2009 Ford Explorer SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Ford Explorer SUV

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Ford Explorer Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 210 hp @ 5100 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 14/20 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Ford Explorer

  • The midsize 2009 Ford Explorer still deserves consideration if you need a traditional SUV with substantial towing and off-roading capabilities. But considering the Explorer's mediocre engine performance, you might be better off with a more modern seven-passenger crossover if you just need a family vehicle with plenty of passenger and cargo space.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Respectable ride and handling characteristics for a truck-based SUV, spacious and quiet interior, healthy tow rating, high safety ratings.

  • Cons

    Weak engines compared to competing SUVs, some low-grade interior materials, dated interior design.

  • What's New for 2009

    For 2009, the Ford Explorer gains standard trailer sway control, an added feature for the stability control system. There's also a new XLT Sport trim level and an updated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, which provides current traffic conditions, gas prices for nearby stations and even sports scores and movie listings.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Definitely a family suv

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Explorer

2008 with 37000 miles already on it. First driving experience was very good. Lot of room for the whole family and very comfortable seating.It drives very quite but reaching 70 miles per hours a front road noise surprised me. I have to check with the dealer. My experience with cars is telling me that something has to do with the ball bearings. Also a squeaky noise came from the front of the car. I checked under the hood and looks like the serpentine belt is the problem and since many people already are talking about it in the internet, I do not have doubt that that it is the problem. I will bring the car to the dealer to be checked but if those two problems can be fixed t

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

The best suv you can

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Explorer

I've owned Explorers since they were introduced and have owned several. I have used them for business. They are, absolutely, the best, most dependable vehicle I have ever owned. New or previously owned. I still have the first one I bought. It has almost 290k in mileage on it. Other than standard maintanence, oil changes, tires, brakes, scheduled maintenance, etc. I have never had not one single problem with this vehicle. Not one. I just purchased a very low mileage 2008 limited. And it's like coming home again. Only better. The one that I have is a 99' and it's like the every ready bunny. It just keeps going and I love the new one. These are really fantastic SUV's.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great suv

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Explorer

Overall, a very good SUV. Great power/performance, very good towing capacity/capability, lots of interior room, 3rd row seating that actually can fit 2 smaller adults, nice styling. 4WD cuts in flawlessly when needed. Seats are comfortable but not as much as others I've driven. Bad blind spot in the passenger rear corner but can be compensated for by adjusting the side view mirror. Transmission sometimes has harsh engagement before it warms up when accelerating from a stop. Brakes get some getting used to since it takes more pressure than most vehicles I've driven over the past 40 years.

Very good, i love it!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Explorer

I just love this car, always had a big car as, Navigator, Suburban, Avalanche, but I'm very happy with is one.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

C'mon man!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Explorer

The transmission is crappy in first gear. Big clunk when coming to a complete stop. Pretty much have to stand on the brakes. No info about automatic door opener in standard manual. Interior is lame, no place comfortable for the knees. Biggest right side blind spot on the planet, and no vision through the rear view mirror when the video screen is down.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Wow ford hit a home

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Ford Explorer

This car is amazing!!! I drive it for work all around the city and it gets 18.9 mpgs overall!!! This car has great power and pick up. I like to brag that I always beat those Bmw suvs out of the traffic lights! Its got a very nice interior 9 cup holders but don't use them i pack people it in all the time and love to take it off road!!! no problems and a sunny future together!

Full 2009 Ford Explorer Review

What's New for 2009

For 2009, the Ford Explorer gains standard trailer sway control, an added feature for the stability control system. There's also a new XLT Sport trim level and an updated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, which provides current traffic conditions, gas prices for nearby stations and even sports scores and movie listings.


Throughout nearly all of the 1990s, the Ford Explorer was on top of the world. The sport-utility vehicle craze was in full swing and the Explorer was the unofficial family car of suburban families everywhere. But a lot's happened since the glory days of traditional SUVs, Seinfeld and boy bands. Higher gas prices and fierce competition from more space- and fuel-efficient crossovers have reduced the appeal of Ford's former star. Yet with its manageable midsize dimensions, useful three rows of seating and impressive road manners, we're not quite ready to bid the 2009 Ford Explorer "Bye, Bye, Bye."

As a truck-based body-on-frame SUV, the Explorer offers a few advantages over unibody crossovers. Notably, these include greater towing capacity and, on four-wheel-drive versions, a dual-range transfer case with a low gear for greater off-road capability. This year, added trailer sway control, which works in concert with the stability control system, keeps things rolling straight and true. But even if you don't plan on towing a Fleetwood camping trailer, we still consider the Explorer one of the best-handling truck-based SUVs on the market, and its smooth, quiet highway ride makes it a natural road-trip candidate. In addition, the availability of Sirius Travel Link for the navigation system helps bring the Explorer up to date with current traffic conditions, gas prices at nearby stations and even sports scores and movie listings.

But in other ways, the Explorer is showing its age. The base V6, for example, has only 210 horsepower, and the 4WD Explorer only achieves fuel mileage of 15 mpg combined. Compare that to the roomier GMC Acadia crossover, whose V6 sports 288 hp and yields 18 mpg combined. Of course there's always the Explorer's available 292-hp V8, but even that engine lacks the low-end pull of competitors' V8s, and increasingly, their V6s as well.

For buyers who don't need the quickest or most fuel-efficient SUV on the block, the 2009 Ford Explorer is an impressive package. It's comfortable enough to serve carpool duty, yet rugged enough to handle a 7,000-pound camper or the dirt trail leading to your secluded mountain hideaway. Those last two points are important, because truck-based SUVs like the Explorer are best suited to people who really need them. For family-minded buyers who need copious amounts of cargo and passenger space, a crossover SUV is a better fit.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Ford Explorer is a four-door midsize SUV available in XLT, XLT Sport, Eddie Bauer and Limited trim levels. Passenger capacity can be as much as seven, depending on whether it is equipped with the third-row seat.

The XLT seats five and comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning, a CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary input jack and full power accessories. The XLT Sport adds black exterior accents (including the wheel arches, side-step bars and front fascia) along with unique charcoal cloth upholstery and white-faced instruments. Eddie Bauer models provide two-tone paint, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, heated front seats, Ford Sync connectivity, satellite radio, faux wood interior trim and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The top-of-the-line Explorer Limited features monochromatic paint, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control (with a separate rear air-conditioner), power-adjustable pedals, a power-folding third-row seat, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat and seat memory for the driver. Also included with the Limited are heated exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded audio system with an in-dash CD changer and steering-wheel-mounted controls.

Many of the upper trim's features can be had as options on the lower trims, including a third-row seat (with or without a power-fold feature), rear-seat climate control and an upgraded stereo. Other options include power running boards, a heated windshield, second-row captain's chairs, the Sync hands-free communication and entertainment integration system, a voice-activated navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a sunroof, 20-inch wheels and a Class III/IV towing package.

Powertrains and Performance

The Ford Explorer's base engine is a 4.0-liter V6 good for 210 hp and 254 pound-feet of torque. Optional on all models is a 4.6-liter V8 engine with 292 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V6 engine, while the V8 comes matched to a six-speed automatic. Either engine can be equipped with a choice of two-wheel drive, 4WD or all-wheel drive, depending on the trim level. The traditional 4WD system offers a push-button transfer case that also features a low gear for negotiating very slippery, low-speed conditions. Properly equipped, a V8 2WD Explorer can tow 7,300 pounds.

Performance is adequate, though the Explorer lags behind most rivals. We timed a V8-equipped 4WD Explorer at 9 seconds for the 0-60 dash. By comparison, a V8-equipped Nissan Pathfinder does the same run in 7 seconds flat. EPA fuel mileage estimates don't vary much between trim levels: The V6 with 2WD rates 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined, while either engine with 4WD rates 1 mpg less across the board.


All major safety equipment is standard on the 2009 Ford Explorer, including antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and first- and second-row side curtain airbags. The stability control system includes rollover sensing and trailer sway control.

In government crash testing, the Explorer earned a perfect five stars in all frontal- and side-impact crash tests. It also received the top rating of "Good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset crash testing.

Interior Design and Special Features

Despite incremental improvements over the years, the Explorer's materials quality remains mediocre and its design rudimentary, though sharp two-tone color schemes make this workaday SUV feel a little more upscale.

It's feasible to carry two adults in the third-row seats, but choosing the third-row option slightly reduces the available cargo space and results in a not-quite-flat load floor. Seven-passenger Ford Explorers max out at 83.7 cubic feet of cargo space, while five-passenger versions offer 85.8 cubic feet. Notably, the back of the second row's split bench seat reclines only if your Explorer has a third-row seat. The "quad seating" option on Limited models places reclining captain's chairs in the second row with a storage console between them, but drops passenger capacity to six.

Driving Impressions

Any 2009 Ford Explorer is a relative joy to drive compared to other truck-based SUVs, like the Chevy TrailBlazer and Dodge Durango. Taking much of the credit is the rear independent suspension, which provides a smooth ride and keeps the wheels planted on rough pavement. Steering is surprisingly responsive, and the brakes inspire confidence through a firm and progressive pedal. Power from either the V6 or V8 engine is adequate, though most buyers will prefer the V8's extra helping of low-end torque and refinement.

Talk About The 2009 Explorer

Gas Mileage


  • 14
  • cty
  • 20
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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