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By Al Vinikour
Since its debut in 1991, Ford
has sold more than 5.5 million Explorers. So when Ford selected
For 2006, Ford is revamping the Explorer, after totally reworking the mid-size ute in 2002 with a stiffer body and an independent rear suspension. The changes for 2006 are more geared toward refinement of the existing package — new front and rear styling, updated drivetrains, and a new interior — but do enough to keep the truck fresh even as Ford sets its SUV sights on the crossover market.
This year, the Explorer offers up four trim levels — XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited — and two engine choices. The first is an improved 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 that meets ULEV standards and puts out 210 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, it can tow up to 5390 pounds, depending on whether it’s outfitted with rear- or four-wheel drive.
The other engine choice is the three-valve 4.6-liter SOHC V-8 shared with the F-Series trucks. It delivers 292 horsepower (53 more than the two-valve V-8) and 300 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a six-speed automatic, and endows the Explorer with a towing capacity of 7300 pounds (too, it adds about 100 pounds more to the truck’s curb weight).