Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $7,500 – $24,500*

2006 Ford Explorer

2006 Ford Explorer

2006 Ford Explorer

2006 Ford Explorer

  • Acceleration (V8)
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room and comfort
  • Quietness
  • Ride
  • Fuel economy
  • Steering/handling

Like Mercury’s slightly more upscale Mountaineer, Explorer is a more-than-competent overall performer with an outstanding array of available useful features: V8 power, seven-passenger seating, curtain airbags, DVD entertainment, power-folding third-row seat, rear obstacle detection. The standard antiskid system was a laudable safety feature. Though a car-type SUV might be thriftier, those requiring Explorer’s towing ability will be well served. An Explorer serves trailering needs without giving up much refinement to lighter-duty midsize SUVs. Overall, this is a solid Recommended pick.


More V8 power, revised interior/exterior styling, and an available navigation system updated America’s best-selling sport-utility vehicle for 2006. Retaining its truck-type body-on-frame design, the midsize Explorer came with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive that could be left engaged on dry pavement and incorporated low-range gearing. Revisions for 2006 included a redesigned interior and updated exterior trim. Ford competed against the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, and Toyota 4Runner.

Two engines were offered: a V6 with 210 horsepower, and a V8 with 292 horsepower (up 53 over the prior year). The V6 came with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V8 got a new six-speed automatic.

Front side airbags were newly standard. An available third-row seat provided seven-passenger capacity; for 2006, it offered a power-folding feature.

Antilock braking was standard, as was Ford’s AdvanceTrac antiskid system with Roll Stability Control. That latter system was designed to detect an impending tipover and activate the antiskid system to reduce the chance of a rollover. Optional head-protecting curtain side airbags covered the first and second seating rows and were designed to deploy in side impacts and rollovers.

Also available were second-row bucket seats, rear DVD entertainment, a sunroof, 18-inch chrome wheels, rear obstacle detection, power-adjustable pedals, and, new for 2006, a navigation system. Ford made satellite radio available as an option during the 2006 model year.

Yearly Updates

2007 Explorer
Power running boards and a heated windshield joined the options list for 2007.
2008 Explorer
The 2008 Ford Explorer added some new features, including a “capless” fueling system.
2009 Explorer
The 2009 Ford Explorer was largely unchanged.
2010 Explorer
The 2010 Ford Explorer lineup was largely unchanged for what was its final model year in its current design.


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

Explorers had a choice of V6 or V8 power. The 4.0-liter V6 produces 210 horsepower, mating with a five-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic worked with the 292-horsepower 4.6-liter V8. Explorers could have rear-drive or four-wheel drive.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/245
Engine HP 210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 292
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 292
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



Road Test

Explorer V8 models offer ample power for most any situation. A test 2WD Limited accelerated to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. The V8’s six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but while part-throttle downshifts occur quickly, full-throttle downshifts may take longer. Ford said V6 Explorers and Mountaineers could accelerate to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds, which is acceptable for this class. Properly-equipped Explorers can tow as much as 7300 pounds.

Fuel economy in the teens is likely. A test 4WD V6 Eddie Bauer edition averaged 17.1 mpg. A 2WD V8 Limited averaged 15.1 mpg. Another V8 Limited averaged an even 15 mpg in mostly highway driving, so urban jaunts won’t be frugal. Ford recommends regular-grade fuel for both engines.

Ride comfort ranks among the best of truck-type SUVs. Explorer suspensions are compliant even with optional 18-inch tires, and devoid of sloppy motions.

Steering/handling is typical of truck-type SUVs, with some body lean in turns and delayed reactions in quick directional changes. Ford’s AdvanceTrac antiskid system and Roll Stability Control are laudable features designed to help prevent sideways skids and rollovers. Smooth, light steering is responsive and accurate, but accompanied by little road feel. Brake-pedal feel is good, with modest nosedive in quick stops.

Explorers and their Mercury Mountaineer mates are among the quieter SUVs. Wind and road noise are well muffled, as is noise over bumps. Engines intrude only under full throttle.

Explorer and Mountaineer cabins differ mainly in trim appearance. Both have large, clear main gauges. Ford’s redesigned dashboard puts the radio high, just out of easy reach. Climate controls are easily accessed, but mounted low, and rotary dials would be preferable to the automatic climate system’s buttons. Unlike earlier Explorers, which had a steering-column gearshift, the current lever goes on the console–where it blocks easy access to climate controls. The turn-signal stalk is mounted at an awkward angle. Rear climate controls are set into the ceiling, difficult to reach. Interior materials are mostly solid feeling, despite many hard plastic surfaces.

Comfortable front seats promise plenty of room, though entry/exit is complicated by fairly high step-in. Some occupants may find that poorly-placed door armrests block the pull handles underneath. Outward visibility is hindered by thick roof pillars, but second- and third-row headrests fold to reduce obstructions. The available rear-obstacle-detection system adds a measure of safety when backing up. Three adults can squeeze across in the roomy second row, where there’s generous headroom. Leg space only grows tight with front seats fully aft, and toe room is restricted. The third-row seat cushion is low to the floor and pancake-flat, and floor shape obstructs foot room, but headroom is expansive and leg space surprisingly good. Second-row seats tip forward in a single, easy motion, but access to the third row is still for the young and/or limber. Available power running boards automatically deploy when a door opens, but they don’t extend far enough to be wholly useful.

Second- and third-row seats fold nearly flat for ample cargo room, but they leave gaps large enough for smaller items to fall through. The separate-opening hatch glass is handy, but the hatch itself is weighty to open or close. Ford’s optional power-folding third row is a real convenience. Aside from a large console box, interior storage is meager.


Model Tested: Ford Explorer 4WD Limited V8

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 - 6
Fuel Economy - 3
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 8

Total: 62


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.7 193.4 73.7 72.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
85.8 22.5 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 38.7 42.4 36.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2007 Explorer 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: The shifter may not come out of park and require use of the manual override due to grease getting on the shift lockout switch. (2006-07)
Automatic transmission
Description: When coming to a slow stop, the 6R60 automatic transmission may cause a bump and when accelerating may hesitate or may hesitate when shifted into gear requiring deletion of the transmission control module learned info and then relearning it. (2007-08)
Description: The brakes may drag and overheat because either the brake pedal is adjusted all the way up and contacting the wiring harness or because of a defective brake switch that must be replaced. (2006)
Description: ABS and TRAC (traction control) lights may illuminate due to faulty ABS control module. (2006)
Description: The brake pedal may feel soft or mushy and if bleeding the system does not help, the brake pedal assembly must be replaced. (2006-08)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant leaks may occur on the heater hoses on both 4.0L and 4.6L engines requiring redundant or replacement hose clamps. (2006)
Fuel gauge
Description: When refueling, the nozzle may repeatedly click off or filling will slow down, especially in freezing weather, due to a problem with the fuel tank vent tube. (2006-08)
Hard starting
Description: The starter may not run due to a break in the wire between the starter relay and the starter motor. (2006-07)
Description: There was a campaign in effect (for vehicles that were built at the Louisville plant) until May, 2007 to replace the clamps on both radiator hoses due to leaks.
Steering noise
Description: Pops and clunks from the steering column, especially during slow speed turns, require replacement of the steering column intermediate shaft. (2006-07)
Transmission problems
Description: Hesitation when accelerating from a stop and a harsh bump when coming to a stop require reprogramming both the powertrain computer and the transmission control module on vehicles with the 6R60 transmission (2006-08)

Recall History

Description: Windshield wiper motor may have been produced without grease applied to output shaft gear; after continuous use at high speed, gear could distort or fracture, resulting in loss of wiper function.
Description: Two bolts that attach steering gear assembly to frame may have been over tightened; could result in bolt fracture, causing steering gear to loosen.
2008 Explorer with 4.6-liter V8 engine and 6R transmission
Description: A loose bolt may cause the transmission oil cooler line to leak. If leaking transmission fluid contacts the catalytic converter, it increases risk of fire. Dealers will inspect and have the transmission cooler line attachment bolt tightened.
2010 vehicles manufactured between December 15, 2009 and February 3, 2010 equipped with front seat manual recliners
Description: The recliner gear plate teeth may be out of dimension specification, which could result in limited pawl to gear plate tooth engagement. In the event of a crash, the seatback and head restraint may move rearward, increasing the risk of injury. Dealers will replace the manual recliners for both power and manual seats free of charge.

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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