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Older Ford Explorer Overview And How To Buy At The Best Price
More than any other vehicle, it's really the midsize Ford Explorer that's responsible for America's love affair with SUVs that blossomed in the early 1990s. The Explorer delivered comfort, roominess, versatility and affordability, and all with a more attractive design than "ho hum" station wagons or minivans. The rest is history.
And by just about every measure, more recent Ford Explorers are far better. They're quieter, more powerful, more attractive, better equipped and safer.
Built on an advanced ladder-frame chassis with an independent rear suspension, the Explorer seats up to seven passengers or can carry a maximum of 85 cubic feet of cargo.
Still quite present in the secondhand market is the third-generation Explorer, produced for the 2002 through 2010 model years. This Explorer version has been very popular and also hasn't varied all that much over the years in terms of its primary characteristics, although 2004 and newer models have more available safety features.
Also of note for used Explorer shoppers, in 2006, there was a significant update that revised both interior and exterior styling, improved the frame, upgraded safety systems and added more power. And most recently, Explorers were enhanced with Ford's Sync music/phone interface in 2008 and a revised navigation system in 2009.
The 2002 - 2010 Explorer generation consisted primarily of four models: XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited. More standard equipment and luxury features are added progressively with each model. Stability control and antilock brakes (ABS) were standard on all models.
While there are slight feature differences depending on model year, generally an XLS came standard with full power accessories, air-conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control and an MP3-compatible CD player. Opting for an XLT adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear ventilation ducts.
The Eddie Bauer models came with 17-inch alloys, all-terrain tires, leather upholstery, two-tone paint, running boards, heated seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver seat, driver memory settings, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, while the Limited went on to add chrome wheels, a power front passenger seat, monochromatic paint, dual-zone automatic climate control, steering wheel audio controls, heated mirrors and an upgraded stereo system with an in-dash CD changer.
Used models can also be found with optional features such as navigation, a rear air conditioner, a sunroof, a third-row seat, second-row bucket seats, a DVD entertainment system and 18-inch wheels.
Powering this generation is either a 210-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine or a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 292 horsepower (was 239-hp prior to 2006). Two- or four-wheel drive models can be found with either engine and all had five-speed automatic transmissions except V8 models which got six-speed automatics beginning in 2006.
Overall, these Explorers offer a comfortable ride, capable handling for a large vehicle, a spacious cabin and a particularly strong engine and high towing capacity (7,300 pounds) on V8 models.
The Explorer's fourth-generation was introduced in 2011 and produced through 2019. Among the most significant changes was a switch to a unibody architecture from the trucklike body-on-frame for a more carlike drive. Interior room and cargo space has also increased as the new design is 4 inches longer and 5 inches wider than its predecessor.
In addition to upgrading the interior as well, new engines debuted including a standard 3.5-liter 290-horsepower V6, while a more pump-friendly 2.0-liter 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder (with 270 pound-feet of torque) is optional (beginning in 2012). Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, while front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is an option on the V6. The downside, however, is that towing capacity has been reduced to 5,000 pounds.
Model choices were reduced to three: base, XLT and Limited. Even the base model comes well-equipped, however, while finding luxury features such as leather uphostery, upgraded audio systems, the Sync voice command system, keyless ignition/entry and rearview camera can be found by moving up to the higher trims.
Used models from this new generation can also be found with options such as navigation, adaptive cruise control, a rear entertainment system, blind spot and collision warning systems, and an automatic parallel-parking system.
Gas mileage for this V6 Explorer with front-wheel drive is an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city and 25 mpg onthe highway (17 and 23, respectively with AWD) ... about average for the class. But the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is rated at a strong 20 mpg city and 28 highway.
This Ford Explorer is clearly one of the leaders among family SUV choices. It has a well-balanced drive and provides spacious and comfortable accommodations for seven passengers. And when outfitted with with most of its optional high-tech features, it's right up there with the luxury brands.
There were two earlier Ford Explorer generations. The second generation was produced during the 1995 - 2001 model years. While not as refined or powerful as current models, this group still provides solid used SUVs, although they are harder and harder to find without significant mileage issues.
This generation offered a choice of three engines: a standard 160-horsepower V6, an optional 210-horsepower V6 (1997 and later) and a 210-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. Models included the familiar XL, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited, as well as a two-door Explorer known as the Sport.
Due to age considerations, we no longer recommend first generation Explorers.
Overall, and no surprise here, we think the Explorer makes a solid choice as a used SUV purchase. And we can make several suggestions to save money when buying one.
How To Get The Best Price
There are actually several different ways to buy an older Explorer at the lowest price, and even at wholesale. You can click on the links to each of the following methods to get the specific instructions.
In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.