The Ford Explorer revolutionized the way that the general public saw sport utility vehicles when it was first produced in 1990. As families started using the Explorer as their primary vehicles for moving around town, they realized that the Explorer provided the hauling capacity of station wagons with a look that was considered much more stylish. Now in its third decade of production, the Ford Explorer continues to be one of the most popular vehicles on the road. At the same time, Ford has taken steps to make it a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
The Explorer has seen a significant amount of evolution over its time on the production line, with the fifth generation entering production in 2011. This new model features a 3.5L, V6 engine capable of cranking out 290 horsepower. An engine designed to be less powerful and more fuel-efficient is also available, providing 236 horsepower. Front-wheel or four-wheel drive are standard options.
The first generation of the Ford Explorer was essentially an SUV version of the Ranger pickup truck, which in turn was modeled on its predecessor, the Bronco II. In 1995, Ford released the second generation of Explorers, which featured more powerful engines and independent front suspension systems. By the third generation in 2002, the Explorer retained almost no similarity to the Ranger on which it was first designed. In 2006, Ford released a mid-sized SUV called the Freestyle, so subsequent Explorers were built on larger frames to avoid self-competition.
Ford has offered a number of different Explorer trim options. In the very beginning, four trim models were available, including a limited-edition Eddie Bauer option. The automaker introduced a fifth option, called Limited, in 1993, that included many upscale features, like automatic headlights and a self-dimming rear view mirror. Media options such as multi-CD players have been a part of the Explorer package for some time. Ford offered a Sport trim for the shorter, 2-door body style during its production run.
The 2011 Ford Explorer won the title of North American Truck of the Year. Previous models have achieved similar recognition. The Explorer is not without controversy, however, as some problems with vehicle roll-over as a result of tire blowouts were reported. Some trailer rental facilities, such as U-Haul, prohibit Explorers from towing their trailers because of liability concerns.
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