By on March 24, 2014

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When Ford killed off the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, the police car market was left wide open. But the Blue Oval appears to have managed to brought a suitable replacement to market, though it’s not the traditional three-box police sedan.

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By on January 31, 2014

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By the time you read this, I will have bought the last $100 car sold at a public auction… that actually runs!

This 1994 Ford Explorer XL has just under 94,000 miles and has been sitting at a local water department for a couple of years now. The exterior is nothing special, but the interior is surprisingly intact and well kept.

Which begs the question, what the hell should I do with this thing?

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By on January 8, 2014
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I live in a small, genteel, Southern colonial home that comes with all the local goodies.

An over-sized ceiling fan in every room. A little front porch that offers a palatial view of the rolling prairies of Deliverance country.

Throw in a mint julep, homemade lemonade, and the belting baritone of Paul Robeson, and the world becomes my oyster.

Except not right now. It’s too damn cold outside. Which got me to thinking…

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By on October 10, 2012

What do the Honda CR-V and Ford Explorer have in common? Both recieved lukewarm receptions from the automotive press. The Explorer was doomed from the get-go for abandoning its body-on-frame construction and whatever connotations of rugged off-road capability that came with it. Of course, nobody understood that CAFE and economies of scale, the two driving forces behind every decision in today’s automotive world, were responsible for the switch. The CR-V lacked exciting EcoTurboPowerBoost engines and swoopy styling, and so it was largely forgotten by the press. But now both trucks have the last laugh.

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By on October 2, 2012

Want a quick, agile, fun-to-drive vehicle you can stuff a bunch of kids into? Ford has what you’re looking for. Just one catch: you’ll have to move to Europe. Not that Ford sees no market here for a swift seven-seater. They do, just not for one like the S-Max. Instead, for 2013 we receive the Explorer Sport. CEO Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” vision apparently acknowledges that some models must remain regional. Here’s what real Americans want in a high-performance crossover…

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By on June 9, 2012

When I was a young pup shucking out new Willow Green 1995 Explorer XLTs at MSRP or close to it, the Explorer Sport was the unwanted, low-markup, undesirable-demographic, showroom-poison, short-wheelbase, ugly-duckling, obvious-descendant-of-the-Bronco-II, credit-criminal-friendly… oh, you get the idea, right? Nobody wanted them and we didn’t bother to stock them in any quantity.

Those days are long gone, and so is the two-door SUV; the last short-wheelbase Explorer to darken a dealer’s floorplan left the factory over a decade ago. Now, Explorer “Sport” means six-cylinder Ecoboost.

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By on June 5, 2012

The big news for the 2013 Ford F-Series appears to be the use of buttons, rather than trying to cram MyFord Touch down the gaping maw of every single product in the lineup implementing the MyFord Touch infotainment system. Apparently, it all has to do with work gloves.

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By on April 26, 2012

Today is a busy day. Bertel and Ed are off somewhere plotting their next round of skullduggery, Murilee is prowling the junkyards of Denver for the elusive 1991 Isuzu Impulse AWD, Jack is laid up in bed with an illness certainly caught from his child’s pre-school, Steve and Sajeev are collaborating on their next hit column and I am commiting a cardinal sin according to the Church of Panther…fraternizing with the enemy.

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By on March 28, 2012

Anyone looking for a Ford Taurus SHO with a bit more room and towing capacity have their prayers answered with the Ford Explorer Sport.

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By on February 8, 2011

Imagine, for a moment, you are a plant. Well, not just any plant. You are Robert Plant, and everywhere you go, people want you to sing “Stairway to Heaven”. I’d rather not, you tell them. Never liked that one much, to be honest. We’ve a much better song that I’d much rather sing. Called ‘Kashmir’, dontcha know. Much better, that one. For years, you refuse to perform the song. You cancel a proposed Led Zeppelin reunion because the promotion company insists, positively insists, that you play “Stairway”. You’d rather play “Kashmir”. And since you don’t really need the money, that’s the end of it.

I suspect the people who run Ford can sympathize a bit with Mr. Plant. Their “Stairway” is a four-door SUV called the Explorer. You might have heard of it. Sold a bunch, that Explorer, even though it was always kind of a hokey tune, a Ranger truck with a cap and a couple rows of plastic-leather seats, perched sky-high on underinflated Firestones.

The Explorer was never a truly outstanding answer to the family-wagon question, so a couple years back Ford created the Flex, which is an outstanding answer. It should have made the Explorer obsolete, but there were two problems. It wasn’t really an SUV, and it wasn’t an Explorer. And since Ford, unlike Zeppelin’s Golden God, needs the money…

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By on August 12, 2010

I recently attended a fancy-pants dinner held by Chrysler PR for some Houston-area bloggers. We were wined, dined and introduced to the 2011 Grand Cherokee. While free food and journalistic integrity are a tough combo to swallow, I found something entertaining and inherently blog worthy: the castrated 2011 Ford Explorer is in the new Grand Cherokee’s gunsight. Why? One of the SUV’s most famous nameplates is now a crossover, while another is still an SUV. But neither of them like being called names.

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By on July 26, 2010

One week ago, I was given a “sneak peek” of the new Explorer at Ford’s Product Development Center in Dearborn. I learned then what you all probably know by now: The new Explorer is a D3-platform vehicle, offering reasonably spacious seven-seat packaging, the myFordTouch in-car entertainment system, a twin-LCD dashboard, and a 237-horsepower turbo four as the base engine.

In other words, it’s a car, just like the Honda Pilot is a car and the Toyota Highlander is a car.

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By on July 24, 2010

As we roll along towards tomorrow’s social-media-focused reveal of the 2011 Explorer, I thought we’d take one last time to discuss the old trucks and their general merits. It’s possible to argue that the Explorer has provided quality transport for millions of American families; it’s also possible to cast the vehicle in the role of villain, with its victims being those same families, the environment, and the shape of the American auto market.

I’ll make both arguments below, and then I’d like to hear your opinion.

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By on July 23, 2010

The 1995 Explorer gave me a real taste of what it must be like to be an “order-taker” at a Honda or Toyota dealership. Customers drove up, took whatever we had on the lot, and paid sticker without complaining. We were perennially short on inventory, which of course didn’t keep my flamboyant General Manager from reserving one for his personal use.

Glenn, the GM in question, liked to have things just so. Once every two or three months, he ordered a white Explorer XLT 945A with a few extra options. As soon as his new one showed up, we had to sell his old one. It was a system that worked very well; since Glenn’s demo was the only Explorer on which we offered any real discount, it was a quick sale.

Several Explorers back, Glenn’s personal whip had been involved in a mild fender-bender and had been shuttled off to the body shop. It was placed on the back burner because it was an “in-house” deal, but when it returned, we all marveled at how perfectly it had been repaired. It looked like a brand-new 1994 Explorer.

Which it was.

And it returned to us in January of 1995, in the middle of a monster snowstorm.

Did I mention it was two-wheel-drive?

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By on July 22, 2010

Having just seen the new Explorer, but being under some kind of embargo, I’ve decided to write about old Explorers this week – jb

My parents raised me to never inquire about another person’s salary, but they didn’t have the chance to deliver this message to everyone else in America. As a result, I’ve seen this question asked of many people, including myself, during my lifetime. There are two ways this question can be answered. The first one is the way that everyone in the universe except paid-on-commission salespeople answer it. The pseudo-math equation is this:

(Reported annual income) = (actual annual income)

Salespeople answer the question differently. In fact, I’ve never met one who failed to give the following answer, expressed in the same style:

(Reported annual income) = ((Best Month Ever) * 12)

With that in mind, what follows is how I earned $108,000 a year selling Ford Explorers in 1995.

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