Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer
2020 Ford Explorer au SIAM 2019.jpg
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Model years1991–present
Body and chassis
ClassMid-size SUV (1990–2010)
Full-size crossover SUV[1][2] (2010–present)
PredecessorFord Bronco II

The Ford Explorer is a range of SUVs manufactured by Ford Motor Company. Introduced in 1990 for the 1991 model year, the Explorer was the first four-door SUV produced by Ford, replacing the two-door Bronco II. Six generations of the Explorer have been produced.The sixth generation was unveiled in January 2019. As with the Ranger, the Explorer derives its name from a trim package used on the F-Series, used from 1967 to 1986. Originally slotted below the full-size Bronco in the Ford truck line, the current Explorer is slotted between the Escape/Kuga, Edge and standard-wheelbase Expedition.

For its first two generations, the Explorer was produced in both two-door (as the Explorer Sport) and four-door configurations. Upon the introduction of the third generation, the Explorer was produced exclusively as a four-door SUV; the Explorer Sport was discontinued in 2003. The Sport name was resurrected in 2012, but as a performance version of the standard four-door Explorer. The Explorer has been offered with a number of powertrain layouts during its production. The first four generations offered rear-wheel drive as standard, with part-time four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options; the fifth generation offered front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, while the sixth generation reverted to rear-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive.

During its production, numerous variants of the Explorer have been marketed, with Lincoln-Mercury selling the four-door Explorer as the Mercury Mountaineer (1996–2010) and the Lincoln Aviator (2002–2005; 2019–); Mazda sold the Explorer Sport as the Mazda Navajo (1990–1994). The Explorer Sport Trac is a mid-size pickup truck derived from the four-door Explorer; two generations were produced from 1999[3] to 2010. For police use, Ford developed the Ford Police Interceptor Utility from the fifth-generation Explorer (replacing the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor); a specially modified Special Service Vehicle version is also available from Ford Fleet for law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and EMS agencies.

First generation (1991–1994)

First generation (UN46)
'91-'94 Ford Explorer.jpg
First-generation Ford Explorer
ProductionFebruary 1990 – November 1994[4][5]
Model years1991–1994
AssemblyLouisville, Kentucky, United States (Louisville Assembly Plant)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States (St. Louis Assembly)
Valencia, Venezuela (Valencia Assembly)
Body and chassis
Body style3-door SUV
5-door SUV
LayoutFront engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
RelatedMazda Navajo
Ford Ranger
Ford Bronco II
Engine4.0 L OHV Cologne V6
Transmission5-speed M5OD-R1 manual
4-speed A4LD automatic
Wheelbase3-Door: 102.1 in (2593 mm)
5-Door: 111.9 in (2842 mm)
Length3-Door: 174.5 in (4419 mm)
5-Door: 184.3 in (4673 mm)
Width70.2 in (1778 mm)
Height3-Door: 67.5 in (1714 mm)
5-Door: 67.3 in (1709 mm)
Eddie Bauer 4-Door 4WD: 68.3 in (1735 mm)
1994 Ford Explorer Sport rear
1992 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer

The Ford Explorer was introduced in March 1990 for the 1991 model year. To better compete against the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer and Jeep Cherokee mid-size sport-utility vehicles, Ford sought to replace the Ford Bronco II with a vehicle sized closer to its competitors. In an effort to attract family buyers, a four-door version was developed alongside the two-door (launched the same month as the four-door S-10 Blazer).

As with the Ford Bronco II, the first-generation Ford Explorer shares its chassis and underpinnings with the first-generation (1983-1992) Ford Ranger. In comparison to the Bronco II, the Explorer is far larger, with the two-door Explorer Sport gaining 12.6 inches in length and 2.1 inches of width; a four-door is 22.5 inches longer and 730 lb (331 kg) heavier.

As with its predecessor, the Ford Explorer has a large degree of commonality with the Ford Ranger, sharing its front bumper, fenders (modified), headlights, grille, and wheels; with the exception of its steering wheel hub, the Explorer shares its entire dashboard with the 1989-1992 Ford Ranger. In a major change from the Bronco II, the Explorer was given its own front door stampings. In addition for creating a four-door layout, the lack of commonality with the Ranger allowed for two major aerodynamic improvements; along with the elimination of exterior drip rails (by wrapping the doors into the roof), the sideview mirrors were integrated onto the doors (rather than bolted on).


Sharing its engine with the Ranger and four-wheel drive Ford Aerostar, the Explorer was fitted with a German-produced 155 hp (116 kW) 4.0 L Cologne V6 as the sole engine offering, replacing the previous 2.9 L V6. A Mazda M5OD 5-speed manual was the standard transmission offering, with the option of the Ford 4-speed A4LD overdrive automatic transmission. For 1993, the engine output was increased to 160 hp (119 kW).

Along with the standard rear-wheel drive powertrain, at its launch, the Explorer was also offered with various configurations of part-time four-wheel drive, powered by a Borg Warner 13–54 transfer case. In addition to a manually shifted transfer case, Ford offered "Touch Drive" electronic push-button shifting; both were "shift-on-the-fly" designs that allowed the vehicle to be shifted from two-wheel drive to "four-high" at any speed and into "four-low" when the vehicle was stopped. All Explorers were equipped with the Ford 8.8 axle in either a limited slip differential, or open version with a variety of available gear ratios. Four-wheel-drive front axles were the TTB ("Twin Traction Beam") Dana 35 with some Dana 44-spec components.


At its launch, the Ford Explorer followed the Aerostar, Bronco, Econoline, F-Series, and Ranger in model trim. The XL was sold as the base trim, with XLT as the upper range, with the outdoors-themed Eddie Bauer trim as the top trim. The XL was distinguished by a black grille (chrome optional) with steel wheels, while the XLT offered a chrome grille and alloy wheels; the Eddie Bauer offered alloy wheels and two-tone paintwork.

The Ford Explorer Sport was offered solely on the two-door body style. Offering black lower bodywork and grille and alloy wheels, the Sport was intended as a replacement for the Bronco II. From 1990 to 1994,[6] Mazda marketed the two-door Ford Explorer as the Mazda Navajo; the model was awarded the 1991 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award.

The Ford Explorer Limited was introduced for 1993 as a luxury-trim model slotted above the Eddie Bauer. Largely introduced as a competitor to the Oldsmobile Bravada, the Explorer Limited was offered only as a four-door with an automatic transmission. Distinguished by its color-matched grille, headlight trim, and model-specific bodywork and wheels, the Limited was offered with several model-specific features, including automatic headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, foglamps, and center roof console (with compass and outside thermometer).

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