Ford Explorer was Ford’s first attempt at selling an American SUV Downunder
But, back in 1996, Ford Australia didn’t really have an SUV offering. It had stopped selling the GQ Patrol-based Maverick and it needed something to compete in the rapidly expanding SUV sector – Jeep had the Cherokee, Mitsubishi had the Pajero and Toyota had just launched the Prado.
Ford’s answer was the Explorer. Made in the United States, the Explorer promised car-like driving dynamics and styling along with a low range gearbox for those who wanted to well, explore.
Initially, only a 4.0 litre petrol V6 was offered along with three trim levels: XL, XLT and Limited. A second generation was launched later on, which offered greater refinement and the option of a 4.6 litre V8 derived from the Mustang.
Sadly, the earlier examples of the Ford Explorer weren’t exactly a sales success for Ford. There were issues with quality and worldwide issues with Firestone tyres blowing out. The Explorer was withdrawn from the local market in 2005.