Ford Explorer

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Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer
Manufacturer:Ford Motor Company
Class:mid-size SUV
Production:1991 — present
Predecessor:Ford Bronco II
Mark 1
Production:19911994
Body Styles:2-door wagon
4-door wagon
Engines:4.0 L Cologne V6
Similar:Mazda Navajo
Related:Ford Ranger
Mark 2
Production:19952001
(Mountaineer/Explorer)
20012005
(Sport Trac)
Body Styles:2-door wagon
4-door wagon
4-door pickup
Engines:4.0 L Cologne V6
4.9 L V8
Similar:Mercury Mountaineer
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Related:Ford Ranger
Mazda B-Series
Mark 3
Missing image
2004_Mercury_Mountaineer.jpg
2004 Mercury Mountaineer

Shown: Mercury Mountaineer
Production:20022005
Body Styles:4-door wagon
Engines:4.0 L Cologne V6
4.6 L Modular V8
Similar:Mercury Mountaineer
Lincoln Aviator
Related:Land Rover LR3
Mark 3.5
Production:2006 — present
Body Styles:4-door wagon
Engines:4.0 L Cologne V6
4.6 L Modular 3-valve V8
Similar:Mercury Mountaineer
Lincoln Aviator
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Related:Land Rover LR3
This article is part of the Ford automobile series.


The Ford Explorer is a sport utility vehicle (SUV) sold mostly in North America that has been built by the Ford Motor Company since 1991 and is still in production as of 2005. It has been the best selling vehicle in its class each year since its introduction, and is one of the vehicles instrumental in turning the SUV from a special-interest vehicle into one of the most popular vehicle types on the road. The Explorer has also been involved in controversy, after a spate of fatal rollover accidents involving Explorers fitted with Firestone tires.

Both two-door Explorer Sport and four-door models of Explorer have been sold. Part-time four wheel drive is an available option, and since 1995 this has been a 'shift on the fly' system with full protection against being engaged at too high a speed.

Contents

1991

1991 was the first year for the Ford Explorer. It was based on the Ford Ranger compact pickup and was equipped with a 4.0 L 155 hp (116 kW) V6 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission. There were both 2-door and 4-door bodystyles with available 2- or 4-wheel drive. Explorers came in 4 trim levels: base XL, XLT, Sport, and upscale Eddie Bauer. A 5-speed manual transmission was added for 1992, and the engine lost 10 hp (7.5 kW). 15 hp (11 kW) was added for 1993 for a total of 160 hp (119 kW). The Limited version was also added for 1993. Available only in the 4-door style, it was even more upscale than the Eddie Bauer version. It featured automatic headlights, foglamps, an automatic transmission as standard equipment, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a center roof console with compass and outside thermometer, special wheels, and a special grill.

1995

The Explorer saw significant exterior, interior and suspension updates in 1995. The former "Twin Traction Beam" (TTB) front suspension was replaced with a more car-like "Independent Front Suspension (IFS). The Ford model lineup now consisted of two models: 2-door Explorer Sport and 4-door Explorer. Two more trim lines were added as well, the Limited was a higher end 4 door, while the Eddie Bauer trim level was replaced with Expedition on 2-door Explorers (1995 only, the name would be reused on the 1997 Ford Expedition). A 210 hp (157 kW) 4.9 L "5.0" V8 engine was added for 1996 along with real all wheel drive on the Eddie Bauer and Limited in 1997. A more-powerful SOHC 205 hp (153 kW) engine came as an option in 1997 along with an optional 5-speed automatic. A Mercury twin added, the Mercury Mountaineer was added in 1997 as well.

The 1995 Explorer was the first production vehicle to use a neon center high mount stop lamp. This was replaced with more conventional lamps when the liftgate was refreshed in 1998. Another facelift came in 1999, at which time the XLS name replaced XL as the base model .

Sport Trac

2001 saw the introduction of the Explorer Sport Trac, which put a small pickup bed behind the four normal SUV doors. The 2-door Explorer Sport also received the Sport Trac's more-rugged nose. The 4.0 L Cologne V6 was the only engine option. This generation Sport Trac remained in production through June of 2005, with no 2006 model year vehicles produced.

2002

The 4 door Explorer and companion Mercury Mountaineer were redesigned entirely in 2002, losing all kinship with the Ford Ranger and the Explorer Sport. Engines were either the SOHC 4-liter V6 (210 hp/157 kW) or a 4.6 L 239 hp (178 kW) V8. with the 203 hp (151 kW) 4.0 L v6 still available on the Explorer Sport. Both manual and automatic 5-speed transmissions and 2-, 4-, and all-wheel drive are availabile. Trim lines were the base Sport Value, Sport Choice, XLS, Sport Premium, XLT, Eddie Bauer, and top Limited.

All three trucks use code U6 (for 4x2), U7 (for 4x4), and U8 (for AWD) in the 5th, 6th, and 7th positions of the VIN.

2006

The Explorer and Mountaineer are updated for 2006 with a new interior, redesigned rear suspension, and power-folding 3rd-row seats. Power running boards (like those on the Lincoln Navigator) that retract when the vehicle is in motion are an option. The 4.6 L 2-valve V8 was replaced by a 292 hp (218 kW) 3-valve variant, and a six-speed automatic transmission is available with this engine as well.

Sport Trac

Despite slow sales, a new Sport Trac will be added to the Explorer line in early 2006 for the 2007 model year. Unlike its predecessor, sold through 2005, it will feature the V8 engine as an option, and will be based on the new, larger Explorer platform.

A special 2007 SVT model called the Sport Trac Adrenalin will use a supercharged version of the 4.6 L Modular V8. It will be a successor to the F-Series Lightning pickup with 390 hp (291 kW) and 21 inch wheels.

Assembly Plants

The Explorer is assembled at two different plants. It is assembled in Louisville, Kentucky and Hazelwood, Missouri.

Ford Explorer Suppliers

A large number of companies are suppliers for materials and parts that make the Ford Explorer. Suppliers include Johnson Controls, Lear, Dana Corporation, and Visteon. See a complete list at List of Ford Explorer suppliers.

Firestone tire controversy

In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Ford and Firestone about the high incidence of tire failure on Ford Explorers fitted with Firestone tires. Ford investigated and found that several models of 15" Firestone tires (ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT) had very high failure rates, especially those made at Firestone's Decatur, Illinois plant.

The failures all involved tread separation—the tread peeling off followed often by tire disintegration. If that happened, and the vehicle was running at speed, there was a high likelihood of the vehicle leaving the road and rolling over. Many rollovers cause serious injury and even death; it has been estimated that over 250 deaths and more than 3,000 serious injuries resulted from these failures.

Ford and Firestone have both blamed the other for the failures, which has led to the severing of relations between the two companies. Firestone has claimed that they have found no faults in design nor manufacture, and that failures have been caused by Ford's recommended tire pressure being too low and the Explorer's design. Ford, meanwhile, point out that Goodyear tires to the same specification have a spotless safety record when installed on the Explorer. Ford's conclusions were confirmed by NHTSA in their report into the tire failures, published in October 2001.

Many outside observers tend towards blaming both parties; Firestone's tires being prone to tread separation and failure, and the Explorer being especially prone to rolling over if a tire fails at speed compared to other vehicles. However, a subsequent NHTSA investigation of real world accident data showed that the Ford Explorer was no more likely to roll over than any other SUV.

A product recall was announced, allowing Explorer owners to change the affected tires for others.

A large number of lawsuits have been filed against both Ford and Firestone, some unsuccessful, some settled out of court, and a few successfully. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have argued that both Ford and Firestone knew of the dangers but did nothing, and that specifically Ford knew that the Explorer was highly prone to rollovers. Ford deny these allegations.

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