Ford Explorer is an iconic SUV that has been around for over 25 years. But When Did Ford Explorer Change Body Style?
Many people are unaware of the history of Ford Explorer. It’s undergone many changes over the years, and some people may not even realize that it’s still being made today.
Amortips has put together a comprehensive history of Ford Explorer, detailing when it changed body style and why. We’ve also compiled a gallery of images showing the different models throughout the years.
The Ford Explorer is a popular SUV that has undergone several changes since it was first introduced in the early 1990s. The most recent change to the Explorer’s body style occurred in 2011, when Ford updated the design of the SUV to give it a more modern look. Prior to this, the last major change to the Explorer’s body style took place in 2006, when Ford redesigned the SUV from a truck-based platform to a car-based one. This allowed for a more comfortable ride and improved fuel economy.
The original Explorer was constructed on the pickup truck chassis of the Ford Ranger and shared many features with its more practical brother, including body panels forward of the A-pillar and a dashboard. The Explorer resembled the (also Ranger-based) two-door Ford Bronco II small SUV of the 1989 and 1990 model years, although it was a full sector size bigger.
The Explorer Sport was 12.6 inches longer and 2.2 inches wider than the Bronco II, while the four-door Explorer was 22.4 inches longer. It was also more aerodynamic and contemporary in appearance, due to flush side glass, integrated mirrors, and the absence of drip rails, which were still employed on the Ranger at the time. The Explorer was also available in a well-known, two-tone Eddie Bauer trim, a nod to the adventurous apparel retailer. The Eddie Bauer Explorer was such a success that it was brought back for future generations.
Mazda, speaking of Mazda, offered its own version of the first-generation Explorer. The Navajo, which was based on the Explorer Sport, was only available with two doors. While the Explorer from 1991 to 1994 was an instant smash, the Navajo never really caught on with purchasers.
However, the Explorer did. It sold 140,509 copies in its first year. It more than quadrupled that in its second year, with 282,837 sales. By the end of 1993, the SUV had sold 300,000 units.
Because most Explorer purchasers did not travel off-road, the second-generation model’s redesign was upgraded for better on-road manners, further distinguishing the Explorer from the Ranger pickup truck on which it was still based. The I-Beam front suspension was rebuilt with a new, independent wishbone design, but a live axle remained out back.
The Explorer’s outer appearance significantly increased the gap between it and the Ranger. Instead of resembling a truck with a well-integrated camper cover, the new Explorer had a more rounded appearance of its own. There was also a lot more power beneath the hood. Ford introduced a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 210 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque in 1996. Ford introduced a 4.0-liter V6 with a single overhead cam to the option list in 1997. This updated mill produced 205 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. However, the standard 4.0-liter V6 produced just 160 horsepower. This year, V6 Explorers were also available with a five-speed automatic transmission, which was rather advanced for the time.
After 1994, this version of Explorer said “goodbye” to its Mazda platform-mate, but the midsize SUV wasn’t alone for long. The Mercury Mountaineer debuted in 1997, with just the 5.0-liter V8, but future years added V6 power as an option.
By the turn of the century, the Explorer’s biggest news was its Firestone tires blowing out due to tread separation, resulting in several rollovers, 271 deaths, and up to 23 million tires recalled by both Firestone and Ford. Meanwhile, the blue oval was introducing the Explorer Sport Trac, a new pickup truck variation with four doors, a 14.3-inch larger wheelbase, and a 4.2-foot composite truck bed.
When it came to sales, the Explorer was at its peak. The SUV sold 395,227 units in 1995, at the start of the second generation. The Explorer hit an all-time high of 445,157 units in 2000. A year later, it finished the generation with still-healthy 415,921 deliveries.
The third-generation Ford Explorer was no longer linked to the Ford Ranger, continuing the trend of being more family hauling-centric than off-road-ready. However, it remained a body-on-frame SUV. Despite its truck-like origins, this Explorer was more car-like than ever. A new independent rear suspension not only improved the ride, but it also made room for the newly available third row of seats, raising the total number of occupants to seven.
The second-generation Explorer’s standard engine was a 4.0-liter V6 with 210 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, but the third generation included a more powerful 4.6-liter, single-overhead-cam, all-aluminum V8 with 240 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Because of the increased V8 engine and body-on-frame design, this Explorer could tow up to 7,300 pounds.
The Mazda-sourced five-speed manual gearbox was also available with the V6, although it was only available for the first model year, following which all Explorers were only available with the five-speed automatic. In 2003, the Explorer Sport, which was still based on the previous-generation model, met its maker.
The Explorer not only said goodbye to the manual transmission and two-door option, but it also said goodbye to its excellent sales records. The Explorer was still selling well in 2002, with 433,847 units sold for the year, but by 2005, sales had dropped 45 percent from three years earlier to only 239,788 units, as more buyers switched from conventional SUVs to car-based crossovers.
While the Explorer’s popularity started to wane, its newest platform-mate, the Lincoln Aviator, was never a big success and was phased out after 2005.
After roughly a decade of car-based crossovers eating the Explorer’s lunch, Ford ultimately succumbed and created an Explorer based on the Taurus sedan that followed the lead of popular, car-based crossovers like as the Toyota Highlander.
The Explorer’s revival was undoubtedly aided by much increased fuel efficiency. The fifth-generation began with a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque and a six-speed automated gearbox. The Explorer’s new engine and car-based design allowed it to attain 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for all-wheel-drive models and 18/25 city/highway mpg for front-wheel-drive variants. That’s much superior than the gas-guzzling 2010 Explorer. The EPA rates it at 13/19 city/highway mpg when fitted with a V6 and four-wheel drive.
To further entice budget-conscious buyers, the Explorer also included a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, enabling the first four-cylinder Explorer to earn 20/27 city/highway mpg. That engine was subsequently replaced with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produced 280 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
While the V8 was no longer available, Ford continued to increase power under the hood. The Explorer Sport returned to the lineup in 2013, this time with four doors and a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 producing 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. The Explorer with the normally aspirated V6 and the previous V8-powered vehicle both had a 0-60 time of less than six seconds.
The SUV had a cosmetic refresh in 2016, followed by further modest design changes in 2018. Throughout this generation’s nine years, Ford has infused more technology into its midsize SUV. As a consequence, the 2019 Explorer has the most advanced safety and driver-support systems available, including collision-mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, automated parallel parking, automatic high lights, and rain-sensing wipers. There’s built-in Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto to keep those along for the voyage engaged.
This plan seemed to be working in Ford’s advantage. The Explorer sold 135,704 units in 2011, more than doubling its volume from the previous year and outselling the Highlander by more than 34,000 units. Sales increased almost every year until the fifth-generation reached a high of 271,131 in 2017. Last year was also a good year for the Explorer, as it fell just 10,000 sales short of breaking the previous year’s record. Nonetheless, the Explorer became America’s best-selling three-row SUV.
Yes, if our latest story of the tape is any indication. The all-new sixth-generation Explorer has more interior room, technology, power, and capacity than before, which not only distinguishes it from the competitors but should also help it maintain its sales lead.
Inside, the redesigned SUV will be able to carry more cargo. The cargo volume has increased by 6.1 cubic feet to 87.8 cubic feet, making it large enough to transport a 4×8 piece of plywood. Passengers will also benefit from the finest second- and third-row headroom in the class.
Technology has also much improved. The new Explorer has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Waze navigation on an 8-inch touchscreen, as well as in-car Wi-Fi and four USB connections as standard. Collision-mitigation braking with pedestrian recognition, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic warning, automatic high lights, and a self-washing rearview camera are among the standard safety features.
That’s a lot of stuff for a basic model, but for those looking for more from the new platform, the Explorer Platinum (which is expected to start at $56,000) will come with a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 producing 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine is likewise mated to a 10-speed automatic, but it is only available with all-wheel drive and a front axle disconnect. The increased power brings the total towing capability to 5,600 pounds.
Embedded navigation on a vertical, 10.1-inch touchscreen with pinch-to-zoom capabilities, a 360-degree camera, automatic parallel parking, adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition, evasive steering aid, and rain-sensing wipers will be available. Check out our first look at the new Explorer for additional details.
Ford will also sell a hybrid version of the Explorer, as well as a performance-oriented Explorer ST, although specifics on those will not be available until the entire 2020 Explorer range is revealed at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.
The new Explorer’s base price rises $400 over 2019 to $33,760 (including a $995 projected destination fee), but a sixth-generation SUV with no options will be much nicer than a fifth-generation SUV with no extras. First, it will have greater power, thanks to a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque and sending it to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automated gearbox. That’s enough power and torque to pull up to 5,300 pounds, which is 2,300 pounds more than the four-cylinder Explorer from this year.
The 2019 Ford Explorer is all new. When it goes on sale this summer, it will be the first time in eight years that the Explorer has undergone a complete redesign.
Yes, the 2020 Ford Explorer is all-new. When it goes on sale this summer, it will be the first time in eight years that the Explorer has undergone a complete redesign. The new model will have standard rear-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive, a reconfigured interior, and more standard driver assistance features.
Unibody platform, with a longitudinally mounted engine and conventional rear-wheel drive, copies the layout seen in many luxury SUVs. The Explorer’s construction has changed three times since it went from being a body-on-frame, truck-based SUV for its first four generations to being a transverse-engined SUV. …
The 2019 Ford Explorer is a mid-size SUV that seats up to seven people and offers a rear-wheel-drive underpinning (all-wheel drive is optional) instead of the front-drive platforms used in this class. For 2021, the three-row SUV gets some minor enhancements, such as equipment and packaging modifications, as well as reduced pricing.
The Ford Explorer’s two finest years were 2010 and 2011. The 2010 Ford Explorer is a touch older, but it has an exceptionally dependable engine. 2011 is quite similar to 2011, but it offers more modern features that many people enjoy. Both previous and present generations have a number of serious problems.
Transmission issue with the Ford Explorer. The gearbox is the most well-known Ford Explorer issue.
When shifting, the transmission lunges and delivers a hard jolt.
The car stalls due to transmission failure.
Failure of a Wheel Bearing
Bubbling Paint on a Ford Explorer
It’s unlikely that you’ll come across one of these SUVs in good enough condition to be worth anything in 2021, but if you do, we suggest avoiding it. The Ford Explorer model years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 are severely troublesome and will cost more to maintain than they are worth.
The 2002 Ford Explorer has transmission and suspension issues, as well as a common issue with cracking body panels. When it comes to full-size SUVs during the past 20 years, the 2002 Ford Explorer is the worst-rated car by owners according to Vehicle History.
The Ford Explorer has had many different body styles over the years. It’s been interesting to see how the design of this popular SUV has changed over time. We hope you enjoyed learning about the different body styles of the Ford Explorer as much as we did!
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