SAN FRANCISCO: The new-for-2002 Ford Explorer has finally been launched to the general public,
and might we say, it is well worth the wait.
The company has pushed back the launch, from last
fall, of this first ground-up redesign since its inception 10 years ago, and pushed
it back again. Mostly because FoMoCo wanted to make sure the 02 Explorer was perfect
from the get-go.
This, from a Ford press release, explains their stance best:
In order to ensure extremely high quality, the rollout of the new Explorer included
extraordinary rigorous testing
Ford took a strategic approach to this important
launch in order to ensure quality and to sustain customer enthusiasm and anticipation for
the newest best-selling SUV.
The new vehicle is wider and the wheelbase has been extended
to give more room to passengers and cargo, though the overall length and height is
Interior room is greatly improved compared to previous
iterations of the four-door Explorer. This change is most noticeable in the width of the
footwells up front. In the old model, the space was never tight but there could have been
more room to move around. In the 02, theres plenty of room to sit any way you
choose, even cross-legged!
Another feature now offered on Explorer is a third-row seat,
made possible by the expanded interior volume and lower floor height than in previous
years. And, believe it or not, an adult can actually fit back there. Yours truly was
coerced by Ford Communications Manager Harold Allen to get in the third row seat and it
was actually bearable to a 5 10 adult with poor flexibility.
The newly redesigned rear hatch is a marvel at ease of use.
The load-in height is quite low, just above knee level, and it is very easy to open and
close. The glass portion, a full piece of glass with an appliqué of plastic trim, opens
lower than last years model and is also very easy to operate. The lower bumper
height is also an added safety feature, according to Doug Scott, Ford SUV marketing
"Safety and security were differentiating factors for
this redesign," Scott said at a Ford sponsored ride and drive recently. "We are
offering an optional side-curtain airbag in the new Explorer as well as bumpers that are
two inches lower for better car-friendliness."
Other safety features on the 02 Explorer include
AdvancTrac, a stability control system that will be introduced later in the model year;
the ControlSlip rear driveshaft that collapses rather than buckling; Fords Personal
Safety System, which includes dual-stage airbags for front passenger and driver and seat
belt pretensioners; standard four-wheel ABS; and the Safety Canopy, which is a rollover
protection system created by the side-curtain airbags and a bevy of sensors that measure
indicators like vehicle tilt and lean-angle changes.
The grill on the 02 Explorer definitely has a family
resemblance: Can you say mini-Expedition? There are new jeweled headlamps, following the
current trend, that look very nice in the daylight. We didnt get a chance to drive
the vehicle at night but, rest assured, Fords truck headlights are among the
brightest of any automakers.
Explorer owners get to choose between two distinct engines, a
4.0-liter SOHC V6 with 210 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, along with a 4.6-liter SOHC V8 with
240 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Both engines meet Low Emission Vehicle standards and can
operate on either gasoline or the gasoline/ethanol blend E85. A V6 powered Explorer 4X4
should see 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The V8 should see 14 and 19 mpg
city and highway, according to EPA ratings.
Both manual and automatic transmissions are now five-speeds
and both are all new for 02. Both feature revised gearing to better use the engines
flatter torque curves and higher horsepower. Towing for the Explorer is handled by a
standard Class II hitch thats capable of hauling 3500 pounds, depending on engine
and drivetrain. An upgraded towing package, which includes a limited-slip rear
differential, can handle up to 7300 pounds.
On the road, the new Explorer inspires confidence over bumps,
potholes, railroad tracks
almost anything that would have upset the old
versions live axle. Handling through corners is equally calming. The new independent
rear suspension keeps axle hop down to a minimum when that unseen undulation literally
pops up, threatening to spoil any good time the driver is trying to have.
The only real odd thing to driving the 02 Explorer, at
least with the test vehicle, was a GM-like brake pedal feel. It was mushy to a point, and
then there was decent feedback to what was happening on the road. The vehicle stopped
fine; there was just a touch of confidence lost in pedal performance.
Believe it or not, three out of the four Explorer models will
have a lower base price, comparing 01 to 02. The only model to actually go up
in price is the Eddie Bauer edition; it will be $65 more than the current model. The other
three models, XLS, XLT and Limited, will feature lower prices by $95, $230 and $190,
Base prices for the 02 Explorer (including $600.00 for
destination and delivery) begin at $24,620 for the XLS, $28,380 for the XLT, and $32,690
for the Eddie Bauer and Limited. The volume truck, an XLT 4X4 equipped with the standard
4.0-liter V-6 engine and optional electronic AM/FM stereo/clock/single CD player, will
carry a base price of $30, 475.
The Explorer will face some very tough competition
in the coming months, with the newly redesigned GM trio and a flurry of new SUV models,
but should remain king of the SUV mountain with new safety features, a totally new design
and more customer-friendly amenities. By
James E. Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Ford Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Column Name: Finally Launched and Well Worth the Wait
Topic: The New 2002 Ford Explorer
Word Count: 1030
Photo Caption: The New 2002 Ford Explorer
Photo Credits: Ford Internet Media
Series #: 2002 - 1
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Download the original image file here: 2002 Ford Explorer 84k