This is my third Ford Explorer, and obviously I have had good luck with them if I keep coming back to the same vehicle. It is also my first V8 model, and I do like it quite a bit over the previous V6 models. Highway mileage is actually better than smaller motor, although city driving is worse. (V6 got 12 city, 16 highway...V8 gets about 10 city, 19-20 highway) Extremely reliable, although it has been my experience that Explorers chew the tires off of themselves prematurely. Do not buy high mileage tires, Explorer suspensions will "cup" the tires long before they are worn out. Overall safe, comfortable, reliable vehicle.
Have had one cloth interior, and 2 leather interiors, leather is only way to go in these. Exceptional sounding factory stereo, V8 has decent power (would never buy a V6 again after having a V8) Great looks! Interior design quite roomy.
Suspension redesign in 2002 took care of tire wear out problems, my biggest gripe with them. V6 mileage awful after having V8, but hey, it's a SUV, if you don't like the mileage, drive a car! Ride quality somewhat poor, even by SUV standards.