The Ford Explorer is found everywhere in America, from country back roads to congested strip mall parking lots. It’s the Toyota Corolla of the SUV segment; cheap, reliable and everyone seems to have one.
HISTORY OF THE FORD EXPLORER
When the Explorer was first released in 1990, it was a traditional body-on-frame SUV, with a profile as square as a dorm party full of straight-edgers. Over the years, its appearance became more rounded, and its demeanor more car-like. Regardless of the changes that have taken place, the Explorer has always remained a strong seller.
Second Generation Ford Explorer (1995-2001)
Rounded sheet metal was just one of the changes made to the Explorer, which underwent a complete redesign in 1995. Most of the greasy bits were updated as well, the most notable being a car-like front suspension – a big improvement over the first generation’s bone jarring ride.
Third Generation Ford Explorer (2002-2005)
Until the year 2002, the Explorer had shared a great deal of its sheet metal and underpinnings with the Ford Ranger Pickup truck. But for the third generation, the Explorer ditched its blue collar, pick-em-up truck roots in favor of a more polished demeanor, with refinements such as a rear-independent suspension
Fourth Generation Ford Explorer (2006-2010)
Not to be overshadowed by its new sibling, the Ford Freestyle, the fourth generation Ford Explorer grew in size. The growth spurt, in addition to numerous chassis and interior tweaks, earned the 2006 Ford Explorer a North American Truck of the Year nomination.
Fifth Generation Ford Explorer (2011-Present)
The fifth Generation is where things get really interesting. The Explorer, which started life with live axles and a body-on-frame design, began a new chapter as a unibody crossover. The off-road centric rig of the past was replaced by a people-mover, designed primary for the pavement. All of the latest technology for the digital era was onboard as well, including the Ford SYNC vehicle communications system. Powertrain options included a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, a 3.5L 6-cylinder engine or a 3.5L turbocharged 6-cylinder. Front wheel drive was standard with all-wheel drive being optional. All fifth generation explorers got a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The 2013 model year introduced a new Sport trim Explorer, featuring a turbocharged engine and sport-tuned suspension. Other new features included a front passenger knee airbag, heated steering wheel, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam control. Ford 2014, the Explorer remained virtually unchanged.
The Explorer has come a long way since its humble beginning as a truck-based SUV. Regardless of the alterations, it has always remained one of the bestselling SUVs (or should we say, crossovers) to grace both the city streets and muddy roads of the good ol’ U.S.A.