Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 2-door wagon
  • 4-door wagon
  • crew cab
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $10,300*

1996 Ford Explorer V8 4-door wagon

1991 Ford Explorer 2-door wagon

1991 Ford Explorer 4-door wagon

1995 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer interior

1995 Ford Explorer XLT 4-door wagon

  • Acceleration (V8)
  • Antilock brakes (optional later models)
  • 4WD traction
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Visibility
  • Engine noise (ohv V6)
  • Fuel economy
  • Wind noise

Not cheap, an Explorer offers the utility of a minivan and the hauling power of a truck. If you’re a likely prospect for a smaller sport utility, best not to buy until you’ve test-driven Ford’s compact. But try a Chevy Blazer and Jeep Grand Cherokee, too. We do like the added versatility of the Sport Trac’s crew cab design.


New from the ground up, the Explorer replaced the Bronco II as Ford’s compact sport-utility vehicle. Both 2- and 4-door body styles went on sale. The 2-door used a 102.1-inch wheelbase, and the 4-door a 111.9-inch wheelbase. The sole engine in early years was a 4.0-liter V6. Both body styles came with either on-demand 4-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. Antilock brakes operate only in rear-wheel drive. Power steering was standard. Until 1994, Mazda sold a nearly identical 2-door sport-utility called Navajo.

Yearly Updates

1992 Explorer
No significant change came for 1992. Eddie Bauer models got color-accented wheels; Sport and XLT gained a rear wiper/washer.
1993 Explorer
New 4-wheel antilock braking worked in both 2- and 4-wheel drive. Previously,
ABS acted only on rear wheels, and just in 2WD.
1994 Explorer
Minor trim changes marked the ’94 Explorers. Fog lamps now were optional on XLT and Eddie Bauer models.
1995 Explorer
Explorers got their first notable redesigning, led by a freshened exterior that featured a new sloping hood, fenders, bumper, headlights, and grille. Dual airbags, 4-wheel antilock brakes, and Control Trac 4WD went into 1995 models. Control Trac could be left on at all times if desired.
1996 Explorer
A V8 became available for ’96, but initially only on the 2WD XLT with automatic.
1997 Explorer
Ford added another new engine for ’97, a single-cam 4.0-liter V6. It was rated at 205 horsepower and mated to a new 5-speed automatic transmission. Other changes included an electronic transfer case for 4WD models. Mercury added a 4-door-only version of Explorer called Mountaineer
1998 Explorer
Explorer sees only minor changes for 1998.
1999 Explorer
Available front side airbags and Reverse Sensing System highlighted the changes for ’99. Also new were larger front and rear bumpers and an XLS appearance package for the XL. The Reverse Sensing System gives an audible warning of nearby objects when backing up.
2000 Explorer
A new XLS base model replaced the prior XL, including standard power mirrors, windows, and locks, all of which had previously been optional. Early in 2000, an Explorer Sport Trac debuted with a short open bed to the rear of its closed 4-door passenger compartment, but as a 2001 model.
2001 Explorer Sport and Sport Trac
Joining the new Sport Trac was a revised 2-door model called the Sport. Later in the model year, the 4-door was dropped and replaced by an all-new model
called simply Explorer. Automatic transmission became standard instead of optional, and a 210-horsepower V6 replaced the standard 160-hp V6 for 2001.
2002 Explorer Sport and Sport Trac
Little change was evident for the 4-door pickup and 2-door wagon version of Explorer.
2003 Explorer Sport and Sport Trac
For ’03 Sport Trac gets 4-wheel disc brakes and an available side-curtain airbag system. Sports are no longer available with side airbags.
2004 Explorer Sport Trac
The 2-door Explorer Sport was dropped for 2004, leaving only the pickup/SUV combo Sport Trac model.
2005 Explorer Sport Trac
The Sport Trac crew cab returns for 2005 virtually unchanged.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

A 4.0-liter, overhead-valve V6 engine powered all Explorers until 1996. With that engine a 5-speed manual gearbox was standard; 4-speed automatic transmission optional. In 1999 the 4-speed automatic was replaced by a 5-speed unit. A 210-horsepower V8 arrived for 1996. It was available only on 4-doors with the 4-speed automatic. In 1998 Ford added an overhead-cam 4.0-liter V6 mated only to a 5-speed automatic. Initially 4WD Explorers got Touch-Drive, a part-time system that engages or disengages 4WD by pushing a dashboard button. Budget-minded buyers could order a more elementary 4WD system, with a floor-mounted transfer-case lever and manually-selectable front hubs, as a credit option. Four-wheel-drive V8 models get a full-time all-wheel-drive system, and Ford also offered a full-time system called Control-Trac. The 4.0-liter ohc V6 engine became standard, replacing other available engines in 2001 Sport and Sport Trac models. A 4.6-liter V8 engine was available for 4-door models in 2002.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/245
Engine HP 145-160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220-225
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic
ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/245
Engine HP 205-210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 240-250
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/302
Engine HP 210-215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 280-288
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic
ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 280
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


Road Test

Explorers are easy to enter and depart from, due to a relatively low step-in height. Head room is generous all around. Rear leg space is adequate. There’s plenty of space for three abreast in the back of a 4-door. Split front seat backs fold flat to create a long load floor that suffers little intrusion from the rear wheels. There’s no spare tire in the way of cargo, either. Controls are simple, analog gauges clearly legible; visibility fine through deep side and rear windows.

Acceleration is adequate from the ohv V6 engine, but it is sluggish and rough when first stomping the pedal and averaged a low 15.9 mpg. Eight-cylinder engines provide outstanding acceleration, and equally depressing fuel economy. The ohc V6 is probably the best option. It offers ample acceleration and averaged 20.4 mpg. Though smoother and quieter than the ohv unit, the ohc V6 engine feels a little rough and sounds gruff at low speeds. The automatic transmission responds neatly, and shifts nearly flawlessly–quick and unobtrusive.

The relatively long, wide stance gives either Explorer reasonable stability in turns, though you get a choppy ride from the shorter-wheelbase 3-door. Steering precisely, cornering confidently, an Explorer suffers less body lean than Chevrolet’s Blazer.


Model Tested: 2002 Ford Explorer Sprt Trac 4WD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 6


Value - 6

Total: 51


2-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.7 178.6 68.2 67.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
69.4 17.5 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 39.1 42.4 36.6
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
111.5 188.5 70.2 67.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
81.6 21.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 39.3 42.4 37.7
crew cab
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
125.9 205.9 71.8 70.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1500 20.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 38.9 42.4 37.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Explorer Sport 2-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 120
Injury 81
Theft 174

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Water may drip onto the floor when the air conditioner is operated because the evaporator strip seals were not properly positioned. (1995-96)
Description: Brakes may be grabby after being parked in damp weather due to moisture absorbed by linings. Revised rear shoes are offered. (1991-94)
Description: Hopping, binding sensation from rear axle caused by binding limited-slip clutch packs requires revised clutch packs and reformulated gear lube. (2002-04)
Hard starting
Description: If the engine does not start or cranks for a long time then stalls, the idle air-control valve may be sticking. (1996)
Heater core
Description: Installing a restrictor in the heater inlet hose may repair heater cores leaks. (1991-20002)
Keyless entry
Description: Remote keyless entry quits due to Remote Anti-theft Personality (RAP) module damaged by static electricity requiring a redundant ground on the passenger seats. (1995-97)
Description: The radiator may leak in cold weather because of a bad seal between the tank and core. (1995-96)
Spark plugs
Description: Spark plug hole threads in cylinder heads are easily damaged or stripped out when removing plugs because carbon builds up on them. (2004-05)
Suspension problems
Description: The sway bar links bend or break because the original bushings are too rigid. (1995-2002)
Vehicle noise
Description: A chattering noise that can be felt coming from the rear during tight turns after highway driving is caused by a lack of friction modifier or over-shimming of the clutch packs in the Traction-Lok differential. (1991-96)
Vehicle noise
Description: Synthetic-rubber radius-arm bushings separate internally, causing noise and degraded steering control. (All)
Vehicle noise
Description: Loose frame rivets should be replaced with bolts (welding is not approved). (1991-96)
Transmission problems
Description: Transmission flare when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear is due to shift solenoid malfunction. (1997-2001)

Recall History

Description: Seatbelts may be defective, resulting in insufficiently latched or unlatched belt.
Description: Front heat shield may contact plastic fuel tank, causing damage to the extent of penetration.
Description: Hot weld that attaches vapor vent-valve carrier to plastic fuel tank may partially fracture, allowing escape of fuel vapor.
1991 w/A4LD automatic transmission
Description: Vehicle may appear to be in “Park” position, when gear is not truly engaged.
1991-01 Explorer w/speed control system
Description: The speed control deactivation switch may, under certain conditions, leak internally and then overheat, smoke, or burn. This could result in an underhood fire. Dealers will install a fused wiring harness.
1991-93 w/factory sunroof
Description: Sunroof glass-panel assembly can separate while vehicle is moving.
Description: On cars sold or registered in specified southern California counties, studs that attach master cylinder to power-brake-booster assembly can develop stress corrosion cracking after extended period; fractures could cause separation of master cylinder when brakes are applied.
Description: Bracket welds for liftgate’s hydraulic lift cylinders can fracture.
Description: Short circuit can occur in remote power mirror switch’s circuit board; overheated board and other plastic and elastomeric components can result in smoke or fire.
1993-94 w/manual shift
Description: Parking-brake self-adjust pawl does not line up properly and can slip.
Description: Some hydraulic lift cylinder-bracket welds could fracture, resulting in potential for liftgate bracket to gradually bend, allowing ball stud to disengage.
Description: Passenger-side airbag’s inflator body may be cracked and not inflate properly; also, igniter end cap can separate, causing hot gases to be released.
Description: Inner tie-rod assemblies can fracture, resulting in shaking or shimmy at low speeds.
1995 2-door
Description: Brake tubes in some models were misrouted, resulting in excessive stopping distance.
Description: Front-stabilizer-bar link stud can fracture from bending fatigue.
Description: Driver’s door, when closed only to secondary latched position, may not sustain specified load.
Description: Gas-cylinder bracket may not properly support rear liftgate.
Description: Certification label shows incorrect rear-tire-inflation pressure.
1996-97 in 15 northern states
Description: After operation at highway speeds, at below 20 degrees (F), engine may not return to idle.
Description: Certain off-lease vehicles, Canadian in origin but sold in the U.S., have daytime running lights that do not meet U.S. specifications.
1997-98 w/SOHC 4.0-liter engine
Description: Fuel lines can be damaged and fire could result if vehicle is jump-started and ground cable is attached to fuel-line bracket near battery.
1997-98 w/4.0-liter engine
Description: A gap between the plate and bore of throttle body was too narrow, causing the throttle pedal to stick.
Description: Speed-control cable on certain vehicles can interfere with servo pulley, preventing throttle from returning to idle when disengaging the speed control.
1998 Eddie Bauer and Limited
Description: Key-in-ignition/door-open warning chime may not function properly.
Description: Secondary hood latch on certain vehicles may corrode and stick in open position.
Description: Right-front brake line to hydraulic control unit connection could separate, causing leakage when brake pedal is applied.
1999-00 w/4.0-liter engine and AWD
Description: Generic electronic module could “lock-up,” so various functions (front wipers, interior lights, 4×4 system, etc.) could not be turned on or off.
1999-00 w/3.27 or 3.55 rear axle
Description: Powertrain-control module could allow the vehicle to exceed the design intent top speed.
2000 w/side airbags
Description: Side airbags could deploy if ignition key is in “run” position and seatbelt webbing is extracted from locked retractor with jerking motion.
2000-01 Sport and Sport Trac
Description: Hood striker could fracture causing the hood to fly open while the vehicle is being driven.
2001-02 Explorer w/ high back seats
Description: The upper bolt on the driver’s side high back seat could fracture, allowing the seat to recline until it makes contact with an object behind the seat, and thus increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will replace the driver seat upper bolt. In addition, seats with tubular back frames will have the fully threaded lower recliner bolt replaced.
2001-02 Explorer Sport w/speed control system
Description: The speed control deactivation switch may, under certain conditions, leak internally and then overheat, smoke, or burn. This could result in an underhood fire. Dealers will install a fused wiring harness.
2001-02 Ford Explorers Sport Trac w/speed control system
Description: The speed control deactivation switch may, under certain conditions, leak internally and then overheat, smoke, or burn. This could result in an underhood fire. Dealers will install a fused wiring harness.
2002 Explorer
Description: Right-side tires may have horizontal cuts in the tread that could have occurred during assembly.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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