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  1. 1. 2006 FORD EXPLORER EDDIE BAUER This is a major redesign for the 2006 Explorer. While the dimensions remain essentially the same—aside from an extra 10 cm in length— both the exterior and interior have seen a fair amount of reworking. A third seat is optional with the XLT and Eddie Bauer versions and comes standard with the Limited. The 4.0 litre V6 has been improved while the 4.6 litre V8 is new and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. In addition, the new platform is 63% more resistant to twisting and 55% more resistant to bending. Interior and Trunk The front seats are comfortable and easy to get into, and the driver’s seat features an adjustable lumbar support. The driving position is very good thanks to electronically adjustable pedals. Unfortunately, the pedals can be adjusted even when the car is in motion, which could be dangerous. Head and leg room is good. It’s easy to bump the emergency brake pedal when getting into the vehicle. The interior door handle— both in the front and the back—is under the armrest, which some people will find awkward. In the rear, getting in is easy but getting out is harder because there is little room between the seat and the B pillar. As the name indicates, the four- bucket-seat group features bucket seats in the rear. They offer only average comfort, and taller passengers will be sitting a little low. This group also features a stationary central console, so the floor is uneven in this area along its entire width. The third row is hard to get into and will only seat smaller passengers who don’t require a lot of legroom. All sections of the seatbacks split 50/50 electrically, except in the XLT version. Photo: Ford
  2. 2. The trunk is easy to access thanks to the tailgate, but it has a very limited capacity when the back of the rear seat is up. However, when the seatback is folded down, capacity is very good. Convenience and safety The interior is very well finished, but the quality of the dashboard material seems a little cheap. Soundproofing is good except on a wet road, when you can hear water hitting the rear fender panels. Storage space is good. The instruments and controls are well placed, except for the windshield wiper command, which is on the end of the turn signal lever. Also, the turn signals themselves are inaudible, and some drivers may find that the lever is set too high. Heating is a little slow, but eventually does the job. The radio antenna on a vehicle in this price range should be built into a window and not left to whip around the front right pillar. For safety, the Explorer has two side impact airbags in the front (side curtain airbags are optional), four antilock disc brakes, four-wheel drive, traction control with anti-rollover stability system, faster than average windshield wipers, and good headlights. The rear head restraints don’t rise high enough for medium height or taller passengers. Three-quarter visibility is limited in the rear due to blindspots created by the roof pillars. Also, it’s hard to gauge distances in reverse. There is a lot of glare in the windshield, including some from the dashboard and the chrome around the dials and instruments. Streetlamps also create a higher-than-usual amount of glare in the windshield. In U.S. government tests, the Explorer received five out of five stars for front passenger safety in case of frontal impact, and for all passengers in case of side impact. It received three stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Explorer its highest rating, “good,” in case of frontal offset impact. However, in case of rear impact, it earned the lowest rating—“poor.” Engine and transmission The 4.6 litre V8 provides 292 horsepower and 300 pounds of torque. It goes without saying that with this much under the hood, acceleration and pickup are always lively and the vehicle can tow a heavy load. The accelerator could be more progressive. Fuel consumption is definitely not one of this engine’s strong points. During our trial, we got an average of 17.2 L/100 km. The V8 comes with six-speed automatic transmission. It’s generally smooth, but slow to downshift, especially after major deceleration. This, combined with the jerky accelerator, means that pickup is not so smooth. The gears
  3. 3. are well spaced. The gearshift has to be unlocked between D and N. In automatic mode, the four-wheel-drive system engages abruptly, but the other modes work well. On the Road The four-wheel independent suspension offers a very smooth ride unperturbed by bumps. At most, some reactions are a little firm. Handling is good for this type of vehicle, and you get the feeling you’re driving in a robust machine. Ford states that the ground clearance is 20.8 cm, but under the lower strut mounts of the rear suspension, it’s only 17.7 cm. The power steering is stable, precise, and relatively quick, but a little heavy at low speeds. Its turn radius is normal, and it transfers a bit of roadfeel. The four disc brakes are impressive in how quickly and assertively they can stop a vehicle of this weight. They also resist fading well. In a CAA-Quebec Technical Inspection Centre, we noted that the Explorer’s new platform is very robust. However, certain aspects made us question its off-road capabilities. For example, the bottom part of the radiator is too low, and there is a large opening under the grille through which objects can enter and damage tubes running to the power steering’s cooling system and the air conditioning condenser. There is also a large hole in each front fender inner panel through which dirt can enter the engine compartment. Furthermore, tubes from the rear heating/air conditioning system are exposed, as is the gas filler pipe. The V8’s camshaft is driven by a chain. Conclusion Aside from its more generous length, the new Explorer mainly differs from the old version in its smooth ride, its new V8, and its six-speed transmission. Let’s hope for Ford’s sake that these changes will be enough for the Explorer to hold on to its sales lead in North America. Certain aspects of its construction remind us that Fords are now built more for uptown than the backwoods. Pros: comfort in the front, smooth ride, lively V8, powerful brakes, robust undercarriage, fast windshield wipers. Cons: transmission is slow to downshift, wiper command should be revised, gas-guzzling V8, windshield glare, certain parts unprotected, some materials are cheap.
  4. 4. 2006 FORD EXPLORER Engine: 4.0 litre V6, 12 valves; 4.6 litres V8, 24 valves Horsepower: 210 hp at 5,100 rpm; 292 hp at 5,750 rpm Torque: 254 ft-lbs at 3,700 rpm; 300 ft-lbs at 3,950 rpm Transmission: 5 speed automatic; 6 speed automatic Suspension: independent/independent Brakes: disc/disc Length: 491.2 cm Width: 187.2 cm Height: 184.9 cm Wheelbase: 288.8 cm Weight: 4,301 to 4,309 kg Tires: P245/65R17; P235/65R18 Towing capacity: 3,230 kg Air bags: standard plus two side-impact airbags. Side curtain airbags optional. Fuel consumption with the V8 Transports Canada rating: City 16.6 L/100 km (17 mpg) Highway 10.9 L/100 km (26 mpg) Test result: 17.2 L/100 km (16.5 mpg) Test temperature: –10°C to 2°C Fuel tank capacity: 85 litres Fuel requirement: regular Acceleration: 0–100 km/h: 8.2 seconds 60–100 km/h: 6 seconds Competition: Chevrolet Trailblazer, Dodge Durango, GMC Envoy, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mitsubishi Montero, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner Warranties: Full basic coverage: 3 years/60,000 km Powertrain: 3 years/60,000 km Surface rust control: 3 years/60,000 km Perforation damage: 5 years/unlimited kilometres Emissions control system: 3 years/60,000 km (full coverage). 8 years/130,000 km (catalytic converter, electronic control module). Factory replacement parts: Rear bumper: $561Front brake disc: $153 Brake pads: $160Muffler: $444 Front fender: $203
  5. 5. Average insurance premium (Quebec City, replacement cost endorsement, claim-free insurance record, male or female driver 30 to 40 years old): $1,073 to $1,771 Price according to trim line: XLT: $39,999 Eddie Bauer: $45,999 Limited: $51,299 Main options: V8: $2,000 (XLT); $1,500 (Eddie Bauer) Third row: $750 Leather seats: $1,415 Sun roof: $1,020 DVD player: $1,200 Side curtain airbags: $695 Navigation system: $2,440 Price as tested: $54,575 Freight and preparation: $1,200 Dealers: Quebec: 127 Canada: 600 © Mars 2006. All rights reserved, CAA-Quebec.