• (4.6) 9 reviews
  • MSRP: $1,594–$6,762
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG: 17-19
  • Engine: 208-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 (flexible; E85)
  • Drivetrain: 4x2
  • Seats: 4
2003 Ford Explorer Sport

Our Take on the Latest Model 2003 Ford Explorer Sport

2003 Ford Explorer Sport Reviews

Posted on 10/23/02
Vehicle Overview
When Ford launched its new midsize four-door Explorer sport utility vehicle as an early 2002 model, the previous design didn’t disappear. Dubbed Explorer Sport, the two-door body style continues to attract buyers who don’t need the extra interior space offered by the larger four-door model.

The Explorer Sport qualifies as an in-between size, and it is positioned between Ford’s compact Escape and the larger Explorer. As one Ford dealer explained, Explorer Sports are especially popular with people who live in city row houses with short garages, where a four-door Explorer might not fit. Nearly half of all Explorer Sport buyers are women, according to Ford, which aims the vehicle at younger, typically single people with active lifestyles. Ford also markets the Explorer Sport Trac, which is based on the earlier-generation four-door Explorer but comes equipped with an open cargo bed.

The Explorer Sport comes with either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or electronically controlled four-wheel drive (4WD). Twisting a knob on 4WD models permits shift-on-the-fly operation.

XLS, XLT and XLT Premium editions are available for 2003. A freshened interior features revised low-back bucket seats and two-tone colors. Heated front seats and power lumbar support are now available. Coat hooks and a 12-volt power point have been added to the cargo area.

Ford promotes the Explorer Sport’s rugged, sporty styling, which features wide bodyside moldings, flared wheel arches, integrated bumpers and wraparound headlights. Black roof rails may be fitted with optional crossbars, and they are capable of carrying 100 pounds. Side step bars that ease access to the interior are available. The Explorer Sport is 180.4 inches long overall with a 101.8-inch wheelbase. It measures 70.2 inches wide and stands 68.4 inches tall.

The Explorer Sport’s passenger capacity is far smaller than that of the four-door Explorer. The two-door Sport fits only four occupants on cloth-upholstered bucket seats or captain’s chairs up front and a split, folding rear seat. Cargo volume is 71.1 cubic feet with the split rear seatbacks folded down for extra storage room. Leather upholstery is optional.

Under the Hood
The lone engine is a 203-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 with a single overhead camshaft. Either a five-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission can be installed. Explorer Sport models come with either RWD or ControlTrac II 4WD.

Antilock brakes are standard. Optional equipment includes side-impact airbags for the front seats and a Reverse Sensing System that alerts the driver of nearby objects to the rear while backing up.

Driving Impressions
The basic design and engineering fall short of modern, yet the Explorer Sport has a certain flair of its own. It’s a surprisingly friendly vehicle in an easy-handling size. Its acceleration is more than adequate, and the automatic transmission works efficiently. The Explorer Sport steers easily with mild effort, and it maneuvers neatly in smaller spaces. A bit of steering-wheel vibration was noted on urban pavements, but the two-door SUV runs quietly. The ride can get bouncy on city streets, but it’s about average for a vehicle of this type.

The Explorer Sport’s front-seat space is satisfying, but getting into the two-place backseat demands some agility. Behind-the-seat cargo space is abundant and augmented by a good-sized glove box. Visibility is good except for the view over the driver’s left shoulder. Full black-on-white gauges are easy to read. The radio buttons are a bit complex, but the controls are mounted high.

Despite its more compact dimensions compared to those on the regular Explorer, the driver still feels high up and in command. Convenient size is the Explorer Sport’s main attraction, but a four-passenger limitation and an aging design can’t help but restrain its popularity.


Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide

Consumer Reviews


Average based on 9 reviews

Write a Review

Mostly nice looking. Needs some things

by Peggy K from Fort Worth TX on November 13, 2017

a lot of car for the money, for someone who is mechanically inclined. A gold mine for someone who has time to part it out, or still some good usage for someone who is able to get repairs done.

Read All Consumer Reviews

8 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2003 Ford Explorer Sport trim comparison will help you decide.

Ford Explorer Sport Articles

2003 Ford Explorer Sport Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports


There is currently 1 recall for this car.

Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $5,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained


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.


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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

Other Years