The Ford Explorer was introduced by the Ford Motor Company in 1990. It offers a full-size crossover sports utility vehicle option and replaced the smaller Ford Bronco II. The Ford Explorer was pivotal in turning the sports utility vehicle (SUV) into one of the most driven vehicle types today; offering the room of a van, with a twist on style. It offers drivers a sports utility vehicle option sized between the Ford Escape and the Ford Expedition in the Ford line.
The Ford Explorer was originally offered as both a two-door Ford Explorer Sport and a four-door option. In the beginning, there were two Ford Explorer models, the XLS and XLT Ford Explorer. The Eddie Bauer edition was introduced in 1992 and the Limited trim level was introduced soon after. A Ford Explorer Special Service Vehicle was also manufactured to provide vehicles to law enforcement agencies, fire departments and EMS agencies.
The second generation Ford Explorer model, manufactured from 1995 to 2001, offered the XL, XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited and Sport trims and featured three engine options. An additional Ford Explorer North Face model was available only to the United Kingdom. In 2001, Ford introduced the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, which featured four SUV doors with a truck bed. Drivers noted the comfortable and roomy space; however, this generation of the Ford Explorer rated low in handling and off-road capability.
Over the next several years, the Ford Explorer saw several structural changes. In the third generation, the Ford Explorer was equipped with an independent rear suspension. Due to the addition of the Ford Freestyle to the Ford product line, the fourth generation Ford Explorer saw an increase in size, with the addition of third-row seating. Further additions were made to make the Ford Explorer more luxurious and more competitive with other sports utility vehicles entering the market.
In 2011, the design of the Ford Explorer underwent drastic changes. The standard engine is a 3.5 liter, 290-hp V6 engine, while a 237-hp turbo charged, 4-cylindar engine as an option. The Ford Explorer transmission is a six-speed automatic, which can be driven as rear-wheel or all-wheel. The Ford Explorer still offers three models, the base model, the XLT and the Limited. Depending on the model, options for the Ford Explorer include: leather seating, a rearview camera, navigation system, keyless remote entry/start, premium audio system, automatic parallel parking, and the Ford Sync voice command system among upgrades.
The Ford Explorer opened the door to a new vehicle concept, the sports utility vehicle for the everyday driver. With constant modifications to stay competitive, the Ford Explorer continues to be a popular choice for sports utility drives to this day.