While SUVs have waxed and waned along the automotive scene, the Ford Explorer offers a rare permanency. This mid-size option debuted in 1990 and has since become one of the world’s most popular (and most enduring) vehicles.
Keeping pace with manufacturing trends is no simple task. Ford, however, has constantly adapted its Explorer to the demands of the public, creating a SUV that’s always powerful and always capable. When the first generation model appeared in April of 1990, it was met with much acclaim - with critics and drivers alike celebrating its V6 capacity, four-wheel drivetrain and push-button shifting. These features secured high sales, topping the charts with approximately 140,000 units.
Back in the 90’s I owned a forest green 1991 Ford Explorer. The 1991 was Ford’s roll out of the Explorer replacing the Bronco II (which was in my opinion a horrible vehicle). Before the Explorer I owned a full sized Bronco. The full size Bronco was an amazing work horse but mostly it shined off road. I could blast through the out back and explore logging roads of the Cascades. My young daughters and I enjoyed many an off road adventure. I loved it but it was still a truck – a noisy, bumpy and ‘roughing it’ truck at that.
The Explorer for me took the concept of off road and comfort to a whole level. It had power, comfort and looks while being a great utility vehicle for transporting the kids to school, sports and various activities in and around Seattle. It was still a four-wheel drive and I didn’t have to jump out in the typical Pacific Northwest fowl weather and switch it on – there was a switch inside the vehicle.
Back then there were many improvements made to the Explorer that made a 4X4 ride like a car on the highway but give you the confidence of being higher up. Today the Explorer is still as popular as it was when it hit the streets and back roads in 1991!
Ford wasn’t content to languish in its initial success. Instead it reinvented the Explorer - again and again. Each year it’s fused this model with new technology and dynamic drivetrains. This has inspired strong sales and multiple variants, including the XLT, the Limited, the Sport and the Platinum. Five generations deliver optimum performance.
The Explorer serves as a cornerstone of Ford, launching its SUV lineup to the top of the charts. To accomplish this it’s offered drivers several notable features, including:
The Cologne V6 Engine: the Explorer was among the first Fords to boast a 4.0 Cologne V6, connecting consumers to hydraulic roller lifters, pushrod functionality and 225 lb.-ft of torque.
Flex-Fuel Technology: the Explorer embraced flex-fuel technology, combining ethanol and gasoline for superior economy.
Terrain Management System: though not the first to offer a Terrain Management System, the Explorer none-the-less defined the feature. It combined electronic stability control with distinct drive modes, ensuring greater precision on the road.
Ford understands the SUV market. This is why it fuses the Explorer with so many crucial functions.
The decades have been kind to the Ford Explorer, securing it many awards. These include:
Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year: 1994 Automobile Magazine’s Readers’ Choice All-Star List: 1998 Consumer Guide’s Best Buy: 2000 Edmund’s Most Wanted Vehicle: 2003 AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle: 2010
North American Truck of the Year: 2011
Few vehicles have left such a lasting impression as the Explorer. This Ford powerhouse shapes the SUV market.
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