The Ford Explorer has been completely redesigned for 2006. Highlights include V-6 or V-8 power, the latter with a new 6-speed automatic transmission, and an emphasis on fuel economy, lower emissions, and reductions in what engineers call NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness).
On sale since 1990, the Ford Explorer is widely credited as one of the models that kicked off the SUV craze in this country. While many SUV models have undergone major changes in their lifetime, the Explorer has mostly stayed true to form while adopting features most desired or demanded by SUV buyers, including V-8 power, seating for seven, high-tech all-wheel drive, and advanced safety hardware. The previous-generation Explorer was the first SUV to use an independent rear suspension rather than a solid rear axle, a setup that greatly improved handling and response, particularly in emergency situations. The 2006 Explorer retains this setup, along with its heavy-duty, body-on-frame construction.
Standard power comes from a 210-hp, 4.0L V-6 modified this year for lower emissions and smoother idle, and is connected to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The optional 292-hp, 4.6L V-8 boasts variable valve timing and a new 6-speed automatic. Both engines are available with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Payload capacities range from 1,450 pounds to 1,520 pounds, and trailer towing capacities range from 5,140 pounds to 7,300 pounds, depending on powertrain and equipment.
The Explorer is available in four trim levels (XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited) and offers a plethora of optional equipment including a new satellite-linked navigation system and a third-row seat that increases seating capacity to seven passengers. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, front-seat side air bags, and an electronic stability system that senses (and attempts to prevent) vehicle rollover are all standard; side curtain air bags for front- and second-row seats are optional.
The Ford Explorer is one of 20 models competing for attention in the Midsize Utility segment. High fuel prices helped this segment take market share away from its larger full-size brethren, but the smaller crossover utility segment promises to give it a run for the money. Still, the room and power capabilities of the Midsize Utility segment make it a good compromise between its compact and full-size counterparts.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM this segment was led in calendar year 2005 by the Jeep Grand Cherokee with sales of 213,584 units. Trailing the Grand Cherokee was the Ford Explorer with 203,483 sales, followed by the Chevrolet TrailBlazer (163,581) and Honda Pilot (143,353). Other models in this segment include the Dodge Durango, Toyota 4Runner, Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT, Nissan Pathfinder, and GMC Envoy and Envoy XL.
|XLS 4.0L (100A)||5 speed automatic||$26,530||210-hp / 4.0L 6-cyl||15/21|
|XLT 4.0L (120A)||5 speed automatic||$28,225||210-hp / 4.0L 6-cyl||15/21|
|Eddie Bauer 4.0L (140A)||5 speed automatic||$30,200||210-hp / 4.0L 6-cyl||15/21|
|Limited 4.0L (160A)||5 speed automatic||$32,515||210-hp / 4.0L 6-cyl||15/21|