This SUV was the first vehicle I got to drive as soon as I received my license. Once I did receive it, I got to see all the problems that accompanied it. In 8 years, we had to replace the transmission 3 times. There was an incredible amount of body roll at speeds above 55 mph (that made it feel dangerous on the highway), and the suspension had a horrendous squeak whenever the wheels drove over anything. Gas mileage was terrible with the weak V6. However, regardless of all its faults, I got very close to this car and was sad to finally see it go when we discarded it through the Cash for Clunkers program.
I've owned this car since October 1997, buying it with about 11,000 miles. It now has over 203,000 miles and still running strong. The 302 V8 is a strong and efficient runner, with a strong and durable transmission. Pre-Ethanol highway economy 22 MPG. Post-Ethanol highway economy 18 MPG. Very practical car, tows 5500 lb loads with ease, plenty of ramp torque, and horsepower to run up hills with ease. Recurring issues: this car eats up upper/lower ball joints, water pumps, radiators. Subwoofer not a standard size. On the plus side: 190,000 miles on a fuel pump, 170,000 miles on the air conditioning system. Engine, tranny, fuel system, computer top notch reliable on this car.
Power train torque/power and reliability. Paint quality. Driving position and visibility are great. Handling very good (keep tires at 32 - 35 psi) for an SUV. Excellent JBL sound system.
Odd size JBL subwoofer has no easy replacement, can't get parts. Upper/lower ball joints, water pump quite problematic and expensive to replace. Replacement MOOG parts no better for reliability. E-10 Ethanol has driven fuel economy down from 22 MPG HWY to 18 MPG HWY. No known fix yet.
Bought new. XLT w/Leather, moonroof, JBL, etc. Routine maint w/oil changes every 3.5K mi. V-8 is powerful enough, but times have changed. Still can drive 100 MPH all day & stays cool. New CD changer. Wore out armrest & had it re-covered, then the coolant leaked out the very same day, but temp gauge never went up. Suspension is a little rocky when empty.Cost to repair etc., is about the present wholesale value (174K mi), so put in a crate motor for $5K rather than buy a new SUV. Beats a car payment. Sunroof rattle on bumpy roads that I fix with matchbook. Great stereo & acoustics, comfy (I'm 6'5"), AC blows ice cubes,tows 2 jetskis so effortlessly, you barely notice them. Keepin' it!
Front Seats, stereo, reliability, engine & tranny, sunroof, GREAT AC.
Independent rear suspension. Another 100 horsepower. Better stock roof- rack.
I have owned my Explorer for a year and a half now, with no major problems. I bought it to take my GTO off the road. It needed some work at the time of purchase: Front wheel bearings, a starter, thermostat, IAC motor, brakes and BF Goodrich All- Terrain tires. Recently, the transmission began acting up, but it is most likely an issue with a shift solenoid and separator plate gasket which is common in these models. Should be an easy fix. Due to it's short wheelbase, it also offroads great and is fun to drive in the snow or snotty mud. Over all, a great truck. After I drive the wheels off of this one, I will certainly buy another.
Ability to shift-on-the-fly from 2x4 to 4x4 hi and lo, bulletproof engines and differentials, cheap to operate and maintain, decent highway mileage.
V6 models should get the beefier V8 transmission, nicer interior materials and fit and finish, a more powerful V6 would be nice.
Bought this SUV new, out of necessity, in 2005 when my 1987 Bronco II died on the highway Xmas night with 140K miles. Nearly 14 years and 164K miles later, I have never once regretted that decision. The original engine is still as powerful and the original transmission is still as smooth as the day I drove it off the lot. It is showing signs of age, however, as some of the interior hardware is beginning to fail and the rust is creeping up underneath the rocker panels. Despite the extremely tempting offer to ditch this SUV in the "cash for clunkers" program, I am sticking with my Explorer until the bitter end. The scrap metal heap would not be a fitting end for such a reliable vehicle.
Handling & maneuverability; engine well matched to transmission; still looks better than any SUV out there
As others have mentioned, the rust will probably spell the demise of this vehicle before its engine and transmission days are done.