1997 Ford Explorer Review

Pros & Cons

  • Great cargo space, multiple engine options, and attractive exterior styling make this the best selling SUV on the market. The fact that the Explorer has dual airbags sure helps too.
  • The base V-6 engine is a asthmatic when trying to pass at freeway speeds. The Explorer feels top-heavy in tight corners.
List Price Estimate
$1,078 - $2,173

Used Explorer for Sale
None for sale nearby. Instead:
See all for sale

cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

1997 Ford Explorer appraisal values can range from $530 - $1,816.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Since its introduction in 1991, the Ford Explorer has resided at the top of the sport-utility sales heap. With good reason; the Explorer combined style, comfort and room is one go-anywhere package. The modern day Country Squire, some have called it, after the segment leading station wagon of the 1950s.

We think that there's a good reason for this. Simply stated, the Explorer is a more refined vehicle than the competition at Jeep and General Motors. The interior instills a feeling of quality that is missing from the Grand Cherokee and the Blazer. An organically sweeping dashboard houses radio controls that can actually be operated without a magnifying glass. Materials look and feel rich. Rear seat comfort surpasses Chevy, and entry/exit is easier than Jeep. Explorers offer more cargo capacity than most rivals, and five passengers can ride with ease. Exterior styling is a subjective matter, but we think that the Explorer is one of the most attractive SUVs on the road.

The Explorer's standard 4.0-liter V6 is the puniest engine found in a domestic sport-ute. Acceleration is fine from a standstill, but step on the gas at 50 mph and not much happens. That's not good news when there's a need to pass or merge. Fortunately, Ford has introduced an optional SOHC V6 that offers nearly as much power as the V8, for a lot less money. We recommend this engine over the other two engine choices due to its great power and affordable price.

Other changes for 1997 include swapping the four-speed automatic for a new five-speed automatic on V6 models. This five-speed is the first ever developed for an American passenger vehicle. Ford claims that the additional gear, which occurs between the former first and second gears, allows for more precise shifting, allowing the truck to move uphill and off-road more authoritatively. When combined with the optional V6, this should make the Explorer much more fun to drive.

Unlike the reworked Chevy Blazer, Explorers retain a distinctly truck-like character, which could be a bonus or a demerit. They're tough and solid, and easy to maneuver, though steering is a little slow and ponderous, and the body leans through tight corners. Braking is excellent, and the suspension has a compliant attitude, but Ford's Explorer can bounce around, making occupants regret the Denver omelet they had for breakfast.

Ford has a philosophy of building vehicles that everyone can be happy with. Sure, the Jeep Grand Cherokee feels sportier, and the GMC Jimmy looks cooler, but the Explorer has just the right amount of class and ruggedness to make it America's best-selling off-roader. If you are thinking about buying an SUV, chances are you've already checked out the Explorer. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and find out why there are so many of these trucks on the road.

1997 Highlights

The 1997 Ford Explorer receives a few appreciated improvements this year. A new SOHC V6 engine is now available, providing nearly as much power as the 5.0-liter V8. Also new is a five-speed automatic transmission, the first ever offered by an American auto manufacturer, which is standard on V6 models equipped with automatic.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Ford Explorer.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

97 Ford Explorer EB AWD
Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV AWD
Truck is a beast. Yea it does suck gas but if you drive like a normal person, you'll be fine. Pushing 265000k; truck is still on the road. No leaks little rust, but very reliable. SAfe for the kids and easy to drive. This is one of my favorite style of trucks; has alot of room inside while disguising it on the outside. doing little cosmetics to eventually sell, already have 3 buyers...lol...at 265K..Love this Truck. AG
Our Best Vehicle Ever
We have had our '97 Explorer XLT AWD V8 since new and it's now 12 years old and has 169,000 miles. This is by far the longest we ever have kept a car both in terms of time as well as miles driven. This truck just keeps on going. We use it every day from mundane things like commuting to/from work to bigger things like camping vacations, driving trips and trailering loads. No major repairs in its history - just the usual things like battery, brakes, and tires.
Ford Explorer XLT V8 AWD
I bought my explorer for $1000 for my first car in august of 2012 with 154,000 on it. Let me tell you this is a badass truck with a lot of power. I drove it pretty hard, commuting back and forth to school every day for a semester doin about 70 miles a day offroading some weekends and going up to the mountains in west virginia, and using it as a utility vehicle this spring for my landscaping business. Not the most reliable but it was 15 years old, replaced camshaft position sensor, cat flange gasket, alternator, radiator blew and overheated engine and made #4 cylinder thereafter but hell engines made today would be toast after overheating. Recommend getting owner records before buying
Great value for the price
Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV AWD
I'm amazed at other reviewers complaining because they bought a used vehicle and it had maintenance problems. If the hood won't stay up, replace the supports for $20. After a decade or so they might have worn out. Overall, other than the radio, this is a well designed vehicle which when properly maintained will last and last. The V6 has almost as much horsepower as the V8, but gets almost the same milage as well, so you might as well get the V8 and its increased towing capability. Mileage will depend on how you drive it, I'm getting 20 MPG combined, and I know of one man who's getting 30 MPG (mostly highway).


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Ford Explorer

Used 1997 Ford Explorer Overview

The Used 1997 Ford Explorer is offered in the following submodels: Explorer SUV. Available styles include XLT 4dr SUV, Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV, Sport 2dr SUV 4WD, XLT 4dr SUV 4WD, Sport 2dr SUV, XLT 4dr SUV AWD, Limited 4dr SUV, XL 2dr SUV, XL 2dr SUV 4WD, XL 4dr SUV, XL 4dr SUV 4WD, Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV 4WD, Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV AWD, Limited 4dr SUV 4WD, and Limited 4dr SUV AWD. Pre-owned Ford Explorer models are available with a 4.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 205 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 Ford Explorer comes with rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Ford Explorer?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Ford Explorers are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Ford Explorer for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Ford Explorer.

Can't find a used 1997 Ford Explorers you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Explorer for sale - 3 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $21,188.

Find a used Ford for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $9,988.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Explorer for sale - 4 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $8,045.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 1 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $23,046.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Ford Explorer?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Ford lease specials
Check out Ford Explorer lease specials