The Ford Explorer has, in a relative flash, gone from being merely a replacement for the Bronco II to becoming a bona-fide model leader. With more than 300,000 sales annually over the past two years, the Explorer has taken over the lead from the Chevy/GMC twins and the Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee in the market’s compact sport/utility segment.
It has done so with a combination of crisp good looks, a larger cargo capacity than the competition, a long wheelbase (just under 112 in. for the 4-door) that delivers excellent ride characteristics, and a 4.0-liter V6 that offers a fine compromise between performance and fuel economy.
For 1995, the Explorer is a virtually all-new vehicle, with significant changes made to every area separate from its body-shell shape. The powertrain remains the 4.0-liter V6, with either a standard 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic overdrive.
Engine cooling has been upgraded. A new electronic automatic overdrive transmission with full electronic control of shifting and converter lockup - the A4LDE - is standard on most models and includes a brake/shift interlock system.
The entire nose-end of the Explorer is new, including bumper, hood, fenders and oversize wraparound front lamps, all highlighted by an aggressive, large-grid grille. The extremely popular 4-door version has a chrome grille and bumper treatment, and the more off-road oriented, 2-door version uses body color on the grille and black on the bumper. Fender flares on both are much more prominent than on the ’94.
New safety features are in abundance for 1995, including 4-wheel disc brakes with standard anti-lock brakes (ABS), a standard dual airbag system, non-motorized adjustable-height shoulder belts, rear-seat head restraints, and a center high-mounted stoplight.
The ’95 Explorer comes in several versions: 2-door XL, Sport and Expedition, and 4-door XL, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited. All models are available in 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive.
The sporty 2-door Expedition model replaces the 2-door Eddie Bauer. Its special equipment package consists of 16-in. chromed steel wheels and P255 tires as standard equipment, along with wheel-lip moldings, integrated fog lamps and standard step bars.
For 1995, a short-and-long-arm (SLA) fully independent front suspension takes the place of the Twin I-Beam. Our test Explorer XLT gave greatly improved ride and handling on-road, with better bounce, pitch and harshness control - all without creating clearance problems when we went off-road. Rack-and-pinion steering has replaced the former recirculating-ball power steering system.
The Explorer offers push-button control of 4WD, and for 1995 there is an optional 4WD system called ControlTrac 4WD that can be operated in 2WD, automatic 4WD or 4WD low range. In automatic 4WD, additional torque is transferred to the front wheels as required by driving conditions.
The Explorer has 15-in. wheels and tires as standard equipment, with a larger, 16-in. P255 tire standard for the Eddie Bauer and Expedition models.
All Explorer hoods have been fitted with pneumatic hood-lift assist struts in place of prop rods. The windshield wipers have been upgraded for improved wipe quality and reduced noise, and there’s an optional interval rear-wiper system for the tailgate glass. A battery-saver feature has also been added to shut down headlamps after 10 minutes if they have inadvertently been left on.
An Automatic Ride Control system is standard on Explorer Limited 4x4 models. A 4-wheel, variable-damping air-shock system developed by Ford Truck and Ford Electronics, in cooperation with the Monroe shock-absorber folks, constantly senses suspension movement, steering, braking and acceleration motions. It automatically compensates, producing a flatter, more controlled ride quality.
The system also provides load-leveling for towing and cargo hauling, lowers ride-height at highway speeds for improved fuel economy, and manually raises the vehicle for additional off-road clearance.
Our 1995 Explorer had an easy-to-read instrument panel with fully illuminated controls and switches, along with new seat trims, upholstery styles and door panels (leather on the Limited). The steering wheel had lighted speed-control switches, enabling us to easily use cruise control in low-light conditions without putting ourselves in danger.
Also new this year are large-bezel radio controls with much larger rotating knobs and push-button selectors. They’re a great deal easier to use than the previous small-chassis radio controls.
The Explorer’s floor pan mounts a revised slide bar for the seat tracks. And there is an additional 12-volt power point for electronic accessories.
An optional console between the front bucket seats contains cupholders, a message center, a small storage compartment, a tissue dispenser, and ashtray, a set of rear radio controls, a designated space for the optional 6-CD changer, and space for an optional Ford Electronics flip-out, voice-actuated cellular phone.
One version of the optional center console even has a hot-and-cold air blower with upper and lower registers. All of the plastic interior trim panels have been redone and have a richer, more integrated look.
There are some new creature-comfort optionals added to the Explorer’s long list; a power rather than manual moonroof, automatic climate control, an illuminated entry system, a voice-activated cellular telephone, a three-position reclining rear seat, and an integrated child seat built into the right rear seat.
There’s also an optional 6-CD player installed in the center console in place of the previous in-dash, single-disc player.
With all-new instruments to look at and use, a lower hoodline, and a smoothed-out interior, our Explorer XLT was a delight to drive. The front suspension has eliminated a lot of the old Explorer’s annoying ride habits, especially the pitching and rocking we used to experience at freeway speeds. It’s quiet and relatively plush (for a truck) with a bit of body roll in sharp turns.
The 4.0-liter V6 is certainly no substitute for the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s optional V8 or GM’s 200-hp V6. Still, Ford’s engine copes with the heavyweight Explorer’s bulk without straining, though it is still a bit grindy and noisy. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, quietly and positively.
The rack-and-pinion steering is a good deal more precise than the old system, and it doesn’t require a lot of correction in freeway driving. Even though the Explorer is a large, heavy vehicle, it felt lively and was responsive even at low speeds.
Going into its fourth year, the popular Explorer needed a face-lift, up-to-date safety systems, suspension work to counter its seesaw ride motions, and a better steering system. Ford has given the customer all of that and more with the 1995 version, thanks to its fresh appearance, standard ABS and dual airbags, SLA front suspension, and rack-and-pinion steering.
The 1995 Explorer’s price will most likely reflect all of this added standard equipment, plus adjustments for inflation and labor/materials costs, and a healthy dollop for profits.
It’ll be interesting to see how the competition - the completely new sport/utilities from GM and the V8 option from Jeep - will challenge this new Explorer. The 1995 version is yet another winner from the truck mavens at Ford.
|Model Line Overview |
|Base Price (MSRP) |
|Model lineup: |
|5-speed manual |
|Safety equipment (Standard): |
|Safety equipment (Optional): |
|Basic warranty: |
|36 months/36,000 miles |
|Assembled in: |
|Louisville, Kentucky |
|Specifications As Tested |
|Model tested (MSRP): |
|Standard equipment: |
|Options as tested: |
|Destination charge: |
|Gas Guzzler Tax: |
|Price as tested (MSRP) |
|4.0-liter V6 |
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm): |
|116 @ 4500 |
|Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): |
|220 @ 2500 |
|4-speed automatic overdrive |
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: |
|101.7 (Optional: 111.5) in. |
|178.6 (Optional: 188.5) / 70.2 / 67.3 in. |
|Track, f/r: |
|58.3 / 58.3 in. |
|Turning circle: |
|Seating capacity: |
|Head/hip/leg room, f: |
|39.8 / 52.4 / 42.4 in. |
|Head/hip/leg room, m: |
|Head/hip/leg room, r: |
|Cargo volume: |
|750 (Optional: 900/1,000) |
|Towing capacity: |
|5300 lbs. |
|Suspension F: |
|Short/long arm |
|Suspension R: |
|Coil springs/leaf springs |
|Ground clearance: |
|7.4 in. |
|Curb weight: |
|4189 lbs. |
|Brakes, f/r: |
|Fuel capacity: |
|21.0 gal. |