By on August 12, 2013

That's not one place. The top is a city in the far south of Jordan, the other two are destinations

For the past two weeks, Your Man in Abu Dhabi is now Your Man in Amman. Being the Best and Brightest, you already know Amman is in Jordan and in addition to being the capital, it is the most populous city is the country.  It is also one of the oldest cities in the world. Jordan itself contains some of the oldest historical sites in the world; including a Roman coliseum, aqueducts and several biblical sites.

At my disposal is a rented 2006 Ford Explorer. So I elected to adopt the name my persona, for a least a day and embark on a mini-pilgrimage along the Dead Sea.

Updated in 2006, the Explorer was put on a new frame and became slightly larger. It also came with a revised cabin, redesigned rear suspension and power-folding third-row seats. This particular well-worn 43,000 mile example is equipped with the standard 210 hp 4.0L 12-valve SOHC V-6 and 5R55W five-speed auto. It also has the standard tire pressure monitoring system (currently broken) along with power seats, locks and pretty capable AC.

Just past 9 AM, I plugged in my iPhone to the plain headphone aux input and hit random. After I was greeted with “Diane” by Material Issue, I set off. Amman has an English speaking pop radio station, but they are in love with new single from Miley Cyrus. I would rather run a carpenter’s plane halfway down my shin.

It was the second day of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan and the roads were deserted. Most of the stores were closed and the majority of folks were off work for four days. I was grateful; Amman is a challenging place to drive, 2nd only to Riyadh Saudi Arabia in my experience. This particular Ramadan has been bad according to an article in the local paper.

gulp gulp gulp. The 2006 Explorer was rated at 14/19 MPG

gulp gulp gulp. The 2006 Explorer was rated at 14/19 MPG

Just outside of the city, the fuel gauge displayed ¼, so I topped off the 22.5 gallon tank. Jordan is not an oil rich country. Gasoline prices are closely regulated by the government, but locals still pay 0.95 Dinar per liter, or just over $5 a gallon. The beast swallows 40 liters to fill the tank, costing me 42 Dinar, just under $60. Ouch.

The view off the side of Jor 40

The view off the side of Jor 40

Even without the V8, the Explorer made easy work of climbing the hills outside of Amman and gracefully descended into the Dead Sea valley. The roads aren’t smooth, but for the region not bad. It’s all blacktop with large sections repaired without repaving the whole stretch. The big truck soaked up the irregularities as you would expect. What was surprising is how well the truck handled. It is not sports car, but previous experiences with vehicles of this size have not been this good. The drive is just over 25 miles. Coming down the mountains, the roadside stands sell cheap inflatable pool toys for the tourists headed to the Dead Sea.

In the mountains around Amman

In the mountains around Amman

My first stop is the Baptism site on the Jordan River. At the bottom of the last hill is a fork in the road, the site is to the right. The road immediately becomes a 2 lane through goat farms and in less than 2 miles I have arrived.

On the horizon, three of the under construction Churches

On the hill, three of the churches that are under construction

Until 1994 the entire zone was off limits, but the Israel-Jordan peace accord opened the area to visitors. You usually cannot drive directly to the site itself, but my timing coincides with a full bus. The tour guide elects to ride with me and we follow the bus to the actual river after getting special permission to drive a POV into the area. Take that punctuality!

 IMG_2179

The Israeli side

The Israeli side

The Jordan side

The Jordan side

 

The river is more of a creek, and at the actual point of entry into the water, you are less than 6 feet from Israeli tourists doing the same thing on the other side. With the opening of the area, every major denomination of orthodox Catholics have started construction of churches, there are 5 being built but only one is in operation, a Greek Orthodox St John the Baptist on The Jordan River.

 IMG_2166

After the hour long guided tour, I climb into the Explorer and continue to the Dead Sea, the ultimate destination of the Jordan River. Recently declared a free trade zone by the Jordanian monarchy, several high end resorts have sprouted up; more are underway and large homes gaze upon the valley. At the same time, cheesy tourist traps offered camel rides and questionably constructed roadside shed sold snacks, soft drinks and swim trunks.

Watch out, they spit

Watch out, they spit

At 1,385 feet below sea level, the shore of the Dead Sea is lowest point of dry land on the planet. The water is hyper saturated with salt, rendering humans quite buoyant. The mud is fabled for medicinal qualities. Indeed as I pull to the shore, swimmers are already in the water and many sit on the shore caking their bodies with the green, clay-like mud. I forgo the swim, but make it a point to wade in. When will I get this chance again?

Behind the Explorer, the Dead Sea. On the other shore, Israel

Behind the Explorer, the Dead Sea. On the other shore, Israel

The clay bottom squished under my feet and remnants stayed between my toes the rest of the day. I returned to the Explorer and continued south.

But that part of story will have to wait until tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

30 Comments on “Holy Explorer – 2006 Ford Explorer Capsule Review...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Those really must be tinted to look decent. Good job getting the car into your shots as your companion!

  • avatar
    SoCalledMillennial

    Couldn’t get past the typos in the first two sentences. Seriously, am I expecting too much?

  • avatar
    ash78

    I missed the part where you drove through the Jordan River and emerged on the other side as a tall, FWD unibody wagon with the same name.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice writeup , terrific pictures , ignore the whiny troll please .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalledMillennial

      How is offering constructive criticism being a troll? The author acknowledged last week that he recognized this problem and wanted to improve it. The opening sentence has already been revised since my original comment. I’m not being facetious when I say “am I asking too much?” Obviously this is a free blog with a lot of awesome individuals who take their own time to contribute, which is admittedly more than I have time or dedication to do myself. Obviously there is going to be some variability in the quality of writing. For me personally, if the first paragraph has multiple typos, and the language is confusing, I’m not going to read the article and will skip the author’s future contributions. I don’t think anyone wants that. Did you read the Dodge Avenger review last week? Several commenters offered comments to improve the article content. Are they trolls as well?

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Of course they’re not being trolls as they offered constructive advice , not whining and refusing to read the article .

        You offered nothing constructive nor positive .

        Some are Scribes . others are persons trying to expand your horizons .

        You chose to be a troll this time , maybe next time you’ll remember your manners .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalledMillennial

          Maybe it’s just me, but if someone pointed out to me(twice) that I had made multiple spelling and grammatical errors in the opening paragraph, even in the sentences before the jump, I would make the conclusion that I needed to spend a little more time on editing. Should I spell it out next time? Here’s something constructive: try using an editor so your language is easier to follow and your message is conveyed better. Tuffjuff makes a reasonable argument that emailing the author would be more tactful, but that doesn’t make my original comment less true. Go back and read the author’s previous article and subsequent comments, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Do me a favor and spare me the righteous indignation, Nate.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    From the Jordanian Tourism site:

    “The water level of the Dead Sea is dropping by about a 30cm (1 foot) per year. It is being diverted by Israel and Jordan for industry, agriculture and household use. Scientists predict that the sea may be dried up by the year 2050.”

    Sad indeed. Need to visit there before it does.

    Returning to things related to autos…please correct me if I’m wrong, bud didn’t the Ford Explorer require mid-grade(89 octane) fuel? Specially in a place with such a high atmospheric pressure as the Dead Sea?

    • 0 avatar

      Seldom do I ever stray from 87 octane in my ’95 with the less-cam endowed version of the 4.0 V6 that this one sports. It never pings, doesn’t have a knock sensor, and still gets 87 octane.

      About the only time it gets mid-grade is when I’m filling up at higher elevations (5,000+) and headed home to 600 foot elevation.

    • 0 avatar
      JimothyLite

      What’ll they call it after it’s gone?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Start spreading vampire rumors and rename it the Undead Sea.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        The Salton Sea in California, before the Colorado River was accidentally diverted to create it, was called both the Salton Depression and the Salton Sink. When the Dead Sea is gone, geographers will probably still call it the Dead Sea, because it’ll really be dead then. OTOH, some international agency will probably start a drive to save it, and the Israelis will have to pump water from the Gulf of Aqaba into it.

  • avatar
    jimble

    I think the other side of the Jordan is in the Palestinian Territory, not technically in Israel, under international law. Some people might get a little touchy about that distinction.

    • 0 avatar

      If we want to get really technical, the eastern shore of the Jordan river in what is now the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan was part of “Palestine” mandated to the British after the defeat of the Ottoman’s in World War One. Britain’s wartime Balfour Declaration that affirmed the right of Jews to return to their homeland in Palestine made no distinction between Palestine east or west of the Jordan. In biblical times, Jews lived on both sides of the river. That explains why there are early Christian sites, like the one the author visited, on the eastern side of the Jordan, all the earliest Christians being Jews.

      However, as a reward for wartime help from some shirttail relatives of the house of Saud, the British hacked off the eastern 75% of Palestine and gave it to the present King Abdullah’s great grandfather, also named Abdullah (his father was Hussein who ascended to the throne after Hussein’s own father, Talal, was institutionalized for schizophrenia).

      To the people you mentioned who might get touchy about the distinction whether or not the baptismal site on the other side of the Jordan is in Israel or the Palestinian Authority I’d simply point out that there already is an Arab state, the majority of whose citizens identify as Palestinians, in historical Palestine. It’s called Jordan. Apparently one Palestinian state in Palestine not enough. Of course, to those touchy folks, a single Jewish state among at least 22 Arab or Muslim countries in the world is an unbearable thing.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Spent a year of my military career working just south of Raffa in the Sinai for the Multi-Force Organization trying to keep an eye on Egypt and Israel to ensure they didn’t violate one another’s peace treaty. Weekends were reserved for traveling when you could, West to Cairo, South to Sharm El Sheik/Taba/Eilat, and east into Tel Aviv and Jeruseluem. The Dead Sea was simply amazing, even more so when you’re in a MFO decaled ’10 white Malibu sedan crammed with a Kiwi, an Aussie, one Canadian, and yours truly (sharing duties with the Canuck as the ANZACs kept steering us into the oncoming traffic lane when they drove). Thank you for the pics, they reminded me of an awesome chapter of my life.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Hah, this article is so interesting I didn’t even notice the errors until whiner pointed them out. Now? Still don’t care. Too interesting of an article.

    On a side note, it’s funny how much it looks like the High Desert out there. If it weren’t for the signs I might have guessed somewhere near Adelanto or Hesperia.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Say what you want about these, they were solid. I had an 2008 Ironman Edition with the 4.6L V8 and nothing could kill it. It was literally an indestructible vehicle. I wish I’d kept it :( I sold it and bought an F-150 last year.

    I also had a 2002 V6 XLT some years ago. Same deal. It was at 220k miles and showed no signs of dying. Had an occasional timing chain rattle between oil changes, but other than that, scheduled maintenance.

    If BOF SUVs had more efficient drivetrains and shed a few hundred pounds, the American automakers could still be printing money with these things.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      I don’t know man. The agency I work for has thousands of these. All V6s, some 4×4. Loudest, crappiest and some of the most uncomfortable vehicle I ever drove. They are kind of reliable but they were just crude even at mid level equipped.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        No kidding. An ex girlfriend had a Ranger 4X4 with the 4.0L V6. What a horrible sounding, vibrating piece of junk. Good riddance.

        If Ford kept using this motor they deserve a second bankruptcy scare.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Nice writeup, I’m looking forward to part two.

    My wife–who knows little about cars, has never owned anything remotely quick and, bless her, couldn’t care less–has one of these with the 4.0 as a company vehicle. Even she was so unimpressed with the acceleration that she asked if it had a 4-cylinder. There’s a reason CUVs replaced this type of vehicle as the suburban runabout of choice.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India