2002 Explorer owner report:
Thought I would offer a little information regarding the new '02 Explorer for those considering making a purchase. The odometer now shows 8100 miles, 1300 of which are towing a 2900 lb. tent-trailer.
Model: XLT, 2wd, 4-door, tow package, 4.0L SOHC engine, 5 speed automatic, rear A/C, third row seat. Purchased end of May.
The ride is vastly improved over my old '91 XLT. There is no more skitterishness when the rear wheels encounter road irregularties or washboards. It is a joy to drive on winding mountain roads. The seats are a bit firm, but the adjustable lumbar support really helps on long trips. I took the '02 about 15 mph faster than I ever had my '91 and it was smooth as glass and solid. Love that IRS!
The cruise control is very accurate and sets almost instantly. Love the incremental up and down feature. The outside air temp gauge and compass are nice, but the dash location is bad. These should've been located in the overhead console so all passengers can see it easily.
The standard 4.0L engine seems adequate. After owning the rather laid-back '91 pushrod 4.0L, it did take me awhile to get used to its broad RPM range of the new SOHC engine. It's not unusual to see the tach hit 5500 RPM when accelerating out of tight curves on 6% mountain road grades while towing. Yet, the engine turns only 2500 RPM at 60 mph (O.D off) when towing on level highways (500 RPM less than the '91).
It seemed to shift rather firmly at first, but after a few hundred miles it seemed to adapt (as it should) to our driving habits). It shifts real smooth 99% of the time, but once in a blue moon, it clunks on the 2nd to 3rd shift if I happen to be rapidly backing out of the throttle that instant -- rare, but weird.
14.5 while towing the 2900 lb. trailer and 5 adults on board. This included a fair amount of mountain driving (on the gas, on the brakes, etc.) I just completed a mad-dash 2700 mile trip (no trailer) and average a remarkable 21.2 mpg for the entire trip. The car is rated 21 highway; something I didn't think attainable unless cruising at 55 to 65 mph all day. Most of my 2700 mile trip was between 75 and 82 mph! The last tank of gas resulted on 17.8 mph; all city. This compares very favorably with my old '91, which weighed about 300 lbs. less and had 55 less HP.
All in all, a very nice vehicle. Hope at lasts ten and half years like my last one.