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2004 Ford Explorer

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2004 Ford Explorer
Available in 32 styles:  2004 Ford Explorer 4dr 4x4 shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

15–16 city / 19–21 hwy


2004 Ford Explorer 4.0 37
$ 1,902-9,238
August 27, 2003
Vehicle Overview
Ford’s reworked Explorer sport utility vehicle arrived as an early 2002 model; it was enlarged from compact to midsize dimensions. A corporate twin to the Mercury Mountaineer, the fully redesigned Explorer promised significant improvements and a fresh look.

Engineers devised an innovative porthole-in-frame independent rear suspension that featured shafts that poke through holes drilled into the frame. In addition to a refined ride, this configuration allowed a lower step-in height and space for an optional third-row seat.

Second-row bucket seats go into 2004 Eddie Bauer and Limited models with third-row seating. The company’s AdvanceTrac electronic stability system is now available on both V-6- and V-8-equipped Explorers. An Off-Road Package that features 17-inch wheels, black cladding and step bars is standard with the NBX edition.

Four-door Explorers come in five trim levels: XLS, XLT, NBX, Eddie Bauer and Limited; Sport versions of the XLS and XLT are also available. Ford no longer offers the two-door Explorer Sport model.

Certain styling touches, such as a brawny front end, are supposed to hark back to the original 1990s Explorer. Good-sized door openings coupled with the reduced step-in height make entry and exit easier.

Built on a 113.8-inch wheelbase, the Explorer measures 189.5 inches long overall. Ground clearance is 8.5 inches. Lowered bumpers are roughly compatible with a midsize sedan in a minor collision. Options include a power moonroof and running boards.

Seating for five people is standard, but a third-row seat that allows for a seven-passenger capacity may be installed. Standard XLS equipment includes a rear wiper and washer, remote keyless entry, cruise control and a CD player. The XLT adds a cargo cover, an overhead console, a six-way power driver’s seat, an outside-temperature display and a compass.

The Eddie Bauer and Limited models include dual-zone automatic temperature control, power-adjustable pedals, an in-dash six-CD changer, heated leather bucket seats and heated mirrors. Cargo volume in the five-passenger Explorer totals 81.7 cubic feet with the rear seat folded forward. A DVD entertainment system for the rear seat is optional.

Under the Hood
A 4.0-liter V-6 engine develops 210 horsepower, while the optional 4.6-liter V-8 produces 239 hp. Both engines mate with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Explorers may have rear-wheel drive or ControlTrac four-wheel drive.

Antilock brakes are standard. Optional side curtain-type airbags may be augmented by a Safety Canopy system that features rollover sensors. Ford’s AdvanceTrac system combines traction control with electronic stability control. A Reverse Sensing System that detects obstacles while backing up is optional.

Driving Impressions
Unlike earlier Explorers, which were quite trucky, the current version is more refined and carlike. The suspension produces a ride experience that’s suitable for a modern SUV.

The Explorer’s performance is adequate with V-6 power, but it falls short of vigorous. Acceleration isn’t quite overpowering with the V-8, but it’s decidedly stronger. Shifts from the automatic transmission are noticeable, but the result isn’t particularly bothersome. A moderate drone occurs during acceleration.

The Explorer is easy to drive and maneuver; it handles capably enough. Though it is stable in tight curves, this SUV might not instill the kind of higher-speed confidence that some drivers prefer. Interior space is abundant, but the moonroof cuts a bit into the driver’s headroom.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com;
Posted on 8/27/03

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