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In spite of its ubiquity, the dated 2001 Ford Explorer can't compete with the other excellent midsize SUVs available.
Great crash-test scores, roomy, lots of optional features.
Harsh yet wallowy ride, potentially steep price, every other Joe has one.
Available Explorer SUV Models
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A complete redesign is planned for 2002, so the 2001 Ford Explorer has undergone minor changes. The SOHC V6 is standard on all models, and the 4.0-liter OHV V6 and manual transmission are no longer available. Additional child safety-seat tether anchors have been added to the second-row seats.
Since its introduction in 1990 as a 1991 model, the Ford Explorer has resided at the top of the sport-utility sales heap. This is totally understandable, as the Explorer combines style, comfort and room in a go-anywhere package. The modern-day Country Squire, some have called it, after the segment-leading station wagon of the 1960s. The Explorer's sales success, of course, has to do with America's big appetite for SUVs. But it's also a compliment to Ford, as the Explorer was designed to appeal to the widest range of people possible.
While the 2001 Explorer Sport features new sheetmetal and minor suspension changes, the four-door Explorer remains virtually identical to last year's model. There are four trim levels available: XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited. The majority of Explorers sold are XLTs. If you want your Explorer to be as special as possible, step up to the Eddie Bauer or Limited. These models come standard with added luxury feature content like leather seats, automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Optional equipment worth considering includes side airbags, a moonroof, rear load leveling and a reverse sensing system.
All models feature an organically sweeping dashboard housing radio controls that can be operated without a magnifying glass. Materials in the Explorer look and feel better than many other SUVs. Rear-seat comfort is excellent, and entry/exit is easy with the optional running boards attached. Fold the rear seats down, and the Explorer will offer 80 cubic feet of cargo.
For 2001, the 4.0-liter SOHC V6 is standard on every model. It generates 205 horsepower at 5,250 rpm, with 240 pound-feet of peak torque at 3,250 rpm. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered on this engine. Power delivery is acceptable with the V6, but if you're planning on heavy towing, you might want to order the optional 5.0-liter V8. It has more torque than the V6, but the downside is worse fuel mileage. An automatic four-wheel-drive system is available with both engines.
Explorers retain a distinctly trucklike character, which could be a bonus or a demerit. They're tough and solid, but the suspension manages to be floaty and wallowy on dips, harsh on bumps, and easily unsettled by rumpled pavement. Cornering causes lots of body lean. The brakes are quite good, however, and the steering is quick and responsive for an SUV.
The Explorer's basic underpinnings and body structure date back 10 years, when it was first introduced, and it's showing its age. While the Explorer provides a comfortable cabin and excellent safety ratings, its harsh ride and less-than-stellar handling and performance behoove us to tell you that a redesigned version will debut early next year as a 2002 model. If you're set on buying an Explorer, we'd recommend that you wait a bit for the new and improved version.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.