It"s our guess you could"ve heard a pin drop the day the Ford Explorer development team sat approximately some conference table deep within the darkest hallways that Dearborn. There was more than likely some man in a dark suit v a severe brow and also the weight of the world on his shoulders posing a weighty concern to the team assembled prior to him. "What must the next traveler be?" now the press is on. Below these folks have actually been tinkering and tweaking a chassis that"s been approximately for 4 presidential elections and also without lot effort regulating to offer over 400,000 systems a year--a feat no various other SUV manufacturer has actually been able to also come close to. And now it"s time to develop a new one. Actually, the redesign is lengthy overdue.

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The current Explorer has been showing its crow"s feet because that the past couple of years through its well-seasoned, yet torquey, 4.0L engine, mushy brakes, and also a journey that absolutely falls right into the "Needs Improvement" category. Climate there"s the competition come consider. The Lexus RX 300, the new Acura MDX, and also even Ford"s new, just slightly smaller, Escape are all year ahead the the explorer in regards to refinement.


Fortunately, it seems the team was up to the task. In fact, our sources tell united state they jumped in ~ the opportunity to do the next-generation traveler technically exceptional in just about every method beneath its fairly conservatively styled flanks.


From the outside, there"s considerable family same to the Explorer"s huge brother, the Expedition. Lines are crisp and fresh without going therefore far as to alienate present Explorer owners. The currently ubiquitous egg-crate grille doesn"t show up as pronounced, and also the front finish looks somewhat an ext sophisticated with its bigger headlamps and subtle personality lines running down the curved hood. The new Explorer seems to have more comprehensive door openings and a lower step-in elevation that take some the "truckish" emotion out of the sport/utility"s flavor. This will clearly make it an ext appealing come those opting the end of their full-size sedans and also maybe looking at an SUV for the an initial time. These "new-to-the-sport/ute-craze" buyers will prefer the Explorer"s roomy interior and cargo-hauling handiness.


Inside, the leather seats are wide and supportive and the dash maintains its easy functionality with large buttons that are identifiable with a quick glance. The best news, however, is the addition of a third-row seat. And also thanks to some nifty engineering, there in reality is room back there for folks who take place to be bigger than Lilliputians. Lengthy a Ford strength in every its pickups and SUVs, the brand-new Explorer interior provides an environment much much more civilized and appealing to those commerce in their family sedans because that an SUV.


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Another vital area whereby Ford engineers obviously have actually done their homework is in the rear suspension. Where many of the industry is moving toward an ext carlike unibody chassis, the new Explorer quiet rides on one as-God-intended truck-traditional steel-ladder frame bolted beneath a steel body. However a closer look downstairs reveals part startling discoveries. Most evident are the lacking leaf springs in ~ the rear and torsion bars up front. Instead, both end are individually sprung through a short- and also long-arm suspension setup with coil springs. More powerful suspension mounting points allow the use of softer bushings and springs. In addition, slipping the shocks inside the springs helps prevent binding. This must go a long means toward relaxing the Explorer"s fairly rough off-road ride and make that handle an ext responsively about paved corners.


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Of course, just like any far-reaching design adjust there are tradeoffs. We intend maximum towing and payload capacity numbers will certainly drop a little from previous models, but those number won"t be released for fairly some time.


A closer look at the rearend expose several creative solutions come the difficulty of setting an IRS top top a structure chassis. The axle halfshafts aren"t located listed below the frame"s longitudinal members, i m sorry is the way body-on-frame vehicles are typically constructed today. Instead, lock run directly through the frame, permitting Ford engineers to develop the traveler atop a straighter, much more structurally robust backbone and also providing an ext room for the new third-row seat (which is the nifty engineering we pointed out earlier).


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It"s one ingeniously simple answer that will certainly leave GM and also Dodge designers scratching their heads and also muttering, "Why didn"t we think that that?" of course, as always, the proof will certainly be in the product, and also how the elevation rear functions on the "02 Ford traveler still needs to be determined. Simply a note: Two-door Explorers and also Sport Trac models will retain the standard solid behind axle/leaf spring setup. Walk tooth and also gear with the brand-new chassis is an improved manage Trac four-wheel-drive system that guarantees to be far less intrusive than the present iteration. Torque split is figured out by a computer system that not just monitors axle speeds and also throttle position, but likewise will instantly sample wheelslip front-to-rear before spinning the tires. Thus, the system numbers out which end has the finest traction prior to getting itself into more trouble by thoughtlessly sending power to whereby it may not necessarily be needed. Low-range gearing continues to be the very same at 2.48:1.


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Moving every this nifty new technology on the luxury Eddie Bauer design is one equally brand-new all-aluminum 4.6L SOHC V-8 purloined indigenous the Mustang and also tinkered with appropriately to pump out 230 hp (15 an ext than the 302 V-8 in the current AWD Explorer and Mountaineer) and a stout 285 lb-ft of torque in ~ 4000 rpm which, incidentally, is 3 lb-ft of talk less and 700 rpm higher on the tach than today"s 5.0. Lower trim-level Explorers will offer a standard 4.0L/200-hp V-6 that"ll at some point make an illustration in the smaller, lighter Escape. One of two people engine will be mated to an improved five-speed automatic transmission.

See more: How Many Degenerate Orbitals Are Needed To Contain Six Electrons With Two Of Them Unpaired?


So over there you have actually it. The gauntlet has been thrown, and also now it"s approximately you to decide how well the Explorer development team has actually done. From our short look, the man in the dark suit with the serious brow and also the weight of the world on his shoulders have the right to take a couple of days turn off to relax.


4-DOOR traveler PERFORMANCE COMPARISON
 2001 EXPLORER 2002 EXPLORER
Engine type4.0L V-65.0L V-84.6L V-8
MaterialCast-iron block/headCast-iron block/headAll aluminum
ValvetrainSOHCOHVSOHC
Displacement, ci245302281
Compression ratio9.7:19.0:19.0:1
Bore x stroke, in3.95 x 3.324.0 x 3.03.60 x 3.60
Hp
4000
Suspension, frontSLA/torsion barsSLA/torsion barsSLA/coil-over shocks
Suspension, rearLive axle/leaf springsLive axle/leaf springsSLA/coil springs