BLAST FROM THE PAST The 1991 Ford Explorer

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The Ford Explorer is certainly a wonderful machine. Stunningly, very few people realize how revolutionary the creation of the Explorer was, and even how much more surprising it was that the SUV managed to actually break into the market and compete with well-established rivals.

The Explorer itself was actually a new incarnation of the Ford Bronco II, but it took a very different turn.

Today we’re going to dive right in and take a look at this impressive and game-changing vehicle that first took to the streets in 1991, when the market for small sports utility vehicles was dominated by the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wagoneer, and Japanese models.

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Of course, the Explorer wasn’t just a replica of the Bronco II. It was larger, had a bigger wheelbase, and even had an entirely different engine under the hood (a 4.0L V6).

Some of the most praiseworthy aspects of the Explorer surrounded its surprisingly roomy and comfortable interior and vast amount of storage space. It also was equipped with many high-end features of the time, such as electronic seat adjustment.

This SUV was actually made in the same factory as the Ford Ranger, so don’t be surprised if the interior looks very much the same. We’ll say that’s a plus, however, since the Ranger was also an excellent ride!

The Explorer came in both four-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive, since Ford was aware that only about one in ten people would actually take the rig off-road.

Even so, with the push of a button one could simply shift straight into four-wheel-drive and be on their way! With 220 lb./ft. of torque and 155 horsepower, MotorWeek found that this Ford could from 0-60 miles per hour in 9.9 seconds, and could complete the quarter mile in 17.2 seconds at 77 miles per hour.

Though those may not seem like impressive statistics now, those were very good back in ’91 and outdid all of the Explorer’s competitors!

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The 1991 Explorer was originally offered with a five speed manual transmission, or with the optional four speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The rig — both the 4X4 and 2WD versions — were rated for a towing capacity of 3500 pounds, or 6000 pounds with a frame-mounted hitch.

Ford seemed to hit the mark with the Ford Explorer, coming out with a ride that had a perfect “car-truck balance,” lots of power, plenty of space, and many convenience options. No wonder we still see these rigs on the road even today!

Check out MotorWeek‘s “Retro Review” of the 1991 Explorer below and enjoy the blast from the past!

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