2002 Ford Explorer

Change year or car

Change year or car


starting MSRP

2002 Ford Explorer

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

Rear-wheel drive



4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2002 Ford Explorer trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2023

2002 Ford Explorer review: Our expert's take


There aren’t many nicer driving roads in North America than California’s Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway One or simply the PCH.

Our choice to negotiate the PCH, especially the twisty, mountainous route that snakes north from San Francisco toward Eureka, would be a little convertible or even a sport sedan.

Instead, we found ourselves recently tackling this challenging road in a 2002 Ford Explorer Limited 4×2 — a well-equipped sport-utility vehicle with a sticker price of $35,775.

We felt it was time to revisit the Explorer, a best-seller for a decade that suffered major image problems last year because of tire-related safety issues. It was extensively redesigned for the 2002 model year.

She: My first memory of this stretch of the PCH was watching a tow-truck driver drag a huge winch and a thick cable toward a cliff. Down below, a sedan had skidded off the road and was dangling over the Pacific. In other words, this is not a roadway for the faint of heart. And our experience in the Explorer was reassuring. It is still a fine performer. Our test vehicle hugged the curves and, besides huffing and puffing like a truck, handled every challenge beautifully.

He: It doesn’t take long to feel the changes that Ford made to the ’02 Explorer, notably the adaptation of an independent rear suspension. Ride control is improved, and so is ride comfort. I wouldn’t say the Explorer now rides and handles like a car, but it’s one of the best-behaved trucks we have driven in a while.

She: You can tell how good the Explorer is by how little we fought on the trip. It was like a second honeymoon — with both you and the Explorer.

He: Oh, boy. A romantic test drive. In a truck, no less.

She: It still doesn’t look very fancy on the outside, despite getting all-new sheetmetal because Ford was very conservative with the redesign. But the Explorer Limited we had was quite ritzy on the inside. It had six-way power leather bucket seats, a decent audio system with a six-disc CD changer and dual front/rear air conditioning. I was also impressed by just how much we crammed into it. We were out in California for a week on both business and pleasure, and wound up toting lots of luggage and gear.

He: And shopping bags. Good thing that third seat folds flat. We had no problem stowing all the weird items you felt compelled to purchase. Did I actually spot a lavender-scented candle in a bag?

She: Yes, it was a romantic drive.

He: Guess we’d better talk about horsepower then. The optional 4.6-liter V-8 in the Limited makes 240 horsepower, which felt more than adequate for tackling some of the steep hills and mountains we encountered in northern California. But that’s 30 horsepower less than you get with the standard 4.2-liter six-cylinder in the Chevrolet TrailBlazer. Also, our mileage was nothing to brag about, which is amazing considering our test vehicle didn’t have four-wheel drive. The EPA says you sh ould get 19 miles per gallon on the highway. We averaged closer to 16.

She: Always in the back of our mind on this drive were the safety issues. We never had a problem, even on those curvy roads through the redwood forests. Features on the new Explorer make it much safer. They include a tire-pressure monitoring system and optional side air curtains to protect you in a rollover accident. And our test vehicle had Goodyear tires, in case you were wondering.

He: I was concerned that the rear-wheel-drive Explorer does not come with traction control, which could be a real problem on icy roads. Having said that, we drove on some pretty wet pavement in the forest, and never had a traction issue.

She: We did have an issue with the price. The base price of the Explorer Limited is just over $32,000, and that’s with a V-6 engine and no four-wheel drive. That’s really expensive for what I consider America’s meat-and-potatoes SUV.

He: If you’re shopping in this category, I think you still need to take a close look at the TrailBlazer, especially the new long-wheelbase EXT. And if you still have your heart set on an Explorer, I’m not convinced the top-of-the-line is worth the extra money — not with the new Lincoln Aviator coming out later this summer for just a few grand more.

2002 Ford Explorer Limited

Anita’s rating: (Above average)

Paul’s rating: (Above average)

Likes: Powerful V-8 engine. Improved ride comfort and control. Strong safety features, including optional side curtains. Third-row seat for up to seven passengers. Lots of amenities, including leather seats, dual climate controls and six-disc CD changer.

Dislikes: Mediocre fuel economy, especially on a 4×2 vehicle. Pricey at $35,000-plus. 4×2 model lacks traction control. Chevy TrailBlazer’s six-cylinder engine is more powerful than Explorer’s V-8.

Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, seven-passenger utility vehicle.

Price: Base, $32,090; as tested, $35,775 (inc. $600 destination charge).

Engine: 4.6-liter V-8; 240-hp; 280 lb-ft torque.

EPA fuel economy: 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway.

12-month insurance cost, estimated by AAA Michigan: $1,228 (Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.)

Where built: St. Louis

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.1
  • Interior design 4.0
  • Performance 3.9
  • Value for the money 3.9
  • Exterior styling 4.1
  • Reliability 3.7

Most recent consumer reviews


Absolute worse car I ever bought

Absolute worse car I ever bought and with only 120k the timing chain started to go south and siezed the engine. Costly repairs to replace chains and drop engine, truck is a design flaw nightmare. Stay away from this year model. That's why they call it the Ford Exploder. Would not recommend this truck to my worst enemy.


Shaging wagon

Great car I fold back set down and fit bed in back great to shag the misses and sister. I love mine bc it has tinted windows so I can fit heaps of little kids in the back the Sell them on the dark web.


Ford 2002 Explorer XLT & my life with it

Bought a 2002 Explorer 4.0 L this vehicle has gotten me to 84,000 miles but, 2 transmission’s don’t know how this is possible but the 2nd transmission problem was the lower casing just cracked, how does that happen. I’ve kept up with maintenance and the biggest problems I’ve had besides the transmission’s the valve cover gasket’s need to be replaced. The biggest problem besides the tranny’s was the finish. Within the 2nd year I noticed the paint peeling off the hood, I have basically have done highway driving but if you drive it locally the 02 sensors fail. Have replaced 2 wheel bearing’s and of course the len’s on headlights need to be replaced. Reading some of the reviews I guess I’ve been fairly lucky. My other problems have been the rear heat control’s are junk, had it repaired once while still under warranty. But they failed pretty much again when it was out of warranty. I’m sure in the future the timing chain will fail, who puts plastic guards on a steel timing chain. I’ve noticed rust spots are starting to show. When I 1st got the car I assumed there was a dipstick for the transmission but, not with Ford, why let people check the transmission fluid, how cheap can you get. I use to drive it from Long Island to South Carolina but I don’t know if I would trust it. One problem also that I keep having is door a jar light and buzzer keep going off, even tried powering lots of WD-40 into the door lock mechanism because I know it’s a bad switch but I’m not going to take the whole door apart to replace the switch. One of the main reasons I’m going to keep it is because it’s great in snow. So I’m going to keep it until the engine goes because I’m the original owner and I know what kind of driving I’ve done. But my wife’s 06 Honda Odyssey the transmission is shot but when we get a new vehicle for her it won’t be new it’s depressing how quickly cars & trucks depreciate, so when her tranny does go ( it’s got 195,000 miles on it) I will never buy a American made car again, and I’ll look for a vehicle that’s had people reviews and is 2 years old that’s factory pre-certified. With today’s car’s there’s to many sensors and to many problems with the computer.

See all 115 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Ford Blue Advantage Blue
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Fords and many non-Ford vehicles up to 10 years old with less than 150,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
90-Day/4,000-Mile (whichever comes first) Comprehensive Limited Warranty
Dealer certification required
139-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

See all 2002 Ford Explorer articles