I think what the future Explorers need is an engine upgrade. I have a 4.0L V-6 OHV, which I know is the base engine. My engine came stock with 160 HP and 225 lb/ft of torque. I could not STAND the way that truck moved when it was stock, it wouldn't climb through the RPMs fast enough to beat a 4 cylinder. I opted for the 3.73 gears and wider tires. I now have upwards of 215-220 HP after a couple minor upgrades, and now, I am somewhat satisfied. The upgrades performed was:
Dual Cat-Back Exhaust
K&N FIPK Intake
Ported Upper Intake Plenum
Ported Exhaust Ports in Heads
Ported Valve Guides and Fel-Pro head gaskets
Your engine does give quite an amount of HP when tooled with. I just want to add my suggestion, and it is as follows:
1.Try to make a less restrictive exhaust, I know Ford wants everyone to be comfortable, but a thicker exhaust pipe would be better for performance, and towing.
2.Try to make an airbox that utilizes some form of forced induction so air flows through the throttle body easier.
3.The MFAS is too small, enlarging it would help.
4.The 5.0L 302 C.I. engine lacks HP and performance is terrible for a V-8. The only good thing about this engine and vehicle combination is towing. My 4.0L beat an Explorer Limited yesterday, I mean blew the doors off of it.
5.I think Ford should release an special edition Explorer Sport with a 5.0L that pushes at least 240-250 HP. I mean come on, who hasn't thought about that?
6.Also, when working with the 4.0L, try not to add so many components that aren't necessary. The engine bay is impossible to get through. When you try to replace your own spark plugs, there is too many components in the way and you cannot get to them. Or at least try to space things out enough for the average person to be able to work on their vehicle with ease.
7.Try to add some kind of stabilizing system as an option on all Explorers, it would make for a better safety rating, therefore, more would be sold. Most people that are looking for their first SUV, are looking for a SUV that is safe, as well as fun to drive. People are also still a little shady about the whole Firestone-Explorer thing so a little boost in safety would be helpful to Ford.
I hope that someone from Ford gets to read this e-mail and if they do, I would appreciate a reply. Thanks, Robert