a chassis with new suspension architecture designed to make the S-Max a people-hauler that's still fun to drive. For all the details, we suggest you scroll down below to read through Ford's official press release.

NHTSA investigating Ford Fiesta for faulty door latches

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:00:00 EST

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary investigation on the 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta because the regulator has received 61 complaints from drivers, including one claim of an injury, about the doors on the subcompacts failing to latch and sometimes even flying open while driving. NHTSA has estimated that the problem could affect as many as 205,000 vehicles.
NHTSA is still gathering further data about the problem, but looking at the complaints so far, both front and rear doors appear to be potentially involved with the alleged failures. Among the reports, there are 12 claiming that the door opened while driving. Several also indicate the "Door Ajar" warning illuminating during this problem. The one purported injury happened when someone attempted to shut the door, and it bounced back.
Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker told Autoblog via email, "We are cooperating with NHTSA on this investigation, as we always do." Scroll down to read the report from NHTSA.

Ford previews new C-Max ahead of upcoming debut

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 15:32:00 EST

Looking at a Ford Focus? These days you can get it as a five-door hatch, a four-door sedan, or... that's all. European buyers don't even get our sedan, but they do get a wagon. And while the three-door hatch, two-door coupe and two-door cabrio have long since ended production, buyers around the world can also get the company's larger C-Max. And now, like the Focus upon which it's based, Ford is preparing to roll out a new version.
The tall wagon (or small minivan, depending on your perspective) is being treated to what Ford says is "an extreme makeover." Details to accompany the teaser image above remain few and far between, but following the spy shots we recently posted, it looks destined for some of the same visual updates as Ford rolled out on the 2015 Focus, with "even more refinement, practicality and technology."
Like the Mercedes B-Class, which is only available Stateside as an EV, American buyers can only get the C-Max in electrified form, either as the C-Max Hybrid or C-Max Energi. Overseas buyers, however, will be able to choose from a range of powertrain options and two wheelbase lengths - the longer of which boasts seven seats and the Grand C-Max name. (Remember when Chrysler did the same with its minivans?) Both are set to debut on September 17, so watch this space. After that, we'll expect to see it on display at the Paris Motor Show.

Former Ford CEO Mulally won't run for president

Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:59:00 EST

Alan Mulally will not be following his successful term as president and CEO of Ford Motor Company with a run at an even bigger presidency. Rumors that the 68-year-old former Boeing exec would make a run at the White House sprouted after his apparent dodging of a reporter's questions about a potential candidacy during a forum in Indianapolis.
"I really think it's important that we all pull together. We really need to pull together around a compelling vision for our country and a comprehensive strategy to do it and work together. We really need to do it," Mulally said at the conference, according to The Detroit News.
He's since clarified by saying, "[I'm] honored at the suggestion, but that is not a role I am considering."

Rowan Atkinson crashes at Goodwood Revival

Sun, 14 Sep 2014 09:01:00 EST

To quote Harry Hogge (played by Robert Duvall) in Days of Thunder, "rubbin, son, is racin'." That can mean some unfortunate damage to high-end racing machinery, which may be repaired easily enough in stock car racing, but when it comes to vintage racing, the stakes can be that much higher. And yet incidents do occur, like at this weekend's Goodwood Revival.
Among the many competitors taking part in the retro racing event in England was none other than Rowan Atkinson, the actor perhaps best known for playing Mr. Bean. Driving a classic Ford Falcon Sprint in the Shelby Cup event, Atkinson (pictured above at the 2012 revival) reportedly crashed head-on into another car on track.
According to reports, the two cars up spun out. The driver in between managed to avoid a pile-up, but Atkinson couldn't steer clear and hit the obstructing vehicle. Fortunately Rowan walked away unscathed (and, we imagine, in a humorous manner), but while we don't know how extensive the damage was to the Falcon, it was enough to take it out of the race.

Ford Recalling 70k Escape and Mariner Hybrids for cooling issue

Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:31:00 EST

Ford is recalling about 70,209 examples of the 2005-2008 Ford Escape Hybrid and the 2006-2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid because the cooling pumps for their hybrid systems could fail.
According to the company's defect notice, it's possible for the original "Motor Electronics Coolant (MEC) Pump" to wear out and fail, which would could cause the hybrid system to overheat. If this happens, the vehicle goes into a safety mode that takes away most or all of its power. However, braking and steering still operate normally. After cooling down, the affected models restart normally. The company says that it's not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this problem.
Ford will begin repairing the vehicles in late October, and dealers will be installing improved, brushless pumps on the affected models at no charge to owners. If drivers had their pumps fail before this recall, they can contact Ford for a possible reimbursement. Scroll down to read the recall announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or download the full defect notice as a PDF, here.

Vaughn Gittin Jr. takes his dog for a drift

Tue, 09 Sep 2014 19:58:00 EST


Vaughn Gittin Jr. spends a great deal of his workday going sideways, but he's usually alone in the endeavor. For a guy that is clearly a dog lover, we imagine that can get a bit lonely.
That won't be a problem for Gittin in this latest video, which features the racer hanging out with his good pal Brody (a dog) and everyone's favorite hot hatch, the Ford Fiesta ST.

Subaru Legacy pitted against Roadkill project cars

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 20:04:00 EST

There's an evergreen debate among auto enthusiasts about whether they would prefer to have the latest and greatest car of today or a certified classic from yesteryear. What if you had to further define that, though, and the choice was between a brand new 2015 Subaru Legacy or a turbocharged Datsun 240Z with a hatch that wouldn't close? Roadkill aimed to find out that and more in one of its best videos to date.
According to the hosts, Subaru came to them, handed over some money and challenged Roadkill's project cars against its latest Legacy. The result is every bit as good (or better) than any automotive-themed show you could find on television.
Things start simple with a figure-eight race in a rodeo arena with the Subaru taking on Roadkill's 1968 Ford Ranchero, originally built for ice racing. From there the Legacy races a 1968 Dodge Charger with no windows around and off-road rally stage. Finally, the Subie goes head-to-head against the Rotsun, the aforementioned turbocharged 240Z, through an abandoned neighborhood. Plus, there's a bonus drag race challenging them all.

Ford C-Max spied with fresh updates

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:45:00 EST

The Ford C-Max hatchback looks to be getting a few cosmetic updates, as evidenced in this latest set of spy photos. Like the smaller Focus, which also received a nip/tuck for the 2015 model year, the C-Max appears to be getting a revised front fascia with slimmer headlamps and a more, shall we say, Aston Martin-like grille. Around back, there looks to be a new bumper with redesigned taillamps, as well.
In other markets, the C-Max people-mover is available with a range of powertrains, but here in the US, it exists either as a traditional gas-electric or plug-in hybrid. The C-Max's fuel economy has been a particular topic of interest lately, with its official fuel economy ratings having been lowered twice since the vehicle's launch. Sales initially suffered a bit following this fiasco, though numbers have since leveled out. It's unclear if Ford is working on any powertrain tweaks for the updated C-Max seen here, however.
Ford has likely spruced up the hatch's interior, as well, though we don't have photos of that at this time. Mum's the word on when we'll see the new C-Max, but our best guess is that it'll arrive sometime in the next year.

Ford F-450 claims best-in-class towing, company abandons practice of removing items to boost payload number

Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:30:00 EST

The ongoing heavy-duty truck battle between Ford and Ram is showing no signs of slowing down. The Blue Oval is trying to remove at least one point of contention between the two brands by testing its 2015 F-450 Super Duty using the Society of Automotive Engineers J2807 towing standard, which Ram also uses. In the new evaluation, the F-450 is rated at a max towing capacity of 31,200 pounds. That's an identical amount as under Ford's own, previous test.
"We leave no doubt with customers that the F-450 pickup truck has best-in-class towing of 31,200 pounds - whether tested using our own internal towing standards or SAE J2807," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president for Global Product Development, in the company's release.
At the same time, Ford is also changing how it calculates the F-450's payload. Instead of using its minimum curb weight as before, the brand is now using the truck's base curb weight. The revision lowers the pickup's rating to 5,300 pounds, compared to 5,450 pounds previously. The company said in its announcement that the reason for this is "aligning its payload rating practices with other manufacturers to make it easier for customers to compare vehicles." General Motors made a similar switch for its pickups in August.