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.
I have 200,100 miles on my SUV. I purchased my 1996 with 108,000 miles for $3200.00. I have put 92,000 miles on it. I have had to replace upper ball joints, tires and routine oil changes, battery, alternator. Other than that I got more than my money's worth still running strong. I purchased 70,000 tires thinking they would outlive the truck. Now I need new tires.
When I purchased the 96 Explorer it was my 2nd one. I had a 91 2dr 4wd and sold it to my Dad. My 96 was fine till 55,000 miles when the odometer broke. It was already out of warranty and cost $1000 to fix due to it being one of a cluster . I had to repair the a/c twice costing $1000 each time. I replaced the radiator at $800. I've replaced the transfer case at $3500 and the Transmission at $2000. This vehicle is only used to go to and from work and school 5-10 miles away. Recently, my daughter was driving it on I-95 coing home from college and the engine failed costing me $400 to tow it home 71 miles. It appears it is only worth $2000 when running.
Bought mine with 135K back in '01. It now has over 300K and has been the perfect vehicle. Still looks fantastic, interior has a small 1 1/2 inch tear on the driver seat's side. Has never left us walking. Same transmission, water pump, rear end. The only big things replaced are a/c and radiator. Both done by me and all maintenance also.
I bought my 96 in 98 with 14000 miles on it. 12 years and 160,000 miles later and it never had a breakdown. The transmission never gave me problems. Only problem after many years was the link to the auto transmission and the back door lock had problems that I never took it in for. I did most of the scheduled maintenance myself and I'm no real mechanic. Great vehicle from Ford.