Ford Explorer celebrates 10th anniversary
DEARBORN, Mich., March 15, 2000 – Today marks an important milestone in automotive history – the 10th Anniversary of the Ford Explorer. Much like the Internet redefined communication in the 1990s, Explorer has redefined the SUV market – it introduced a whole new way of looking at personal transportation. Introduced on March 15, 1990 as a 1991 model, Explorer has been the best-selling sport utility vehicle (SUV) on the market and has been among the top-ten best-selling vehicles since its introduction.
Growth in the SUV market is considered the most significant of the decade. In fact, since 1991, annual sales of sport utility vehicles in the U.S. have grown from 900,000 to 3.2 million units in calendar year 1999. It is the only market segment that has experienced double-digit sales growth every year during this period.
As America’s best-selling sport utility vehicle for nine straight years, Ford Explorer has led, evolved and changed the face of the sport utility market. With more than 3.4 million sold since its introduction, there are more Ford Explorers on the road today than any other sport utility vehicle. Ford Explorer has been a runaway success since its debut and it also ranks very high in customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Explorer continues to lead the market through its evolution and broad expansion into products like the 2001 Explorer Sport Trac.
The introduction of the Explorer put “sport” into the name sport utility vehicle. While not the first SUV on the market, Ford’s introduction of Explorer did mark the transition of the utility vehicle from specialized functional truck to comfortable versatile family vehicle. Over the years Explorer has adapted to evolving customer needs. The 1991 Explorer and 1995 Explorer stand out as key models in Explorer’s history, as do several key features of the vehicle.
1991 was the first model-year to offer the two- and four-door Explorer. Ford’s first Explorer model was designed to include more interior space than any other vehicle in its class (at the time) with optional six-passenger seating. Standard features on the 1991 Explorer included a 4.0L V-6 engine with torque of 220 lbs.-ft @ 2400 rpm. The Eddie Bauer plush trim level on the four-door model and the touch driver transfer case for 4×4 was introduced. In 1990, 140,509 Explorer’s were sold. In calendar year 1991, 249,640 units were sold.
The 1995 Explorer was significantly redesigned. Improving the vehicle that dominated the SUV market was a challenge. Since its introduction Explorer had been a showroom sellout – without sales incentives. Not only was the vehicle already recognized as a leader in overall versatility, but it also topped all competition, foreign or domestic, by being the only major SUV to offer dual air bags, four-wheel disc brakes, rack and pinion steering and a four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS).
The 1995 Explorer was an expression of how Ford listened to its customers and responded directly to their needs. Major changes to the 1995 model included:
o All-new front-end sheet metal offering a more rounded aerodynamic look
o All-new Short and Long Arm (SLA) front suspension
o Control Trac four wheel drive system which added safety and stability to Explorer by automatically increasing torque to the front wheels upon rear wheel slippage
o Rear seat head restraints
A Crush Management System that incorporated accordion-like pleats in key areas of the frames and body structure designed to absorb energy in a controlled manner and better protect occupants in the event of frontal impact
o Interior comfort-vehicle amenities including a message center, 6-disc CD player and an integrated child safety seat
The 1995 Explorer was named by J.D. Power and Associates as the best “compact sport utility” vehicle in initial quality. The redesigned Explorer again maintained its best-selling SUV status with sales of 395,227 during the calendar year.
5.0L V-8 Engine
In 1996, an optional 5.0L V8 all-wheel drive system was added to Explorer. The introduction of the optional V8 engine in 1996 pleased buyers who were looking for more trailer-towing power to go along with the SUVs other capabilities. The optional new engine helped drive sales for the 1996 calendar year to 402,663 units.
4.0L SOHC V-6 Engine
A new 4.0L SOHC V-6 engine was offered on the 1997 Explorer with the XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited series. This engine was an option, as the 4.0-liter OHV V-6 was standard. For the sixth consecutive year, the accolades continued to pour in, and Explorer maintained it best-selling SUV status, by selling 383,852 units in calendar year 1997.
The Future of Explorer
It is only fitting that in the year of its 10th Anniversary, Ford Explorer is redefining the SUV market yet again, just like it did in 1990. Explorer expanded its nameplate further when, in January, Ford began production of the redesigned two-door 2001 Explorer Sport and the all-new 2001 Explorer Sport Trac.
The Ford Explorer Sport – sales leader among two-door sport utility vehicles – is even better for the 2001 model year with new sporty styling, features and functional improvements designed to inspire confidence in any driving situation. The 2001 Explorer Sport aims to strengthen its leadership position with significant changes to exterior sheet metal, a new interior, more front leg- room and improved ride and handling characteristics. Some of the major changes to Explorer Sport include:
o New interior trim and a distinctive white dial instrument cluster
Nearly 70 cubic feet of maximum cargo space
o Towing capacity of up to 5,180 pounds
o 4.0L SOHC V-6 engine produces 206 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 238 lbs.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm
o Command seating position for a better view and comes in 4×2 and optional 4×4 configurations
Larger, more durable and quieter four-wheel disc braking system, which achieves a shorter stopping distance
Four-wheel, three-channel anti-lock braking system is standard
Explorer Sport Trac
The 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is an all-new type of SUV, which recently went on sale and is the first SUV of its type on the road. It is based on today’s best-selling four-door Explorer, which builds on Ford’s tradition of tough trucks with innovations designed to connect with active outdoor sports enthusiasts, as well as families. Explorer Sport Trac combines the best interior features of Explorer with an open rear cargo area for more cargo-carrying versatility. At the same time, Sport Trac is designed to project an adventurous image with bold styling inside and out, and improved ride handling.
Ford Explorer Synopsis
The Ford Explorer is a versatile vehicle that is comfortable in the city or in the great outdoors. Its unique styling and many convenience options make it the perfect mode of transportation for those urban settings, while its powerful drivetrain and 4×4 engine helps make it ideal for even the most rugged terrain. Like all Ford vehicles, Explorer has been designed to protect its occupants and to provide years of dependable service to its owners.
The 2001 four-door Explorer will be introduced in the fall, no doubt rounding out a great line-up and destined to continue its history of leadership and innovation for many years to come.