First built in 1990, the popular and versatile sport-utility vehicle Ford Explorer replaced the smaller Ford Bronco II. Since then, Ford continues to beef up the Explorer with drive-enhancing systems and passenger-safety technologies matched with sleek design.
1991-1994: First generation
The first-generation Explorer, slotted between the Expedition and Escape, initially came in four trim levels: XL, XLT, Sport, and Eddie Bauer edition. In the 1993 model, the Explorer added its most upscale trims under the Limited edition, which donned matched body color on its grille and headlight trims compared with the chrome- or black-colored of the other four trim levels’. During its four-year period, the first-generation model upgraded its engine only once, which only added 5 horsepower to the standard 4.0-liter Cologne V6 engine’s 155 horsepower.
1995-2001: Second generation
Almost every year, the second-generation Explorer had new features added or parts redesigned. Ford’s ControlTrac automatic four-wheel drive system was first used by this generation Explorer. It was also the first to have dual airbags. Meanwhile, from a neon center-high-mount stop lamp in 1995, the newer second-generation model rolled out with the more conventional LED lamp in 1998. Parts that received restyling over seven years were the liftgate, seats, bumpers, fog lights, and the steering wheel to name a few.
2002-2005: Third generation
The third-generation Explorer received a total redesign, making it look like the Ford Expedition. In fact, this generation Explorer was greatly mistaken for an Expedition. But besides its makeover, the Explorer sported fully independent rear suspensions for more comfort, better handling, and stability. Ford also added their technologies such as the roll stability control and AdvanceTrac systems, but only making it standard in the 2005 model. Also, a third-row seat was introduced for the first time, making the passenger capacity total to seven.
2006-2010: Fourth generation
The Explorer and the Escape gave way for the Ford Freestyle to sit right in between. But the Explorer did most adjustments as it had to increase its size by using a new body frame. The bigger fourth-generation model had only few but significant additions. An improved navigation system with voice control and traffic-flow monitoring found its way into the Explorer’s dash while side-curtain airbags, power-folding third-row seats, and systems like the tire-pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control, and the trailer-sway control became standard. Another standard was Ford’s MyKey security system that allows speed and volume controls and seatbelt and fuel reminders.
2011-present: Fifth generation
The fifth-generation Explorer featured a floating-roof effect with the help of its unibody design. This generation model is also packed with hi-tech features for safe and comfort driving. Running on either the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine or the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged I4 engine that were both mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the latest Explorer is equipped with the a collision warning with brake support pre-crash system, hill descent and ascent controls, MyFord Touch, Ford SYNCH by Microsoft, and Sony audio system with HD radio and Apple iTunes tagging among others.