1996 Ford Explorer Sport Utility

4dr 112' WB XLT 4WD

Starting at | Starting at 16 MPG City - 20 MPG Highway

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  • $25,910 original MSRP

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Printable Version

1996 Ford Explorer Sport Utility

Printable Version

1996 Ford Explorer Sport Utility


Pre-Owned Profile: 1991-1996 Ford Explorer

Source: AutoTrader.com

By far, the most popular SUV on the road.

Ford introduced the Explorer in 1991 as a replacement for the none too popular Bronco II, which had fallen behind its competition -- the Jeep Cherokee and Chevrolet Blazer -- in terms of refinement. Ford obviously did its homework, as the Explorer quickly became a best seller and it has easily lead the compact sport-utility vehicle segment in sales for many years.

During the 1998 model year it just outsold the Honda Accord, the best-selling car, making it the most popular vehicle behind the Chevrolet C/K and Ford F-series pickup trucks. According to the Polk research company, it also has the most loyal owners in the segment, meaning that more Explorer owners remain loyal to the Explorer when they buy another vehicle than do any other SUV owners. Strong loyalty such as this indicates owners are happy with their vehicles.

All in all the Explorer offers good value for the money. It's the largest of the compact SUVs and although it may not be the most refined model currently, it is a strong performer nonetheless. If you don't mind the more truck-like ride and noise levels, the Explorer should be at the top of your list.


What You Need To Know:

1. Review of a 1992 Ford Explorer

2. Summary of Good and Bad Points by Owners

3. History of Explorer

4. Review of Current Model

5. Basic Facts

6. Changes Year-to-Year

7. Safety Information

8. Value Guide

9. Option Installment Rate

10. Sales History

11. Awards and Commendations Earned

12. Other Reviews

13. Recall Information

14. Price of Spare Parts


1. Pre-Owned Vehicle Review -- 1992 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer

My Likes: interior space, performance (in newer versions)

Dislikes: poor ride (2-door), poor fuel economy

Competitors: Chevrolet Blazer/GMC Jimmy/Oldsmobile Bravada, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Miles: 39,800

Condition: B

Price New: $24,443

Estimated Current Value: $15,500 (March 1998)

The Explorer is the biggest of the compact SUVs on the market. I was reminded of this when I climbed into the cockpit of a white four-door 1992 Eddie Bauer edition with 4WD. This particular vehicle had low mileage for the year, yet it was only in average condition. It displayed a couple of nicks in the paint and had scruffy carpets. The Eddie Bauer edition adds power leather bucket seats, two-tone body cladding, a roof rack, privacy glass and some other features. In 1992, it was the top-of-the-line model in the Explorer range.

Everything seemed to work well. The engine started promptly and the shift lever displayed no signs of slack. Performance was acceptable, but nothing too scintillating. Until 1996, Explorer buyers had no choice in engines. Still, for the majority of people who use the Explorer to commute, it's perfectly adequate.

Around town, the handling proved to be adequate, although the ride became quite rough on bumpy roads. I also found the noise level to be higher than I remembered when I first drove an Explorer. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to turn the Explorer around in tight areas. The turning radius is surprisingly small for such a large 4WD vehicle. The high driving position certainly helped in the vision department -- it's great to be able to see over parked cars and low hedges.

The Explorer's size makes it a versatile vehicle. There is plenty of room for cargo behind the rear seats. Also, the rear seat splits in two and folds down to provide more storage space. The seat backs and bottoms fold down in one movement and the back lays down flush with the rear cargo floor. It's a very convenient feature. Rear-seat leg room in the four-door model is generous. All in all, the Explorer is a good alternative to a minivan, especially if one does not need to carry more than five people (or split the kids up between two rows of seats)! The two-door model has a rougher ride and it doesn't provide the interior space to make it as practical as the four-door model.


2. Summing It Up - Owners' Views

Good: N/A

Bad: N/A

Verbatims: N/A


3. History of Explorer

Before the introduction of the Explorer in 1991, Ford was not, relatively speaking, a strong player in the SUV marketplace. Ford had been relying on the two-door Bronco II, which was a fairly primitive SUV compared to the Chevrolet S10 Blazer and Jeep Cherokee, which were increasingly dominating the growing SUV segment. Jeep (in 1983) easily beat Ford to market with a four-door SUV.

However, once Ford introduced the Explorer as the Bronco II replacement, in 1990 as a 1991 model, everything changed. Literally overnight, the Explorer was a hit in the marketplace. It became the best selling SUV its first year on the market. By 1995, it had become the third-most-popular vehicle in the country, ahead of all car models and only behind the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet C/K pickup trucks. From the outset, the Explorer was available as a two- or four-door vehicle with 2WD or 4WD. Until 1996, it was only available with one engine, a 4.0-liter V-6. In 1996, a V-8 option became available and the following year, a higher-performance derivative of the V-6 was also offered as an option.

In 1995, the Explorer received its first facelift. The front suspension was completely redesigned and it became the first SUV with rack-and-pinion steering. A new grille gave the vehicle a rounder, more posh look. Most important though, the dashboard was redesigned to accommodate dual airbags. Another significant improvement was the adoption of Ford's Control Trac 4WD system, an option that automatically switched to 4WD when needed. The chief benefit is that it can operate on dry pavement and is always available when slippery conditions are detected, without the driver having to switch it on.

Despite intense competition in the compact SUV segment, the Explorer has managed to remain at the top as the best-selling SUV by quite a margin over the second-place Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Mercury dealers have also been selling the Mountaineer, an upscale version of the Explorer, since 1997. The V-8 engine powers most of them so they cost more than the average Explorer. Mazda sold a two-door version of the Explorer, called the Navajo, between 1991 and 1994. It was identical to the Explorer except for the badging and some trim details.


4. Review of Current Explorer

Although the Explorer has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1991, the newer models are definitely more refined. However, the ride in the two-door model is still too choppy for my liking. The longer wheelbase on the four-door model makes for a much more pleasant ride. Ironically, the short-wheelbase model works better off-road as it's easier to maneuver and it's not as likely to get stuck crossing gullies.

In my opinion, the best engine is the optional V-6 with overhead camshaft, especially as it is mated with a five-speed automatic transmission. Although it has the same displacement as the stock engine, it pumps out much more horsepower and has improved low-end torque. In fact, it gives up little in performance to the more powerful, optional V-8 while delivering better fuel economy. The V-8 is a good bet if you do serious towing on a regular basis.

The steering and handling is also much better thanks to the new front suspension, but I still found the Explorer to be more truck-like than I'd prefer. Unfortunately, the vehicle is a still noisier than one would expect in a modern upscale vehicle. The ergonomics of the dashboard are better than in the models built before 1995. One of the nicest touches is the integrated tissue dispenser in the front of the center console armrest -- don't laugh, it's a small feature that has been greatly appreciated by many owners.


5. Basic Facts -- 1991 to 1994 Explorer

Vehicle Type: Compact Sport Utility

No. Passengers: up to five

Origin of Assembly: Louisville, KY

Engine: Standard: 4.0-liter 160 hp V-6

Option: 4.0-liter 205 hp (1997 on)

Option: 5.0-liter 215 hp V-8 (1996 on)

Transmission: 5-spd manual, 4-spd. automatic; rear-drive or 4WD

Length: 174 inches (2-door), 184 inches (4-door)

Wheelbase: 102 inches (2-door), 112 inches (4-door)

Width: 70 inches

Height: 67 inches

Curb Weight: 3900 to 4200 lbs. (approx.)

Cargo Volume: 69 cu. ft. (2-door), 82 cu. ft. (4-door)

Fuel Tank Capacity: 19 gals.

Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway): 17/22 (manual), 15/20 (auto)


6. Changes in the Ford Explorer Line 1993 - 1999

1994 Model Year

Last year of old model. Minor changes.

1995 Model Year

More aerodynamic model introduced with redesigned front suspension.

In addition to standard dual airbags, other safety improvements, included a four-wheel, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with four-wheel disc brakes, rear-seat head restraints, and a new high-mount stop light.

The interior had an all-new instrument panel

1996 Model Year

A 5.0-liter V-8 engine became available as an option on some models.

1997 Model Year

A new SOHC 4.0-liter two-valve V-6 optional engine provided more power and better fuel economy.

A new five-speed automatic transmission was added as an option.

1998 Model Year

Next-generation anti-lock brakes (ABS), a standard anti-theft system, minor chassis upgrades and more comfort features were added.

Some exterior styling updates for 1998 included new tail lamps and rear bumper, a new liftgate with larger liftgate glass.

1999 Model Year

Bigger front bumpers and other minor exterior trim details

Optional side airbags available on all models

Reverse sensing system gives audible warning when vehicle backs up to within six feet of an object (optional)

Limited model has more luxurious interior


7. Safety Notes

NHTSA Crash rating (1995 and newer only): Driver 4; Passenger 4 (5 is best)

Rear anti-lock brakes only from 1991 to 1994

Four-wheel anti-lock brakes standard from 1995 on.

Dual air bags standard from 1995 on.


8. Value Guide

Prices listed are for base models. Options can add considerably to the lowest price listed as these are usually "stripped" models. In many cases, very few vehicles are ever sold at the lowest price listed! Source: Kelley Blue Book

1992 Model Year

New: $14,667 to $21,452

1993 Model Year

New: $15,435 to $24,880

1994 Model Year

New: $16,313 to $25,940

1995 Model Year

New: $17,527 to $30,683

1996 Model Year

New: $18,302 to $31,110

1997 Model Year

New: $18,810 to $31,645

1998 Model Year

New: $20,123 to $30,482


9. Option Installment Rate

Generally, when you order a new car you have a choice of factory-installed options. When you buy a pre-owned vehicle the choice is limited to what was actually installed on vehicles sold in that model year. Use this option installment rate as a guide to the chances of finding particular options on a pre-owned vehicle. Source: Ward's Automotive Yearbooks

1993 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 14%

4-Door 86%


Automatic 87%

Manual 13%

4WD 68%

ABS Brakes: 55%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 97%

Cruise Control 97%

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a%

1994 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 14%

4-Door 86%


Automatic 91%

Manual 9%

4WD 70%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 98%

Cruise Control 97%

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a%

1995 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 13%

4-Door 87%


Automatic 95%

Manual 5%

4WD 73%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 98%

Cruise Control 99%

Remote/Keyless Entry: n/a%

1996 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 12%

4-Door 88%


4.0-liter V-6 82%

5.0-liter V-8 18%


Automatic 96%

Manual 4%

4WD 56%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 99%

Cruise Control 99%

Leather Seats 46%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 75%

1997 Model Year

Installment Rate


2-Door 15%

4-Door 85%


4.0-liter V-6 77%

5.0-liter V-8 23%


Automatic 97%

Manual 3%

4WD 67%

ABS Brakes: 100%

Air Conditioning 100%

Power Windows 99%

Cruise Control 99%

Leather Seats 47%

Remote/Keyless Entry: 82%


10. Production/Sales Volume History

Normally, a model year runs from October to September. Often though, when a new version is introduced, it hits the market before October. Legally, a model year can start as early as January of the preceding year. Accurate model year sales counts are almost impossible to collect, as different model year vehicles are regularly sold side-by-side for several months. Production figures, when listed, include vehicles made for export to Canada, Mexico and overseas. Source: manufacturers

1994 Model Year

Production Run: Sept. 1993 through Oct. 1994

Total Number Produced: 400,275

Total No. Sold in U.S.: n/a

1995 Model Year

Production Run: Nov. 1994 through Jul. 1995

Total Number Produced: 281,628

Total No. Sold in U.S.: n/a

1996 Model Year

Production Run: Aug. 1995 through Jul. 1996

Total Number Produced: 453,058

Total No. Sold in U.S.: n/a

1997 Model Year

Production Run: Aug. 1996 through Jul. 1997

Total Number Produced: 449,371

Total No. Sold in U.S.: n/a

1998 Model Year

Production Run: Aug. 1997 through Sept. 1998

Total Number Produced: n/a

Total No. Sold in U.S.: 415,362

11. Awards and Commendations


"Best Overall Value of the Year - Compact Utility Class" and "Best American Truck Value over $13,000" - IntelliChoice

"Family Car of the Year in Activity Vehicle Category" - Family Circle


"Family Activity Vehicle of the Year Award" - Family Circle

"Best Buy" - Consumer Guide

"The Best of What's New" - Popular Mechanics

"Best Value Award" - Home Mechanix



"The suspension is well damped. On the highway, you get a feeling of comfort and stability - it knows how to go straight down the road, yet the steering is quite responsive. Wind noise is higher than it should be, and the body has more quivers and shakes than a contemporary passenger car." - Car and Driver, comparison test, April 1996 (Explorer XLT with V-8 engine)

"The latest Ford Explorer is as competent as ever - and with its supple front suspension it's more car-like too." - Road & Track, March 1996

"Since the Explorer supplanted the Bronco II in 1990, Ford has done one of the best jobs among SUV makers at gauging what it is customers want, and making sure they get it." - AutoWeek 1997 Buyers Guide


13. Recalls (Only major recalls listed)

ID Number: 95V164000

Component: structure: hatchback hydraulic cylinder: trunk cylinder

Year: 1992 - 94

Year of Recall: 1995

Potential Number of Units Affected: 364,784

Summary: The hydraulic lift cylinders are attached to brackets that are welded to the liftgate. The bracket welds can fracture. With a broken bracket weld, there is a potential for the liftgate bracket to gradually bend inward allowing the lift cylinder ball stud to disengage.

ID Number: 96V024000

Component: brakes: power assist: primary: booster

Year: 1992 - 94

Year of Recall: 1996

Potential Number of Units Affected: 110,500

Summary: The studs which attach the brake master cylinder to the power brake vacuum booster assembly can develop stress corrosion cracking after being operated for an extended period of time in the southern California location. If a crack occurs, it could result in one or both studs fracturing. The master cylinder could then separate from the vacuum booster, when the brakes are applied, preventing the service brakes from activating, increasing the risk of a vehicle accident.

ID Number: 97V083000

Component: visual systems: mirrors

Year: 1992 - 94

Year of Recall: 1997

Potential Number of Units Affected: 610,000

Summary: A short circuit condition can occur in the remote power mirror control switch circuit board as a result of a separated part of the contact assembly bridging the switch positive battery pad and adjacent chassis ground pad. The current can overheat the printed circuit board and other plastic and elastomeric components of the switch assembly resulting in smoke or fire.

ID Number: 97V235000

Component: structure: roof: t-top

Year: 1992 - 93

Year of Recall: 1997

Potential Number of Units Affected: 208,000

Summary: Multi-purpose passenger vehicles equipped with factory-installed sunroof. The sunroof glass panel assembly can separate while the vehicle is moving due to incorrect hinge engagement. This was caused by improper sunroof installation of the glass panel. Unexpected separation of the sunroof glass panel could possibly distract the driver increasing the risk of a vehicle crash or loss of vehicle control.

ID Number: 94V169000

Component: emergency parking brake: mechanical

Year: 1993 - 94

Year of Recall: 1994

Potential Number of Units Affected: 884,400

Summary: The parking brake control self-adjust pawl does not line up properly with the self-adjust ratchet causing the pawl to slip over one or more teeth in the ratchet. When the above occurs, it can result in parking brake system ineffectiveness. The parking brake will not hold the vehicle, causing the vehicle to roll freely, if the transmission is not left in gear.

ID Number: 95V053000

Component: steering: linkages: tie rod: inner

Year: 1995

Year of Recall: 1995

Potential Number of Units Affected: 49,300

Summary: The inner tie rod assemblies were improperly manufactured and can fracture causing shaking or shimmy at low speeds. This condition can cause the wheel on the side with the broken tie rod to tuck inward or outward and slide resulting in an increased potential for a vehicle accident.

ID Number: 96V070000

Component: structure: door assembly: latches and locks

Year: 1996

Year of Recall: 1996

Potential Number of Units Affected: 73,500

Summary: The driver door latches, when in the secondary latched position may open when subjected to transverse loads less than that specified in FMVSS No. 206, "Door Locks and Door Retention Components." Consequence of non-compliance: the driver's door, when closed only to the secondary latched position, may not sustain a 1,000 pound transverse load.

ID Number: 96V161000

Component: equipment: certification label

Year: 1996

Year of Recall: 1996

Potential Number of Units Affected: 134,770

Summary: The Certification Labels on the involved vehicles has incorrect rear tire inflation pressure designations. This does not comply with FMVSS No. 120, "Tire Selection and Rims for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars." Incorrect inflation pressures could cause premature wear of the rear tires.

ID Number: 97V074000

Component: fuel: throttle linkages and control

Year: 1996- 97

Year of Recall: 1997

Potential Number of Units Affected: 23,000

Summary: Vehicle Description: Multi-purpose passenger vehicles registered in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan (Upper Peninsula only), Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. These vehicles, when operated for extended periods of time at highway speeds and temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, do not return to idle due to ice in the throttle body. Although the vehicle can be controlled by either applying the service brakes or shifting the transmission to neutral, increased brake pedal efforts or some increase in stopping distance can result.

ID Number: 98V060000

Component: fuel: fuel lines fittings: metallic

Year: 1997

Year of Recall: 1998

Potential Number of Units Affected: 320,000

Summary: Multi-purpose passenger vehicles equipped with 4.0L single overhead cam engines. The engine fuel lines can be damaged if the vehicle is jump started and the ground cable is attached to the fuel line bracket that is located near the battery. Since the bracket is not grounded, the stainless steel fuel line braid could act as a ground potentially overheating the PTFE inner liner of the fuel line resulting in damage to the fuel line. The fuel lines can leak, and in the presence of an ignition source, a fire could potentially result.


14. Cost of Parts and Service (Relative to Other Vehicles)

Headlight unit: $103 (below average)

Side marker lamp: $52 (above average)

Door (left front): $557 (above average)

Fender (left front): $135 (below average)


Note: these are estimated retail prices for commonly replaced body parts on a 1995 model. Prices are current as of mid-1998 but will vary from region to region and are subject to change at any time. Source: ADP Collision


The Rettie Report and Pre-Owned Profiles contain objective information from a variety of sources. The subjective comments are those of John Rettie.


Printable Version

1996 Ford Explorer Sport Utility

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std


Alarm Opt
Printable Version

1996 Ford Explorer Sport Utility

Ford Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Manufacturer's 7 years / 100,000 miles Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Limited Warranty. See dealer for details.. See dealer for details. Rental Reimbursement $30/day.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 model years or newer / less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection 172
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1996 Ford Explorer Sport Utility

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