By: Kristi Bannen
The 2002 Ford Explorer we tested was stylish, sturdy and powerful.† I especially liked the outside design and felt secure and safe driving this SUV.† And, its 4.6 liter, V8 engine (five-speed automatic transmission) was noticeably powerful yet smooth.
Even the view from within this Ford Explorer XLT was clear from all vantage points with no significant blind spots.† It can comfortably carry seven passengers or even eight if you squeeze that last person in the third row seat with two others.†† I wouldnít recommend it though since I found it hard enough to get in and out of the third row seats without being REALLY flexible not to mention you better not be claustrophobic!†
Also make sure you order the optional running boards feature since this made it a lot easier getting in and out of the Explorer.† Itís also a nice feature for your passengers who donít want to take a big jump in or an awkward leap out as with some SUVs that donít come with running boards.
The layout of the interior instruments and controls was a bit traditional and old fashioned.†† It doesnít appear that Ford has changed the styling much from past years.† I would have liked to see a more refined interior and more gadgets for a $34,000 plus vehicle -not a lot of features for the dough.† The Explorer we test drove had cloth seats.They should be leather for the price tag on this SUV.
The V8 engine was an option that cost almost $700. However, it does make a difference on how well the Ford Explorer XLT drives and performs.† The only downfallÖthe amount of gas it guzzled.
The estimated fuel economy is only 14 miles per gallon with city driving and 19 miles per gallon on the highway.††† I could see how it would be easy to run out of gas in this SUV if you didnít pay attention to the low fuel warning lights since you wouldnít expect to have to fill it so often!
For an SUV, the 2002 Explorer was easy to maneuver on turns and the four-wheel disc brakes with ABS worked well and very precise even with quick stops.
Some of the Ford Explorerís nicest convenience features included: speed sensitive intermittent wipers; a rear lift gate with flip up glass; a full-size spare; outside temperature and compass display.† I also liked how the audio controls for the radio would increase or decrease automatically to adjust the sound.†
I was also a fan of the reverse sensing system, which was a $255 option that served as a parking aid.† If the Explorer starts to get close to an object, even a person, a beeping noise alerts the driver and speeds up the closer you get to the object.† This is especially helpful if a child, for instance, was behind the vehicle and you couldnít see him/her.†
Our test Explorer also was equipped with the optional side curtain air bags that I think should be standard equipment in all SUVs.† The airbags protect along the sides of the vehicle from major side impacts.†† Expect to pay about $400 to add the trailer tow package if thatís an important feature to you too.†
The Explorer XLT has substantial storage capabilities with one downfall.† When the third row seating is folded forward to expand the rear storage cargo area, the seat backs donít fully lay flat.† That can be aggravating if itís important that the area be perfectly level for what youíre transporting.† Otherwise, I liked the center storage compartment/armrest between the driver and front passenger.† It was large enough, and deep enough, for me to conceal my purse or other items you donít want to leave visible in the car.† The door compartments offered additional and useful storage space too.†††††††††††
Overall, out of a four tire rating, with four being the very best, I give the 2002 Ford Explorer a two tires plus a spare tire for a slightly above average rating.† While I enjoyed the performance, specifically the power and precision the Ford Explorer provided, thereís a negative trade off on the higher gas expense and I think the standard features donít quite measure up to a $34,000 plus investment.†
Kristiís Fun Fact:
Ford Motor Company is the only automobile manufacturer in the U.S. that has created an alliance with a comprehensive driver training and education company.† In late 2000, Ford acquired an equity stake in Top Driver, Inc. to help teach drivers safe driving techniques.†
We'd like to know what you think?
Send Kristi an E-mail by clicking on the mailbox!
All of our past reviews are archived on this site. Click here to read them!