The Ford Explorer has consistently been applauded for its dependability, good looks, and extremely versatile nature since its introduction to the market – with the exception of the ill-fated Firestone tire controversy around the turn of the century. For many people, the Explorer took the SUV out of the realm of exclusively off-road, outdoor living, and offered a suitable alternative for everyday use. The Explorer featured a more visually appealing exterior design and more amenities in the cabin than many of the SUVs on the market at the time. In many ways, the various attributes and features of the Ford Explorer helped create the SUV craze that characterized the 1990s and 2000s.
While the Ford Bronco is often considered one of the forerunners in the SUV race due to its early introduction in the 1960s, the Explorer has its own place in automotive history – it is one of the first SUVs tailored to please two entirely different buyers, those looking for a heavy-duty work machine, and those searching for an easy-going everyday vehicle. Specifically, the Ford Explorer pioneered the dual-purpose SUV by offering a comfortable cabin, more on-road capabilities, and an affordable price tag. The Explorer retained some of the Bronco's off-road abilities, but also featured an improved body design and interior features for enhanced safety and optimal comfort. Introduced in 1991, this vehicle quickly soared to the top of its class, with unprecedented demand from every segment of the buyer's market.
Even with all of its versatility and impressive functionality, the Explorer hit a snag in the road at the start of the 21st century. Some Explorer models were outfitted with a specific type of Firestone tire that had a higher-than-acceptable average for failure. This defect caused higher incidents of rollover accidents, and the Explorer's popularity suffered as a result. Even after acknowledging and correcting the error, Ford had some difficulty regaining its appeal with potential buyers – particularly those who were interested in using the Explorer as a solid, reliable family vehicle. Despite its inability to climb back to the top, Ford chose to keep the Explorer and move forward with better, safer designs.
The most current edition of the Ford Explorer is the 2013 model. This is a full-sized SUV with third-row seating and plenty of interior room. The cabin is designed to hold a total of seven passengers at full capacity. This particular model offers a choice of two powertrains. The more fuel-efficient of the two is the 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder option. This engine provides 240 horsepower and gives up plenty of power. The larger, less fuel-efficient option is the 3.5-liter V-6. The horsepower comes in at 290 for this powertrain. Ford chose to pair both engines with the standard six-speed automatic.
In addition to the available powertrains, the 2013 Ford Explorer is offered in several trim levels. This model year features the base trim, the XLT, and the Limited. Most buyers will find the base model to be sufficient, but upgrading to the higher trim levels will provide access to extras such as keyless entry and ignition, a Sync voice command system, and leather upholstery. The rearview camera and upgraded audio stereo system are nice touches as well. Naturally, the higher trim levels also offer a long list of optional features. Buyers purchasing the Explorer new can add on a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system, and even an automatic parallel park system. The available options make it easy to customize the Explorer to the individual needs of the consumer.
Since its inception in1991, the Ford Explorer has enjoyed a great deal of success in the automotive market. The original version is based on the popular Ford Ranger pickup truck, and shares many of that vehicle's characteristics, such as a rugged undercarriage and plenty of staying power on- and off-road. Additionally, this model was made in two or four-door body styles, and featured the upscale design most people were looking for in an SUV.
Later generations continued the tradition of excellence and helped keep the Explorer at the top of its class. In 2002, the third generation of the Explorer debuted with several revisions. Improved suspension provided the necessary stability for third-row seating, and the longer wheelbase gave the Explorer more interior room in general. The 2006 model year marked some impressive changes to this generation, with revised styling for the exterior and interior of the SUV and upgraded safety equipment.
For the 2011 model year, the Ford Explorer experienced another leap forward. This model year marked some serious changes: the interior was completely redesigned to allow for a more efficient use of space, and drivers report a more car-like performance and feel on the road when compared to previous models.