The venerable Ford Explorer has been around for some 25 years and five – er, six – generations now. There've been some pretty near variations of the truck in that time; here're our favourites.
Ford Explorer Police Interceptor Utility
Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin
Ford Explorer 'Jurassic Park' recreation
Ford Explorer America Concept
Ford Explorer MXV
Ford Explorer Sportsman Concept
Original Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition
LEGOLAND Ford Explorer
2016 Ford Explorer EcoBoost
The Explorer interceptor is essentially the SUV of choice for police forces across North America. With a 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6, it boasts both speed and fuel economy, plus the capability to haul a whole whack of police gear.
Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) got a hold of a truck-bed-equipped Sport Trac version of the Explorer in 2005 and turned it into the Adrenalin high-performance concept, a 390-horsepower supercharged V8-powered successor to the legendary SVT F-150 Lightning. It was supposed to hit dealers in 2007 but was, unfortunately, nixed before it did.
If you’ve always wanted to accurately recreate the ripples-in-a-glass-of-water scene from Jurassic Park, you’re going to need a Jurassic Park Ford Explorer. That’s probably what got this guy to make his very own with some spray paint, decals and a movie-correct brush guard.
Between 1998 and 2001, tuner Saleen turned more than 100 Explorers into XP8s, the company’s own supercharged 286-horsepower 5.0-litre V8 version of the thing, complete with improved suspension components, an upgraded interior and a full body kit. We’d go in for one of the XP6 six-cylinders, though, which are even rarer, with production hovering around 10 units. (explorerxp8.com)
When Ford showed of its Explorer America Concept, it was pointing out the direction the production Explorer’d be heading—not just stylistically, but also in terms of its shift to unibody construction versus body-on-frame. Too bad those cool mounted-to-the-center-column sliding rear seats didn’t make it to market.
The Mazda Navajo three-door compact SUV beat out the Explorer Sport for Motor Trend‘s Truck of the Year upon both vehicles’ launches in 1991. Funny thing is, it was an Explorer Sport, just with some Mazda badges on it. We never got the Navajo here in Canada.
This concept vehicle by BraunAbility does wheelchair accessibility right, and by that we mean “gives absolutely no hints while driving that its modified for wheelchair accessibility.” The Explorer MXV, one of the first wheelchair-accessible SUVs, blends right in with traffic when it’s all closed up, and we’re not just saying that because of the camoflage. Props, too, to BraunAbility for donating the concept to a U.S. war veteran.
In 2001, Ford unveiled this concept Explorer targeted at, uh, fly fishermen. Skid plates, built-in winch, storage for your reels in the running boards, and even a 30-gallon live fish tank in the back—this truck really did have everything, including a running four-cylinder, something you don’t see in most concept cars.
Nothing beats an original two-tone Eddie Bauer Edition Explorer from 1991. The name was supposed to shout “outdoorsy-ness,” but inside you got an interior plusher and more luxurious than any of the Ford’s rivals’ in the still-new compact SUV segment.
Ford teamed up with LEGOLAND Florida in 2001 to make this full-size 380,000-brick LEGO Explorer. It took workers in the Explorer’s Chicago assembly plant about 2,500 hours to put the thing together, which is pretty impressive considering they’d lost the instruction booklet.
We couldn’t get enough of the 2016 Explorer when we saw it at this year’s L.A. Auto Show, but more than the styling we dug the new Mustang-derived 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine that adds power versus the old 2.0-litre unit but manages the same fuel economy. The Platinum trim V6 is pictured.