1998 Ford Explorer Review

Pros & Cons

  • The Explorer is the best selling sport-ute on the market for a reason. A comfortable interior, three engine choices, and multiple trim levels mean that there is an Explorer for nearly any budget or lifestyle.
  • Abysmal gas mileage. Handling is sloppy in corners.
List Price Estimate
$963 - $1,941

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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 in 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 do, 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 one of the weakest engines 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 introduced an optional SOHC V6 in 1997 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.

Changes for 1998 are limited to revising the truck's tailgate. Nothing to write home about, especially when compared to the sweeping changes of last year, which saw the first-ever application of five-speed transmission technology in a truck. This five-speed is, in fact, 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 SOHC V6, this makes 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.

1998 Highlights

The 1998 Ford Explorer gets a restyled tailgate.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Ford Explorer.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

A great little truck.
The option for my model was not above. I drive a 1998 XLT 4x4 w/auto transmission. I bought the car for $3,000. with 146,000 miles on it two years ago as my first car. It is still running strong to this day. It has had it's usual maintenance, that is a given for any car of this age. Sure, it has it's quirks, but regardless, this is a great little truck that will never fail you.
Most dependable car I've ever owned
I will keep this short. I have owned this vehicle since 1999 with about 20K miles on it. It now has 225K miles on it. Other than common perishable parts like tires and brakes, I have had to replace the 02 sensor, the alternator, the exhaust (because it rusted through the cats), and the gas filler fuel neck (because I broke it getting too rough with the gas hose). Most all of these went near the 200K mile mark. That is IT. You wanna talk about a reliable vehicle worth the money? I either got a really good one, or Ford built these right.
LOVE my Red Pig
I bought my Explorer "used" in '99, with only 1300 miles on it. I truly lucked out! I bought it to pull my new Danish horse trailer (Brenderup) and as my commuting vehicle, which is why my wonderful Red Pig now has about 264K miles on it. ["Red Pig"? so named the first time I filled it up, having traded in a '96 Honda Civic coupe in the transaction]. It was my commuting vehicle as well as my trailer-puller until 6 years ago. Before the Pig was semi-retired, I was putting a good 22K miles on it per year; after, less than 3000 I am only now thinking it's time to find a successor for my beloved Pig. Very reluctantly, because I don't think anything made more recently will measure up
Best Vehicle I have ever owned!
I bought my explorer brand new when my 2nd son was born and still have it today! My son is now 13 yrs old. I feel safe sitting up high. It has never left me sitting. I have four wheel drive but hardly ever have to use it. I have a hill to go up to get out of my neighborhood. When it snows, most vehicles can not get over that hill but my explorer goes right up the snow covered hill. I will buy another Explorer when I'm ready for another vehicle.


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 1998 Ford Explorer

Used 1998 Ford Explorer Overview

The Used 1998 Ford Explorer is offered in the following submodels: Explorer SUV. Available styles include Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV, XLT 4dr SUV AWD, Sport 2dr SUV, XL 4dr SUV 4WD, XL 4dr SUV, XLT 4dr SUV 4WD, Sport 2dr SUV 4WD, XLT 4dr SUV, Limited 4dr SUV 4WD, Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV 4WD, Limited 4dr SUV AWD, Eddie Bauer 4dr SUV AWD, and Limited 4dr SUV.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 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 1998 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) 1998 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 1998 Ford Explorer.

Can't find a used 1998 Ford Explorers you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Ford Explorer for sale - 8 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $16,577.

Find a used Ford for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $21,853.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Explorer for sale - 11 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $25,457.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 8 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $8,039.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 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