Ford motor company makes some good quality cars and trucks, many of which rank near the top of the best- seller lists. Among its best selling trucks are the SUVís, which include the Escape, Explorer, Expedition, and Excursion. The most popular of all is also the vehicle Iím going to review, the 2002 Ford Explorer
. This vehicle is the best selling SUV in the United States, and the third best- selling truck overall.
Features of This Vehicle:
The Ford Explorer 4- wheel drive comes in four trim levels: XLT, XLS, Limited, and Eddie Bauer. They are all powered by a 4.0 liter, 210 horsepower, V-6 engine as a standard feature. With the XLS trim, this engine size is the only one available. With the XLT, Limited, and Eddie Bauer editions, you have the option of getting a more powerful, 4.6 liter, 239 horsepower, V-8 engine.
Many options are standard on all Explorer trim levels, like air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, cassette player, power windows, locks, and mirrors. With the XLT and Eddie Bauer, you will get other standard options like CD player, power driverís seat, and a split- fold second row bench seat. With the Eddie Bauer (the top of the line trim level), you will automatically get dual- zone air conditioning, heated leather seats, adjustable accelerator and brake pedals, six disk CD changer, etc.
One new option that Ford offers this year is an optional third seat, available on the XLT, Limited, and Eddie Bauer trim levels. This increases the seating capacity from five to seven. Itís a good idea for those with large families and others who need the extra seats for transporting people. Be forewarned that this third seat is quite cramped. Itís designed for two people, but they had better be small people because the width of the seat and the legroom are very limited.
Fuel economy for the 4- wheel drive Explorer isnít that good. The 4.0 liter, 210 horsepower engine models have a fuel economy rating of only 15 on the highway and 20 in the city. The 4.6 liter engine offers a fuel economy rating of 14/19.
If you need a good amount of power, for towing purposes, the Ford Explorer 4- wheel drive models have a maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds, except for the XLS, which has a maximum of only 3,500 pounds. This is enough power to handle many sizes of camping trailers and other cargo- carrying trailers.
On the exterior, the Explorer is a good, rugged looking vehicle; an impressive SUV that commands respect, although there is little difference in appearance from the 2001 model. Itís also slightly larger than the ďcompactĒ Ford Escape, with an additional 2 inches in width and 2.3 inches in height.
Th acceleration in the Explorer is good, for an SUV of its size. But the handling isnít that good. I found that the vehicle leans quite a bit, when making turns, giving it that ďtop heavyĒ feeling that you get when youíre driving a bus. I also noticed that bumps in the road were felt very strongly, while I was driving this vehicle. Hitting a small pothole, at about 40 miles per hour, I felt my body move up from the seat, very swiftly and sharply. Ford equips the Explorer with independent rear suspension, but it didnít seem to matter. There isnít much to absorb the shock, like I have experienced while driving certain makes of cars.
This is one of the main reasons why people choose to purchase an SUV. Ford Explorer does
have a good amount of space for hauling things. Thereís approx. 47 cubic feet of cargo space in all trim levels. The split- seat is another nice feature. If you need to haul something thatís very long, but not very wide, you can lower just a portion of the back seat, thanks to the 40/20/40 split rear seat.
Ford Explorer 4- wheel drive is a pretty good SUV. It has the standard features and options that you expect to find in an SUV, and it will suit most peopleís needs, if those needs include plenty of cargo space, good towing capacity, and room for many passengers.
When we get to the issue of pricing, my opinion of the Explorer tapers off a little bit. The price can range from as low as $21,000 (for the XLS model) to as high as $33,000 (for a fully- loaded Eddie Bauer). These prices are a little higher than the closest competitors, which would include the Chevrolet Blazer, GMC Jimmy, Nissan Pathfinder, Isuzu Rodeo, and a few others. The model that I drove was the Eddie Bauer, with a sticker price of just over $32,000. Yes, it did look sharp and it did have some nice options, but I donít know if I would pay this much, for this vehicle. Compared to the slightly smaller Ford Escape, the Explorer costs about $8,000 more than a fully- loaded version of its smaller cousin. Thatís 33 percent more cost. Do I think the Explorer is 33 percent better than the Escape? No, I do not.
The one thing that Ford needs to improve, with the Explorer, is the way it leans so heavily when making turns. I realize that SUV are often like this, due to the nature of the design. But this vehicle leans a little too much. The engineers at Ford need to make some more improvements to minimize this leaning effect.
If I was going to buy an Explorer, I would want either the XLT or the Eddie Bauer model, with the 4.6 liter, V-8 engine. The 4.0 liter, 210 horsepower engine is fine for ordinary driving, but itís not enough power if you plan on pulling a heavy trailer.
Overall, I think the Ford Explorer 4- wheel drive SUV is a pretty good vehicle, but Iím not convinced that itís worth the retail price of around $30,000. If youíre thinking of buying an SUV, ask yourself if you really need the additional seating capacity that the third seat offers, or the slightly larger interior. If these things are important to you, then the Explorer might be just the SUV you need. If you donít need these additional features, then I would recommend buying the Ford Escape, or a similar, less expensive SUV instead. Ford Explorer is a good SUV, but itís a little pricey for what you get.
Amount Paid (US$):
2002Model and Options:
Ford Eddie Bauer, 4WD