I've driven a 2001 Ford Explorer XLT for 5 years now, and my mom drove it for 2 years before that. We got it for really cheap with a salvage title, and it's been consistent and reliable. We have the 4...
I've driven a 2001 Ford Explorer XLT for 5 years now, and my mom drove it for 2 years before that. We got it for really cheap with a salvage title, and it's been consistent and reliable. We have the 4.0l V6 with an automatic transmission.
The gas mileage is embarrassing, and the tires are ridiculously expensive, but it holds its own and starts and drives every time I want it to. The 4x4 is awesome, and it seems to work for the car they put it into. I once got myself out of a ditch in Michigan in a snowstorm almost immediately and without effort just by trying with the 4x4 engaged, which honestly is the event that made this car worth dealing with the gas mileage to me.
I don't like the styling, and the buttons/knobs are the same cheap plastic they used in my 1994 Aerostar (they literally might be interchangeable in some places - it's ugly). The cloth is nice, I've yet to tear any of it or have it stain unreasonably. I replaced the stock stereo with an updated system, but I kind of miss the 6 disc changer that comes with the premium sound package. Mine's got 2 12v "cigarette lighter" plugs (one front and center and one down near the floor on the passenger side), two cup holders, a built-in tissue dispenser with a coin dispenser built in, and plenty of room in the glove compartment and the center console to hold anything you could possibly need. The back seats fold mostly flat (if you're tall, the driver's seat inhibits it going down past a certain point, but the area is still pretty flat, and huge).
I do all the maintenance myself, and changing the oil is a quick affair. The brake pads are easy to get to and easy to replace as well. The hydraulic lifts in the hood and back hatch went bad at some point, but if they were original, they lasted for ten or more years, so that's not bad. Cheap replacements are available. The back wiper snapped off when it became frozen to the window, but that's my fault not Ford's. Parts have been cheap enough, as cheap as you'd expect domestic car parts to be, which is nice. Lots and lots of aftermarket parts are available. I've never done any real major maintenance on the car, Just brakes, tires and oil changes every 3-5k miles, keep the fluids topped off. I would take this on a road trip today with an oil change and a quick inspection.
It is an SUV and handles as such, and I definitely prefer driving something a little bit lower to the ground, the car doesn't corner well (although it's not scary if you just take it easy), but it accelerates quickly, and it's heavy enough despite its design not to blow around on the highway too much. It's high enough to see out of over traffic, and that makes it much less stressful driving in traffic jams as most of the time you can see a lot over the car in front of you.
Overall, I suppose if I had a kid, this is a car I would get for them. Very safe, very tall, powerful but not too powerful. Lots of cargo room, or seats if you need them. Insurance isn't too expensive, either.