FORD EXPLORER EDDIE BAUER 4WD (2000)
By Tom Hagin
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 33,705 Price As Tested $ 36,540 Engine Type SOHC 12-valve 4.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 245 cid/4015 cc Horsepower 205 @ 5250 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 240 @ 3250 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 111.6"/70.2"/190.7" Transmission Five-speed automatic Curb Weight 4142 pounds Fuel Capacity 21.0 gallons Tires (F/R) P255/70R16 all-terrain Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 75 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 16/20/18 0-60 MPH 9.0 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1025 pounds Maximum towing capacity 5800 pounds * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
Ford has been cleaning up in the light truck segment of the auto industry. Its F-series pickup is the overall sales leader, car or truck. Ford's Taurus sedan is the corporate king of fleet and rental sales, and its Explorer continues the trend. It's the best-selling compact SUV in the country, selling a staggering 431,488 units in 1998. It comes in XLS, XLT, top-line Limited or as our test vehicle, the Eddie Bauer.
OUTSIDE - Explorer's shape has slowly evolved from its original boxy look of the early '90s. An improvement in the front suspension in the mid-90s allowed a lowering of the hood and a larger engine bay. The exterior was updated for 1998, so the 2000 model soldiers on with minimal changes. A new lift gate arrived in 1998, which made opening and closing the rear hatch easier. At the same time, larger rear glass and a wet-arm type rear wiper improved visibility. Other changes included new tail lights, front valance panel, rear bumper and door handles. We found the keyless remote-operated "puddle" lamps to be handy for lighting the ground next to the vehicle. New this year is a Reverse Sensing System that includes sensors mounted in the rear bumper to gauge the distance to objects behind the vehicle. Eddie Bauer models come standard with fender flares painted a different color than the body, while 16-inch alloy wheels mated to all-terrain tires are standard as well.
INSIDE - To keep it from being too utilitarian, Explorer's dashboard
uses smooth contours and artful curves, along with a host of creature
comforts. Our test Explorer came with five-passenger seating, though
three adults in back is a squeeze. Eddie Bauer models come with sport
bucket front seats that are supportive and comfortable. Six-way power
adjustments for them assure comfortable positions. The leather-wrapped
steering wheel has built-in audio and climate controls, while large,
easy-to-read gauges dominate the instrument panel. The center console
houses small buttons for various controls, along with a sizable storage
area and cupholders. Other standard features include cruise control,
power windows, door locks and mirrors, intermittent wipers, climate
control, overhead console and an AM/FM/Cassette/CD stereo system.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - Explorer is one of those SUVs that doesn't feel like a truck. It has a relatively low center of gravity, which keeps it flat in the corners. Consequently, it doesn't have much ground clearance, so its off-road capabilities are limited to light-duty four- wheeling. It uses a ladder-type frame with an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle, and, if properly equipped, can tow up to 5800 pounds. Our tester came with optional load-leveling rear springs, which helps keep it on a level plane when weight is added in back. In addition, our test model was a 4X4, so it came with Ford's excellent Control-Trac four-wheel drive system that engages with the twist of a dashboard knob. It has a low range for extra pulling power. Power rack-and-pinion steering is standard, as are four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).
SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, ABS and side-impact door beams are standard; side-impact airbags are optional.
OPTIONS - Side airbags: $395; power moonroof: $800; trailer tow package: $355; load leveling: $350; reverse sensing: $255; underbody skid plates: $125; CD changer: $395; destination: $525.