Remember when the Explorer was king of the world, like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Titanic? In 2020, the Explorer is bound to do well, but there was a time when it really resonated with the buying public. There was no way the Explorer could have maintained 400k annual units sold per year, as automakers like Honda and Toyota eventually got their act together and released competent three-row crossovers. Still, the trendsetter’s fall from grace was quite quick and not without drama. And the third generation Explorer presided over that decline. But was it responsible for the mass defections, or just a victim of circumstance?
When the third generation Explorer debuted in 2001 for the 2002 model year, it represented a massive paradigm shift for the nameplate. It ditched the old Ranger underpinnings for its own dedicated platform. And it now boasted three rows of seating, a configuration that continues to present day. Contrary to previously held personal beliefs, the third generation was not significantly larger than its predecessor. It was actually one inch shorter. In any event, the Explorer now offered a standard independent rear suspension.
Despite the significant changes to the Explorer, Ford kept one thing going: the Eddie Bauer trim level. Given the proliferation of subbrands, perhaps it should return? They could make it just as luxurious as the old models. Since our featured Explorer is an Eddie Bauer, it has a whole bunch of higher tier amenities like a leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, digital climate controls, heated mirrors, heated seats, power adjustable petals, and the patented Arizona Beige painted side moldings. It seems like the Eddie Bauer enhanced interior of this Explorer has held up pretty well.
Here is the seller’s description:
2002 explorer, the Eddie Bauer edition, with 2tone leather heated seats sunroof and 3rd row seating. It has rear AC and heat also. Has brand new catylytic converter, brakes, tires, tie rod ends. Yes i have the receipts. It’s 6 cylinders 4 x 4 and does great in the snow. The four wheel drive works perfect in high or low. The brakes and tires are about 6 months old. Engine and transmission are excellent still, even though it has 191 k on it. Has been well-maintained. No service engine soon lights on at all. It is a very very quiet SUV. And it always passes New York state inspection.
I haven’t had any accidents with my SUV either..$2400
Overall, it seems like this Explorer is in decent shape. Ford’s 4.0 SOHC V6 is under the hood, and as far as I know, was decently reliable. My friend’s dad bought an XLT in 2004 clad in the same Toreador Red as our featured Explorer. That’s the color I associate with these models. I got to spend a decent amount of time behind the wheel on a trip up to Canada and was pleased with the V6’s 210 horsepower and 254 Ib-ft of torque. The five speed automatic also performed well. He later had transmission issues with his, but I distinctly remember him saying he kept the Explorer in four-wheel drive when towing his boat, so I think those problems were self-inflicted. Then again, transmission problems are apparently an issue with this generation. I’m fairly positive the 4.6 liter V8 Explorers were the ones with the most problems, but I could be wrong.
Overall, I think the fallout of the Firestone recall and the rise of three row crossovers like the Toyota Highlander contributed to the decline of the Explorer. That’s not necessarily the fault of the SUV itself, because on the merits these seemed like very capable vehicles. Anyway, with 191k miles, is it worth the $2400 asking price? If the seller’s claims are true, then I think this is a pretty good winter beater and a reasonable deal.
Source: Hudson Valley craigslist