Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), also known as "sticker" price, is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car that is above the invoice price paid by the dealer. It is a price that does not include any options that can be added to a particular car style. When shown as a range, the prices are starting MSRPs, without options, for multiple styles for that model.
This price range reflects the Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value for all trim levels, but not necessarily all available options.
The Kelley Blue Book Suggested Retail value represents the amount an auto dealer might ask for a specific vehicle; the actual sale price will vary. A vehicle's popularity, condition, warranty, color and local market conditions are factors involved in determining a final price. The retail value is not a trade-in or private party value.
The Suggested Retail value assumes that the vehicle has been fully reconditioned and has a clean title history. The Suggested Retail value also allows for advertising, sales commissions, insurance and other costs of doing business as a dealer. Most vehicles offered at this price have passed an inspection, and some may carry a warranty. Vehicle mileage is assumed to be normal or below normal.
Best Bets get above-average mpg, class-average or better reliability, class-average or better crash-test ratings, and our recommendation.
By Jim Flammang
August 27, 2003
Vehicle Overview Fords 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 companys 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 drivers 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. Fords AdvanceTrac system combines traction control with electronic stability control. A Reverse Sensing System that detects obstacles while backing up is optional.
Unlike earlier Explorers, which were quite trucky, the current version is more refined and carlike. The suspension produces a ride experience thats suitable for a modern SUV.
The Explorers performance is adequate with V-6 power, but it falls short of vigorous. Acceleration isnt quite overpowering with the V-8, but its decidedly stronger. Shifts from the automatic transmission are noticeable, but the result isnt 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 drivers headroom.