Pros: Great space, power, and looks.
Cons: None that come to mind.
I have had this car since March of 2003, and it has been nothing but a great SUV. My Explorer is the XLT Sport with the 4.0L 6-cylinder engine. It is fully loaded, it has 4WD, the upgraded 6 Disc CD player/stereo, moonroof, towing package, leather, 3rd row, etc. The reason for buying the Ford was that our SUV at the time was growing old and it was time to upgrade. Our previous SUV was a 1995 Isuzu Trooper, which I highly recommend also. Other SUV's we were considering were the GMC Envoy, Chevy Trailblazer & Tahoe, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia, and Jeep Wrangler. For the most part we were undecided on what we really wanted at the time.
Beginning with the interior, it is highly durable and extremely comfortable. It is easy to clean and does not get dirty easily. The space is good, but keep in mind it is not as big as its brother the Expedition or like other SUV's such as Chevy Tahoe's and Suburban's. With the 3rd row we are able to seat 7, and yes, we have had 7 adults in the car. The two riding in the 3rd bench had no complaints, and said that for a short ride (about 40 minutes) it was fine, but for anything longer it could get uncomfortable. The cargo space inside is also very good. The Explorer is our family work-horse and it really provides plenty of space for anything. I have loaded it with 800 lbs of bagged mulch (20 bags, 40 lbs each) and it could have easily held 40 bags had I needed to buy them. Also, my family does an annual vacation to the OBX of North Carolina and the Explorer seems to swallow everything we bring along with a roof carrier, and a bike rack that is held by the hitch from the towing package.
This leads me to my next section: the engine and ride. The 4.0L engine is quite sufficient. After loading up the Explorer for the trip to the OBX I was able to accelerate to high way speeds without any doubt in my mind that I was going to get crushed by oncoming traffic. Also, the car was perfectly fine cruising at speeds of 65-80 without feeling as if it was lacking power. Passing other cars on the highway was also no problem, and we always had power on reserve. In my opinion, the V8 should be added only if one is going to be towing major loads, otherwise the 4.0L is fine. This SUV drives very smoothly. The steering is precise, and bumps are not as apparent as they were in older model Explorers.
This Explorer is outstanding when being driven off road or in snow. Here in the Northeast snow is an issue every winter. We've only had the Explorer for one winter, but it tackled the snow without a problem. We had many snow storms, and every time we went out with 1 plus feet of snow on the ground the Explorer would have no problem going through it. The Explorer never felt hungry for power in the snowy conditions and was very stable. Also, in the OBX we go on a beach which allows 4x4's. The Explorer really does well in the sand. The tires on the 17" rims from the Sport Package really grip that sand/snow well and allow the car to have traction all the time. The 6-cyl. engine also felt very capable on the sand, and we even pulled out a Nissan Pathfinder when it got sucked in to a couple inches of water when its teenage driver got too close to the ocean and the tide came in. In 4x4 Low, in low gear, the Explorer had plenty of torque to pull out the Nissan.
On long trips such as North Carolina, a college visiting road trip to Ohio, or a recent trip to New Hampshire (all of the above from the New York City area) the Explorer is my car of choice. Its comfort, smooth ride, quality amenities, and strong power allow me to enjoy the drive in more ways than one. The Explorer also gets decent gas mileage both in town and on the highway.
Finally the cockpit. The driverseat is very well situated, and all the controls are in perfect locations. The way the Radio and AC controls are set up allow the driver to work the controls while keeping the road in perfect site. Everything is self explanatory and there are no hidden tricks or buttons for anything. The controls may be plastic, but they feel high quality, and never feel cheap. The stereo sounds tremendous for a stock option, and the CD changer is perfect because you don't have to constantly change the CD's. The driverseat itself, although well situated can bother your back on long rides, but the lumbar support control knob allows the seat to be adjusted and that problem is quickly solved.
In conclusion, after 23000 miles, and a year and a half I really love the Explorer. It's a great SUV, and it's the perfect size for what I need it for. I highly recommend it to anyone.