This was my first vehicle purchase. I've never been fond of Fords, but this vehicle definitely changed my opinion. I love how smoothly it handles, it's incredibly comfortable and I find the fuel economy to be quite well (averaging 17+ MPG in the city). I'm starting to run into some issues at 87,000 miles, all minor and relatively cheap fixes - but my biggest hassle was with the fuel pump. Finding a replacement was extremely difficult. Overall I think it's a great little SUV and definitely fits all my requirements for what I need. It's a comfortable, reliable ride, and has lots of hidey-holes where you can keep tool kits, travel bags and other knick-knacks hidden and out of the way.
I bought this vehicle new in March 2001 and we use it for traveling and pulling our boat. With 80,000 miles on it, it is still as tight as the day we bought it... I can't say that about my sisters GMC Jimmy that she bought at the same time! The Explorer is excellent in the snow and mud and will take almost anything you can throw at it. We use it to pull a 4,200 lb boat and trailer to lakes that are over 300+ miles away and have never had a single problem with it.
Bought Dora (The Explorer) in 2004 with 40K miles on her. 4.0l V6. To date I have replaced the thermostat, both radiator hoses (innie and outie), brakes, serpentine belt and tires. She has never let me down and has 150k on her. The most reliable vehicle I have ever owned, hands down. This is one of that last real SUVs - built on a truck chassis (Ranger platform). We lived in mountains of northern New Mexico and spent a lot of time boulder crawling on two-track roads along mountain ridges. Great 4X4 capability as well as highway capability. the ride is a bit bouncy, but I tamed it a bit when I put a set of bilstien shocks in place of the factory ones. The explorer is paid off and still alive
Between my father and I, this would be the fourth Explorer in the family and they have never failed us. But we do the maintenance! The transmission failure is due to contaminated fluid plugging up the ECT and the transmission does not need to be replaced for the shift flair! Do your research. I broke my back and find this vehicle comfortable for long trips and am pleased with the 19 mpg average. The quality of the interior is first rate and conveniently laid out. The ride is a little stiff but is quiet and poor weather driving is excellent. The HVAC cools and heats the interior well, but can be slow to warm on cold days. If you do the maintenance, yours should run well as well.