This was my first vehicle purchase. I've never been fond of Fords, but this vehicle definitely changed my opinion. I love how smoothly it handles, it's incredibly comfortable and I find the fuel economy to be quite well (averaging 17+ MPG in the city).
I'm starting to run into some issues at 87,000 miles, all minor and relatively cheap fixes - but my biggest hassle was with the fuel pump. Finding a replacement was extremely difficult.
Overall I think it's a great little SUV and definitely fits all my requirements for what I need. It's a comfortable, reliable ride, and has lots of hidey-holes where you can keep tool kits, travel bags and other knick-knacks hidden and out of the way.
By far, the way the vehicle handles is its best feature. Very easy to maneuver and control and there's no need to have to retrain yourself from driving a smaller vehicle to this one. It turns just as nicely (if not better) than small cars and it's easy to navigate in narrow places.
Replacement parts are a huge hassle with this vehicle. Everything I've needed either had to be ordered in, or I've had to do trial and error with things fitting, since the XLS has different parts than other Explorers of the '95-'00 and '02+ years.
I bought my Explorer new in 2001 -- started as a lease and I decided to keep. After 208000 miles I've never had any major problems, until now. Have to get the crankshaft pulley replaced. I plan to keep this car FOREVER. I love my Explorer.