2002 Ford Explorer Design


    “Explorer stands for uncomplicated function, durability and
    reliability. Translating that into an all-new design led us
    straight back to the original. Building on Explorer’s already solid
    foundation meant preserving its heritage while modifying it to
    better meet the needs of the consumer, a consumer that seeks
    adventure at work and at play. The all-new Explorer is unmistakably
    an Explorer from any perspective and shares a common design language
    with the rest of Ford’s SUV Outfitters lineup.”

            – J Mays, Ford
    Motor Company, Vice President of Design

    • Key exterior design elements include simple, rounded
      forms and sections, uncluttered body panels and a bold new grille
      featuring the familiar egg-crate insert of all Ford SUVs
    • High-quality, durable materials and finishes are used in
      all aspects of the exterior and interior design
    • Form follows function: Exterior door handles are more
      robust and easier to use. Available running boards are improved
      with a wide stepping area. Complex reflector headlamps provide
      better lighting. Body-side cladding serves as protection against
      stone chips
    • Explorer’s wider track gives the vehicle a confident,
      athletic stance, and the shorter front overhang makes the vehicle
      look more nimble, while improving its approach angle in rough or
      steep terrain
    • A fully integrated rear bumper with a wide shelf and a
      completely redesigned liftgate give the rear of the vehicle a
      cleaner, finished look
    • The refined, versatile, understated design theme is
      carried through to the interior – consistent forms, functional
      detailing and clear, strong graphics on all instrumentation and
    • The design is functional all around and serves the
      target consumers’ active lifestyles – solid, rugged and absolutely

    Explorer has been a trusted adventure companion for more than a
    decade. Its revolutionary original design set a new standard.

    The original, simple body style, functional interior and
    go-anywhere capability have evolved into a bolder, confident, more
    refined vehicle that is ready to take on any of life’s

    The new 2002 Explorer’s design focuses on functionality and
    versatility. Simple, straightforward exterior body panels are
    coupled with a wider overall stance – to give the vehicle a
    confident, athletic attitude. The interior is made up of flexible,
    accommodating spaces, emphasizing its multi-purpose, user-friendly

    Authentic Adventure

    The challenge in updating the design of the Ford Explorer came
    down to one critical question: How do you give the best-selling
    sport utility vehicle a new look without dramatically changing the
    trusted product that so many people rely on to carry them through
    their work day into their weekend adventures?

    The answer: Take everything that makes Explorer so popular today
    and make it even better.

    The task for the new Explorer’s design team: Keep the
    uncluttered, genuine design but pay closer attention to the details.
    Concentrate on functionality and versatility rather than creating a
    dramatic design statement.

    Remember the elements of the original Explorer that redefined the
    SUV segment and build on the solid foundation. In short, the goal
    was to create an understated, evolutionary design that is thoroughly
    modern and completely functional.

    “The approach that we would take to redesign the Explorer was clear
    from the beginning. It would be an evolution,” says Ed Golden,
    design director for Ford’s North American Trucks. “The goal was for
    the new design to be instantly recognized as an Explorer from any
    angle and at any distance. We also wanted it to be familiar yet
    modern and to deliver on its promise of functionality and

    Explorer shares its rounded forms, simple body panels and
    athletic attitude with the Explorer Sport and Explorer Sport Trac.
    However, that is where the similarities end.

    The four-door Explorer projects a more refined, polished
    appearance, in keeping with its more refined underpinnings. The
    most striking change to the exterior design is the bold grille
    featuring the egg-crate insert – a signature cue that links Ford’s
    entire SUV line-up.

    The look is unmistakably Explorer – yet wider, bolder and more
    confident, with a profile that leans slightly forward, suggesting an
    eagerness and confidence.

    High-quality, durable materials and finishes are used in all
    aspects of the design – from the smallest interior details to the
    headlamps, taillamps, wheels, moldings and door handles.

    “We spent a significant amount of time on the refinement and
    improvement of the overall quality and craftsmanship of the
    Explorer,” says Golden. “The way elements of the vehicle fit
    together and the materials feel to the touch take Explorer to a much
    higher level.”

    A person’s vehicle is an extension of who he or she is and how that
    person lives and plays. In order to develop the ideal product for
    the consumer, the Explorer design team reached beyond the
    traditional boundaries of automotive design and studied images of
    everyday items, such as tables, radios, wristwatches and dogs. Then
    they studied the reactions of consumers to these images.

    Two images stood out from the exercise. Several of the watches
    suggested refinement, while the image of a boxer dog was most often
    compared with the Explorer because of its “come try to knock me over
    and see what happens” attitude.

    The idea was to incorporate those qualities that suggested
    stability and capability – particularly on the Explorer’s exterior –
    while using images of refinement and quality to define the interior.

    The watches particularly influenced the instrument panel, for
    example. Precise lines and horizontal seams give the seats a
    premium, tailored look. Large tires and wheels suggest the boxer’s
    muscular shoulders.

    “While we looked at current design trends during the development
    of the new Explorer, the direction was to design a solid, modern
    vehicle that would not be affected by those trends,” says Golden.
    “We concentrated on giving Explorer a confident, athletic look that
    is not going to go out of style.”

    In many areas, form meets function. Explorer’s exterior door
    handles are not only easier to use, they’re rugged, big and strong.
    The available running boards are wide and substantial. The
    jewel-like complex reflector headlamps provide better lighting. The
    body-side cladding serves as protection against stone chips.

    A fully integrated rear bumper with a wide shelf along with a
    completely redesigned liftgate give the rear of the vehicle a
    cleaner, finished look.

    The addition of a bonafide towing receiver integrated into the
    frame meant the designers could forgo the ball mount formerly built
    into the step-type bumper. The side profile hints at a slight
    forward bias, even though the rear was raised only approximately 15

    In fact, the independent rear suspension was an important element
    of the design, even if you cannot see it. The design team felt
    inspired to make sure that the Explorer’s appearance was consistent
    with its higher level of performance. The look was designed to
    evoke confidence, just as the new suspension will.

    Explorer’s new independent rear suspension system helped drive
    the vehicle’s design in more direct ways, as well. The wider track
    makes Explorer look more stable – a desirable trait. The shorter
    front overhang makes the vehicle look more nimble, while improving
    its approach angle in rough or steep terrain.

    The rear liftgate was completely redesigned, with functionality
    in mind. The liftglass portion is larger, to make it easier to lift
    cargo into the vehicle. Yet, in a clever design technique, the
    glass doesn’t look overly large. On a level with the side “belt
    line,” the rear glass melds into a body-color panel that continues
    down to the license plate.

    The headlamps and taillamps both offer improved function – with
    brighter, wider illumination, and more lighted surface area from the
    brake lights.

    Inside, integration and refinement continue to be the guiding
    themes. Designers approached the driver’s seating area as a
    holistic environment, consisting of the seating, doors, instrument
    panel and console.

    No unnecessary extras clutter the cabin, which offers integrated
    storage spaces and more passenger room.

    “The extra storage space and passenger space is in spite of the
    fact we’ve added side curtain air bags, which take up room
    themselves” Golden says.

    The air bags are stowed in the roof liner and do not take up any
    interior space.

    Adding Sport and Sport Trac to the Explorer lineup has allowed
    Ford’s designers to craft vehicles tailored to well-defined needs.
    Each vehicle is tailored to a different market segment and, in
    particular, different customer lifestyles.

    “The Explorer name is stronger than ever, and our customers have
    very definite expectations,” Golden says. “With three vehicles in
    the Explorer lineup – the four-door Explorer, two-door Explorer
    Sport and highly versatile Explorer Sport Trac – we truly offer
    something for everyone.”