UT, UX and UZ Explorers vs UP Explorer - suspension and chasis changes
I currently have a 1998 UP Explorer XT (manual 4.0L OHV V6, bottom of the range model), it's been a good value for money vehicle, and I've generally been happy with it, and recently surprised by it's 4WD capabilities.
It's my family's spare car and it's real main usage is for towing and launching the boat.
Looking to upgrade now however, as would like to do some traveling and a larger 4WD wagon would be prefered. Currently looking at the UT, UX and UZ Explorers as these were the last models imported into Australia, and looking specifically only at the V8 Limited models as I want the luxury interior and the extra performance power.
What I'm chasing is information regarding the significant chasis and suspension changes from second generation Explorer (e.g. the UP that I currently have) to the third generation (the UT, UX and UZ's that I'm looking at).
From what I understand with the third generation the chasis is no longer shared with the Ford Ranger, and has changed from live-axel to independent rear suspension. Is the front suspension still torsion bars or is it now coil springs all around? Is this suspension more orientated for on the road performance rather than off road? Any improvements or negatives that the new suspension setup causes for off road driving?
What about the vehicles ground clearance? It looks as though this has been reduced, however, that might just be a visual illusion from the larger chunkier looking body as I believe it's not larger wheels (16") as oppposed to the old 15". If it is lower I guess a set of riased coil springs isn't too hard to install.
Is there still bash plates under the vehicle to protect the components?
Any changes in the 4WD system (from what I understand the Limited models have a factory standard LSD in the rear were my UP XT doesn't, so that should be an improvement to it's capabilities)?