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2002 Ford Explorer

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$136 — $7,004 USED
17
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Sport Utility
5-7 Seats
18-19 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
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2002 Ford Explorer Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
Due in part to the Firestone tire debacle in 2000 and after several delays, Ford’s redesigned Explorer went on sale in February 2001 as a 2002 model. A corporate twin to the Mercury Mountaineer, the newest Explorer takes up where its popular predecessor left off, with some significant improvements and a fresh look as part of what Ford calls a “ground-up” redesign.

Responding to complaints about ride quality in Ford’s hot-selling sport utility vehicle, engineers devised a new and innovative independent rear suspension described as a “porthole-in-frame” design. Instead of having half-shafts on each side of the rear differential and over or under the vehicle’s frame, the shafts in the new Explorer poke right through holes that are built into the frame. In addition to smoothing the ride, this configuration allows a lower step-in height in the new version. In fact, the floor pan has been dropped by 7 inches. As a bonus, additional space is made available for the installation of an optional third-row seat, which allows seven-passenger capacity.

Track width has been increased by 2.5 inches, which should help to improve stability. Interior space is greater than in previous Explorers. Bumpers have been lowered by 2 inches to make the Explorer roughly compatible with a midsize sedan in the event of a minor collision. Side curtain-type airbags are standard and can be augmented by a new Safety Canopy that becomes available in fall 2001, which the automaker claims is an in...

Vehicle Overview
Due in part to the Firestone tire debacle in 2000 and after several delays, Ford’s redesigned Explorer went on sale in February 2001 as a 2002 model. A corporate twin to the Mercury Mountaineer, the newest Explorer takes up where its popular predecessor left off, with some significant improvements and a fresh look as part of what Ford calls a “ground-up” redesign.

Responding to complaints about ride quality in Ford’s hot-selling sport utility vehicle, engineers devised a new and innovative independent rear suspension described as a “porthole-in-frame” design. Instead of having half-shafts on each side of the rear differential and over or under the vehicle’s frame, the shafts in the new Explorer poke right through holes that are built into the frame. In addition to smoothing the ride, this configuration allows a lower step-in height in the new version. In fact, the floor pan has been dropped by 7 inches. As a bonus, additional space is made available for the installation of an optional third-row seat, which allows seven-passenger capacity.

Track width has been increased by 2.5 inches, which should help to improve stability. Interior space is greater than in previous Explorers. Bumpers have been lowered by 2 inches to make the Explorer roughly compatible with a midsize sedan in the event of a minor collision. Side curtain-type airbags are standard and can be augmented by a new Safety Canopy that becomes available in fall 2001, which the automaker claims is an industry first. Explorers can be equipped with a Reverse Sensing System that detects obstacles while backing up, and an optional AdvanceTrac electronic stability system will be available later.

As in previous years, four-door Explorers come with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Four trim levels are offered: XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited. More than 445,000 Explorers were sold during 2000.

Exterior
Even though dimensions haven’t changed much, the new Explorer looks bigger than its predecessor. Some styling touches, including the brawny new front end, are supposed to hark back to the original Explorer, which debuted as a 1991 model. Door openings are bigger than before, which makes entry and exit easier when coupled with the reduced step-in height. The front wheels sit 2 inches farther forward than on prior Explorers with a shorter front overhang.

At 113.7 inches, the Explorer’s wheelbase has grown by 2 inches, and ground clearance is an inch taller. The Explorer measures 189.5 inches long overall — 2 inches shorter than Chevrolet’s new midsize TrailBlazer — and stands 71.9 inches high to the top of its roof rack. Tire styles vary among the four trim levels, but all tires are 16 inches in diameter.

Interior
Seating for five occupants is standard, but a third-row seat that allows for seven-passenger capacity can be installed as an option. Standard XLS equipment includes a SecuriLock passive anti-theft system, rear wiper/washer with defroster, remote keyless entry, roof rails, cruise control, illuminated entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. In addition to an automatic transmission, the XLT gets a CD player, cargo shade, overhead console, aluminum wheels, lighted vanity mirrors and an outside temperature/compass display.

The Eddie Bauer and Limited models include dual-zone automatic temperature control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, an in-dash six-CD changer, heated leather bucket seats, fog lamps and heated mirrors. Adjustable pedals are standard in the Eddie Bauer and Limited editions and optional in the XLS and XLT. Options include the third-row seat, a power moonroof and running boards.

Under the Hood
Either a V-6 or V-8 engine can be installed. The 4.0-liter V-6 develops 210 horsepower, while the optional 4.6-liter all-aluminum V-8 produces 240 hp — 25 hp more than the V-8 in the prior generation. A five-speed-manual transmission is standard, while a five-speed automatic is optional. ControlTrac four-wheel drive also is available.

Safety
Antilock brakes are standard, and side curtain-type airbags that protect the front- and second-row occupants are optional in all models. A new Safety Canopy system will be available later in the 2001 model year and adds rollover sensors to detect vehicle speed and roll rate. After it’s been “fired,” the Safety Canopy remains inflated for up to 6 seconds. The new AdvanceTrac system, which also will be available at a later date, combines traction control with electronic stability control. Reverse Sensing also is offered as an option.

Driving Impressions
Ford engineers attempted to improve the ride, and they succeeded. Unlike the 2001 Explorer, which was quite “trucky” in nature, its 2002 replacement comes across as more refined and carlike, yielding a pleasant, somewhat gentler ride. Although the suspension does not qualify as cushiony, it produces a ride experience that’s suitable for a modern, if still truck-based, SUV.

Performance is clearly adequate with V-6 power, but the Explorer falls short of vigorous. Acceleration isn’t quite overpowering with the V-8 either, but it’s decidedly stronger. Shifts from the automatic transmission are noticeable, but it’s not particularly bothersome. A moderate drone during acceleration reveals the vehicle’s truck origin.

The 2002 Explorer is easy to drive, and it maneuvers adeptly and handles capably enough. Though stable in tight curves, it might not be quite as confident at higher speeds as some drivers might prefer, but it meets SUV expectations throughout. Interior space is abundant in both the front and rear, though the moonroof cuts a bit into the driver’s headroom. The reduced step-in height makes a noticeable difference in ease of entry.

Highly appealing overall, and likely to continue its popularity in the SUV category, the latest Explorer faces a lot of competition from GM and others. Offering a third-row seat and safety innovations should help, and the new independent rear suspension makes a noticeable difference. Because the new Explorer doesn’t stand markedly above its competitors in other respects, volume sales may not be as easy to capture as in the past.

 

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2002 Buying Guide

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

3.8
108 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.0)
Performance
(3.9)
Interior Design
(3.9)
Comfort
(4.1)
Reliability
(3.6)
Value For The Money
(3.8)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Good siv

by Ju-jitsu Shotokan Karate from New Castle on November 24, 2019

Great SUV. Good on the snow.Good kids Third row. Still starting every time Fantastic doors. Good exhaust. Great heat. The back windows are tinted from the factory. Which is great during the day. At ... Read full review

(4.0)

Such a great deal

by Red from Bountiful, UT on September 11, 2019

This vehicle is so good in the snow, never been stuck. I love the height, it makes it easy to get in and out and it has great visibility. It has the power to tow boats and trailers. The Grandkids will... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2002 Ford Explorer currently has 10 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2002 Ford Explorer has not been tested.

Latest 2002 Explorer Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Explorer received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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