Used 1999 Ford Explorer Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1999
Since its introduction in 1991, the Ford Explorer has resided at the top of the sport utility sales heap. With good reason, the Explorer combines style, comfort and room in a 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 Blazer. Jeep's all-new Grand Cherokee has made up much of the distance between its interior and the Explorer's. An organically sweeping dashboard houses radio controls that can actually be operated without a magnifying glass. Materials in the Explorer 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 an attractive SUV.
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. Ford also offers an OHV 5.0-liter V8 engine that used to power the previous generation Mustang GT. While the acceleration with 5.0-liter motor is improved over the base V6, it gives up a lot in fuel consumption. Fortunately, Ford introduced an optional SOHC V6 in 1997 that offers nearly as much power as the V8, for less money while offering greater fuel efficiency. We recommend this engine over the other two engine choices due to its great power and affordable price.
The Explorer gets exterior changes this year that include new quarter panel sheetmetal, body moldings, badging and running boards. New options include a reverse sensing system, rear load leveling, automatic ride control and side impact air bags.
Unlike the current Nissan Pathfinder, 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 Chevrolet Blazer 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 sport-ute, 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.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.