2003 Ford Explorer Sport Overview

     Product Information 


    New for 2003

    • Three vehicle arrays available: XLS (late availability), XLT and XLT Premium
    • Freshened interior includes revised low-back bucket seats, new door trim and two-tone interior colors
    • Heated front seats and power lumbar support for driver and front passenger are now available
    • Body color exterior door handles on XLT, XLT Premium
    • Two new coat hooks added in the cargo area
    • 12-volt power point in cargo area
    • New exterior color: Red Fire


    The Explorer Sport is a benchmark for two-door SUVs. The Explorer Sport has rugged, sporty exterior styling, a high level of standard equipment, many safety features and numerous refinements. For 2003, interior upgrades improve comfort and convenience, while a new trim series structure simplifies the ordering process.

    Explorer Sport appeals to today’s up-and-coming professionals searching for a vehicle to support an active lifestyle. Such buyers tend to be younger; many of them are single. Nearly half of all Explorer Sport buyers are women. They consider their vehicle a reflection of themselves, and they take pride in a vehicle with a strong personality. They like the security of the vehicle’s ride height and its capabilities. Its sporty styling and roomy interior make it more of a lifestyle vehicle than many cars these buyers might also consider.

    The Explorer Sport is now available in XLS, XLT and XLT Premium trim levels. It is built in Louisville, Kentucky.


    Explorer Sport achieves an athletic, powerful appearance with wide bodyside moldings, flared wheel arches, integrated front and rear bumpers and wraparound headlamps.

    The black roof rails fitted with optional crossbars are stylish and functional and can carry up to 100 pounds of cargo. Available side step bars provide convenient access to the vehicle and also add to the rugged, capable appearance.

    For 2003, Red Fire Clearcoat Metallic is a newly available exterior color.

    Explorer’s bold design extends to the interior where comfort, roominess and utility are areas of special emphasis. The seat fabric is a tightly woven material Ð easily cleaned and necessary in a vehicle for the active and outgoing. The material, wrapped around dual density foam, allows bolsters and seat cushions to have different degrees of firmness for improved comfort.

    Two seat choices are available in
    Explorer Sport:

    • Power cloth sport bucket seats that offer a driver’s side six-way power seat adjustment and an adjustable head restraint. This lower back bucket gives the cabin a more open feel, as rear seat occupants are less isolated. Both seats have map pockets on the back. The split-bench seat in the rear is cloth.
    • Power leather sport bucket seats are available and include the same features as the cloth bucket seats.

    The rear seat can be folded flat should additional cargo space be needed. Rear seats provide excellent leg, knee and headroom. Lap and shoulder belts and head restraints, are provided for all passengers.

    Plenty of storage space can be found in Explorer Sport. The flow-through console has been improved with large, deep cup holders that can help keep a bottle of soda or water from tipping out during quick stops or maneuvers.

    To better connect the sport attitude of the customer and the vehicle, Explorer Sport’s instrument panel and door handles have titanium accents, and the instrument cluster uses white-faced gauges. The Sport’s instrument cluster provides a speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature and fuel gauges. Control switches and knobs are positioned easily within the driver’s reach.


    Improvements to Explorer Sport’s interior for 2003 begin with the seats, which are now a cloth-trimmed low-back design with adjustable head restraints as standard equipment. Seating fabrics and door trim are new this year. For the first time, heated leather seats are available with power lumbar support for the driver and front passenger.

    The new series lineup includes the XLS trim (late availability), with its 4.0-liter SOHC V-6, power windows and locks, styled steel wheels and single-CD audio system; the XLT, which adds aluminum wheels, power mirrors, a cassette/CD audio system, remote keyless entry, security approach lamps, tilt steering wheel and speed control; and the XLT Premium, which adds bright-finish aluminum wheels, a premimum floor console with a front power point, removable ashtray, audio headphone jack, rear audio controls and rear fan outlets and controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic on-off headlamps, power-adjustable driver seat, front tow hooks (4×4 only), side steps and overhead console.

    The Explorer Sport has a standard floor console with two front cup holders, an open storage bin, two retractable rear cup holders, removable soft pack and a convenience clip.

    The available overhead console includes two map/courtesy lights, electronic compass, outside temperature display and storage bin for a garage door opener.

    The second-row 50/50 split bench seat is equipped with four-way adjustable head restraints.

    Explorer Sport has a standard AM/FM stereo/cassette/single-CD player on XLT and XLT Premium or an optional six-disc in-dash CD player with Pioneer Sound System. The vehicle has 71.1 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded flat. The flip-up rear window provides easy access to the cargo area. For 2003, a 12-volt power point has been added at the rear of the vehicle.

    An optional power moonroof can be tilted open or fully retracted and includes a
    manually retractable sliding sunshade as well as an express one-touch-
    open feature.

    Powertrain and Chassis

    Explorer Sport’s standard 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and produces 203 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 237 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm.

    The Explorer Sport has a 5,040-pound maximum towing capacity with 4×2 automatic overdrive transmission when properly equipped.

    The Explorer Sport’s smooth, balanced ride is accomplished by using a two-stage variable-rate taper leaf spring in the rear. With lighter loads, the Explorer Sport’s longer leaf springs work to keep the ride smooth. To create a higher spring rate to handle larger, heavier loads, a second, stiffer leaf contacts with the first to maintain a pleasant ride. The shock absorbers are tuned to match the spring rates. The Sport’s front suspension is an independent short- and long-control arm type with torsion bar and a front stabilizer bar.

    Explorer Sport has an optional electronic shift-on-the-fly, four-wheel drive system. Shift-on-the-fly operation provides added traction with the twist of a knob, helpful on loose or slippery surfaces.

    Brakes on the Explorer Sport are tuned to provide the driver with better feel, performance and reliability.

    The front brakes are vented discs with large 12-inch (305 mm) rotors, single-piston calipers and long life front linings.

    A four-wheel, anti-lock braking system remains standard on the Sport. ABS helps the driver retain steering control by reducing wheel lock-up during hard stops.


    Urethane body mounts give Explorer Sport reductions in noise, vibration and harshness. These micro cellular urethane body mounts help isolate the driver from unwanted road noise. Extensive testing was done at Ford’s Arizona Proving Ground to ensure the urethane could live up to years of abuse. The tests proved that urethane is more durable than rubber – twice as good.

    Urethane also is 27 percent lighter and provides better road isolation, actually decreasing low frequency noise by more than 3 decibels (the kind of rumble one hears when going over a road).

    The Explorer Sport’s instrument panel is made of laminated steel. Laminated steel essentially is two sheets of metal with a viscous material sandwiched between and has greater noise damping than plain cold rolled steel. The Explorer Sport’s distinctive “power hood,” which helps give the SUV a more aggressive, masculine look, also allowed engineers to add a more dense hood blanket to reduce unwanted engine noise.

    Safety and Security

    Safety features include driver and front-passenger air bags, speed-sensitive front windshield wipers, fuel pump inertia shut-off switch, child safety seat top tether anchors and a four-wheel disc anti-lock braking system.

    Front safety belts with energy management retractors pay out webbing during a frontal collision to help reduce the belt force acting on an occupant’s chest. Ford’s BeltMinderTM system reminds the driver to buckle up. The front safety belt pretensioners have been updated for 2003.

    Security features include an illuminated entry system, SecuriLockTM passive anti-theft system, available remote keyless entry with panic alarm and driver’s door keypad and available approach lamps – mounted in the bottom of the side view mirrors – that illuminate the ground around the front doors when the key fob “unlock” button is pressed.