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Ford Explorer

Ford Explorer (2002-2005)

4.4 from 14 reviews

See the Best Large / 7 Seater SUVs in 2019 as rated by Australians on ProductReview.com.au.

I've owned five Mercedes Benz - the Explorer is BETTER

Great driving position, comfort for up to 7 adults, brilliant long range cruiser, plenty of bells and whistles, air-conditioning and ventilation for ALL passengers and driver, with separate controls for rear seat passengers, all-round independent suspension in a go-anywhere vehicle. Very little engine or road noise in a well sound proofed cabin, plenty of grunt with a well-spaced ratio gearbox. Still relaxed after a 400+km drive with surprisingly good fuel economy. A very recent trip towing a 1.6T caravan resulted in 13.4L/100km in one direction, and 14L/100km on the return trip (uphill). This is on an untouched engine that has travelled more that 245,000km. Usual travel mixing country with city driving will achieve in the order of 11.7L/100km, with best economy being 9.8L/100km Regularly serviced from day one, all it's required has been one front lower ball joint and two rack and pinion steering rubber boots. Servicing has been at 10,000km as from the 135K mark, using only full synthetic oil. Gearbox was serviced at 150K and is due for another. After purchase of numerous expensive European vehicles over many years , I consider the Ford V8 Explorer to be head and shoulders above them all.

Date PurchasedMar 2011

They are not called Ford 'EXPLODERS' for NO reason !

I love my 2003 4.6ltr 'Exploder' ... is a smaller vehicle & more economical than my previous 100 series Cruiser V8.
Owning one of these in Australia can be EXPENSIVE if you cant do your own mechanical work or understand HOW to buy parts ex USA as buying things here locally is ridiculously expensive ! The auto gearboxes have a known issue that can be fixed cheaply if you can do your own mechanical work ... not many 'mechanics' here have much of an idea about them ... let alone taking it to a FORD dealer & getting wallet raped for having some snotty apprentice work on it who has NO idea anyway ???

If you can't do your own mechanical work this could be a VERY expensive car to own here in Australia. Since buying mine with 250K on the clock I have had to do mostly maintenance like park brake shoes, disc pads, rear wheel bearings plus replace the rattley torque convertor and timing chains / guides / tensioners ! Overall I find it a simple easy to work on vehicle and with the internet ... you can find ANY info or parts you need anyway !

Best cheap 'insurance' for the auto transmissions to live longer ... is to do as I have done & fit 'Magnefine' filter to the return line from the oil cooler + 1x on the return line to the power steering. These filter down to 2x micron so they help your transmission & power steering last with CLEAN fresh oil lubricating them !

Date PurchasedMar 2016

Great family 7-seater vehicle; about 30% more thirsty than a Falcon

We picked up a 2005 black 7-seater model imported from Japan with 75,000km on the clock. In great shape, handles really well.

It is a big heavy vehicle so don't expect a zippy experience. Car hesitates slightly before responding to accelerator. A NZD 500 Bluetooth CD radio stereo was thrown in by the dealer, this included a handsfree microphone for phone calls. Surprisingly handy.

The Row-B seats directly next to the rear doors on either side, are hinged so that they can be unlatched and moved out of the way so that those trying to get into Row-C can step through. In practice, I notice the children just lower the back of the middle Row-B seat and then climb over. They lower that one because we have child-seats buckled into the other Row-B seats.

On a Previa, Row-C access is provided by making the entire seat move forward on rails.

Wipers and indicators are on a stalk on the LHS of the steering column. Headlights and parking light controls are not on a stalk, they are on the RHS and below the dash.

The headlights can be set to automatically turn on and off depending on how much ambient light is available. Works pretty well and in several months, I haven't had to adjust it to a manual setting.

Driver's seat control is electric and located to the right below the seat.

Courtesy lights under the wing mirrors provide illumination so that you can place your feet when getting down from the vehicle in the dark. They turn off when you lock the car.

Separate cabin lights for each row mean that passengers can read at night while the car is moving. Each row gets their own climate vents and controls.

On our model, there is provision for a video unit to be installed to allow passengers in Rows B and C to watch movies.

Lots of plastic trim that is exposed to sunlight so applying Armor-All will be part of the weekly car maintenance regime. Kids love it and think they've joined the US President's Secret Service detail. ;-)

Rear camera aids parallel parking and checking for anyone obstructing the car while backing. Be careful you don't knock it off while washing the car.

Rear vision mirror has an automatic and electronic dimmer that stops headlight glare from following vehicles.

We have the 4L V6 engine. It takes Premium 95 Octane petrol: We are getting about 5.7km/l or about 17.5l/100km. Mostly around town.

Might be the novelty but the children don't like riding in the Falcon anymore. :-)

Date PurchasedJan 2017

my v8 explorer is just great we dont have many here in Australia but i have owned a few so has one o

My ford explorer is just great heaps of power very comphy plenty of room great for long distance very good on fuel mine is a v8 ido around 320kms on $20 we have long distance between towns my daughter and son own one and they are both very happy wether they are 5 seater or 7seater ther is heaps of room they handle really well on our roads as here in Australia our roads are not good but the explorer does well i love it


8000 kilometers in a rental Explorer

I have recently driven a Ford Explorer around South Eastern USA. The vehicle handled most things well, averaged low 9 l/100ks the gearing off the mark is probably a little high and you do need to bury the boot to get it moving swiftly. Good vision all round assisted by the reversing camera and multi pane external rear view mirrors. The heated seats were wonderful in the sub zero climate and comfortable for long days driving. The Sync radio was useful, however the volume steps through settings and sometimes the steps just couldn't get the required volume, too high or too low is a little annoying. The USB and Bluetooth connectivity were excellent and easy to use, the rear seats folded flat very easily (manual seats fitted) however for me a five seater would have been more practical. (luggage area larger without seats). All round a good looking vehicle, the doors go to the bottom of the sill so you don't get dirt on your clothing getting in or out of a dirty vehicle, perfect for touring and I would recommend it for this job.
Vision, fuel economy for a large all wheel drive, comfort, on road stability, clean entry over sills,
radio volume controls, the no "real position" indicator wand, no engine temperature guage


2003 Limited V8

I bought this vehicle as an upgrade from the 2000 V6 Exploder! Can't be happier! This unit tows a caravan as well as bush bashing and being used everyday. Tyre wear very good as is reliability. Lots of accessories available from US that keeps it looking modern. Still a head turner at 10+ years old! Not for sale!
Driving comfort for driver and passengers.
No longer produced!


Great base to play with on a budget

Had a 97 and just got a 2002 v6. Got it for $5000 in average condition and for under $3000 gave it a 1 inch lift, spotties and two way fitted, everything fixed on it and new rims and tyres gaining another 2inches in lift. It had been modded and pod filter fitted and a full Sony exploded sterio fitted. I took the 3 seats in the back out and for $200 and some tools made myself a flat rubber tray in the back that frees up a lot of room. Is it a landcruiser or a patrol. No and nor should you comparison it at that price. $8000 and I have taken it on a 5000km road trip with 1000kms of dirt and never skipped a beat. Best bang for my buck I have ever spent. Is it firstly? It is. My work land cruiser used to get 450kms off a tank, this gets 550-600 and with the money I saved on it I'm happy with it. Definitely get the manual if you can find it. I did and definitely the better option as removes the gear box issues some have.
Cheap, very room as I'm well over 6 ft. Decent interior for the year and a very solid feel.
Getting parts can be a hassle but importing is more viable then ever with eBay.



We bought our new ford explorer after being happy with the previous 6 cylinder model. Straight away we noticed the difference between the two cars in that the older model explorer was a bit like driving a rocky boat at times and was sloppy in the suspension, but the new explorer seems to hold alot firmer to the road and around corners. I love the traction control and find this car incredibly safe. I am a women driver and this car does not feel too big to drive or park. Love my V8!!!!
The room of a 7 seater. A good car for larger people and larger families. Traction control. Beautiful V8 engine.
Original muffler really was not efficient. We had it changes and not only does it sound excellent now but goes even better!!


Very impressive vehicle overall, considerably moreso than the Jap equivalents regardless of age. I'd put off owning such a car for many years in the belief that I didn't require one for the driving I did, but I realised that I've been missing out on a lot of fun. I bought my 2003 UX V8 with 147k on the clock with full log books and did comprehensive searches on it's history before purchase. There had been no issues with the vehicle apart from a couple of broken wheel studs, a common occurrence I was told, and it presented beautifully both inside and outside. The economy is quite amazing considering the bulk of the car. I'd expected 17-18 litres per 100km around town, with a corresponding reduction for country running, but travelling at 100kmph, I achieve less than 12 litres per 100, quite amazing. This, of course, is the figure that the on-board computer tells me, but it's confirmed at the petrol pump. I consider it most important that a proper maintenance regime be carried out and to this end, a full auto transmission service at 150k was deemed necessary, together with a a replacement serpentine belt. Unfortunately, Ford Australia's pricing structure is almost out of the reach of the average driver, thus servicing is entrusted to qualified mechanics who carry out the same work for approximately a third of Ford's price. Likewise parts can be sourced from America and even with postage, result in a 50% saving. An instance is a Ford centre plastic wheel cap - locally $47, overseas $13 or less, plus postage. Be aware of Ford's overpricing when you consider the purchase of an Explorer
Excellent driving position, all controls come easy to hand, aircon excellent, very fast to cool. Seating well moulded and comfortable on long trips, plenty of adjustments available. Tremendously good looking vehicle, appears smaller than some Jap machinery, but is in fact roomier. Surprisingly economical for a 4.6 litre - around 11 litres per 100km on highway travelling at 100 kmph, 13+ per 100 locally in our country town area. Wonderfully small turning circle, almost unbelievable in a 4 wheel drive vehicle weighing around two tons.
Fiddly cruise control, too many buttons as compared with the stalk control on my Benz. Computer read-out too small and awkward to read in daylight. Somewhat of a stiff ride unless carrying passengers, although quite acceptable.


We have the 2002 limited model. Bought it new, currently there is 185km on the clock. Would love to know if it can be converted to LGP have had difering opinions.
the v8 is a pleasure to drive around town. Plenty of room with the third row seats. excellent towing vehicle cant fault it.
Engine is alittle thirsty, some of the parts (waterpump) are expensive, fairly low resale value. Low ground clearance makes it difficult off road.



We wanted a functional 7 seat AWD with all the features. Very happy to say this is just what we got.
We actually have the Limited model with the 4.6L V8, which is optional in the XLT. Ours is a 2004 model but we didn't take delivery of it (as a demonstrater) until mid 2005.So far it's been a great car. Very comfortable with everything that opens and shuts. Have also taken it offroad where it performed very well.The things that attracted us to it most were the value for money (compared with the Prado Grande and VX, Landcruiser, Pajero Exceed, Discovery 3) and the 7 seat arrangement, which was easier to use and more functional than the similar feature in the Toyotas, Mitsubishis and other softroaders such as the Kluger and Territory. For example, only the Explorer has 2nd and 3rd row airconditioning vents (in the Limited these are independent from the main dual zone a/c unit up front). The Explorer also rides a little lower than the Prado and the Pajero, which suited my wife when it came to strapping in the kids etc.So far as kids in kid seats are concerned, there are mounting points everywhere, for all 5 2nd and 3rd row seating positions. You won't find this in the Honda Odyssey, which is a lot less practical in this respect. (In the Honda you also won't find a lap sash seat belt in the middle second row, but it's there in the Explorer!).Also very happy with all the safety features, particularly Control-Trac auto 4WD, the side airbags, ABS and EBD brakes.
The V8 is not the most economical engine in the world, but it isn't too bad. Around town we are getting between 19 to 22L/100km, which is about what Territory drivers are getting in the 6cyl Ford. On the highway it comes in at around 12 to 13L/100km, more if you are towing something.If you are interested in the Explorer, wait for the 2006 model which they will start building in the US around September 2005 and which will have a few improvements over the current model, including a 6sp auto transmission. Check with the dealers as to availability, or try and get a better price on the current UZ model.



Great motor car, I am glad I own the two Explorers I have.
A bit more about the gas conversions. If you go with liquid injection you are limited to what size do-nut tank they can get in the spare wheel well, which will give you about 400km. If you need to go further like 500-600k before refills then you will have to consider going with vapour injection where they can then fit two tanks. You cannot fit two tanks on liquid injection. You would be looking at $6000 to get this sort of conversion.
The second tank(s) can go above the donut using up the jack and tool space, or cut the petrol tank down to 30 Litres and use that space.
V6 vs V8? well if you want power, go for the v8, otherwise the v6 if you got younger members of the family that may share the driving.
Explorer v8 vs V6

I own two Explorers now, a 2003 v8 and a 2005 v6. South Australia has made a Law that young drivers are now unable to drive v8 unless an excemption is approved. However the Car insurance company I use (RAA) will not insure a v8 driven by young drivers is what made me buy a v6. ( I have a 16 year old)

The v8 torque is great at the traffic lights, with 20% throttle, it revs lightly through the gears to 60kmh and leaves most cars 10 car lengths behind. The v6 would be one of the cars left behind. The v8 generally uses 1 litre of petrol per 100km more than the v6 does, doesnt matter if its cruising, towing or whatever, the fuel consumption are close but the v8 will use a bit more. This equates to about %1.40 extra per 100km. The V6 is a powerfull car and can easily tow a caravan at 100kmh. The v8 slightly better. The Explorer rev range is excellent for towing. The five speed auto is selected to 4th gear for towing and both cars do about 2600 RPM at 100kmh in 4th gear. You could cruise all day at that rev. Excellent tow vehicle.
Both the v6 and v8 are poor fuel consumption vehicles, however you have to be aware what you are comparing them to. They are two tonne vehicles and not family sedans. About the only thing you could compare them to are a petrol Pajero and Prado, but both of these are thousands more.

An interesting fact i have learnt is that large diameter tyres than original causes the fuel consumption to be worse. I have at my availability 4 x Cooper Discovery ATR 265/70 tyres that are 803mm diameter where as the original 245/65 tyres are 750mm diameter. The ATR's do lift the vehicle which is great, but at expense of fuel, The big tyres are better suited for the v8. Its these tyres that make the v8 launch off the traffic lights with just a little throttle. Both the v6 and v6 will tow ok with the bigger tyres, but at the expense of more fuel and the speedo will read slow. If you want to put bigger tyres I would settle for 265/65 rather than 265/70.

The gas conversion that I proposed in a previous post has not occurred yet. The v8 was booked in but I cancelled it when i found out about the young driver problems. There is some difficulty in finding anyone to do an explorer. Being an ammerican car, no one makes gas kits for them, you have to find someone willing to "improvise".

I Want to buy a Ford Explorer 2002, it has 135K millage on the clock. used from Japan. Can some one advice me?If it's a V8, yes, if it's a V6, no!


We bought our Explorer in 2002 and are still driving it. We love the vehicle - it has had very few problems and definitely no transmission problems that other people mentioned, although we have only done about 63000km. It is somewhat heavy on fuel, but makes up for it with a very comfortable drive and spacious feeling interior. It has been fantastic when we have overseas visitors staying with us and we go away for a weekend - it holds heaps of luggage and is comfortable to handle a long drive with 5 in the car.
Very comfortable seats. Spacious
Somewhat heavy on fuel


We would not have bought it if we had googled about hundreds of dissatisfied customers with bad transmission in USA.Ford has no answer to these. Territory owners be Ware!!!
We needed a 7 seater with actual off road capability The Explorer is the only 4WD we looked at (Prado, Pajero and Landcruiser) that can actually seat an adult in the 3rd row comfortably). It drive beautifully on the road, very car like. In fact it is like driving a normal station wagon.
Bad transmission hsistory

1 comment
has your transmission failed?

Questions & Answers

my partner owns a 2004v8 explorer i have looked in all the logical places to find the obd plug with no luck .I was only able to find a two wire 6 pin plug under the steering wheel .The car will not start. No earth at starter relay,if i supply earth car will crank but will not fire no supply to fuel pump relay.I suspect faulty chip in key but without obd plug i am unable to check fault codes any help would be apreciated
1 answer
Left hand side of the steering column, and about 150mm in from the dash face. There's no cover, just plug in. Good fortune with the analysis Dan, they're a beautiful car, I had mine for 8 years and it's the BEST driving car I've had in 62 years of licenced driving, sold her to an appreciative new owner who loves her as much as I did

I have a 2003 ford explore limited edition v8 not starting. The key in turn to start all lights come on and nothing turns. Checked battery all good new terminals,did shortcut to starter motor turns over but won’t start. Any advise on this problem?
6 answers
Do the lights dim at all when you turn the key, if not check that the ignition wire to the starter motor to see if it's connected? It's a small wire, not the heavy starter cable. If that's off, no start. If it's still connected, check it for a break with a multimeter. It would be unusual for the ignition unit itself to be faulty.Hey ... it sounds like a problem with the PATS (passive anti theft system) NOT recognising the chip in the key. Do you have more than one key for the vehicle ? I would try a second key & see if it makes any difference. If the blinking red light on top of the dash doesn't go out after a few seconds when you turn the key on ... then I think the PATS is not allowing the vehicle to start. If your second key allows the vehicle to start then that would confirm the problem is the key not being recognised. You can do an onboard key addition if you have two working keys that are not clones but have their own individual chip. Try turning the ignition on & off 8x times finishing in the run position ... the door locks should cycle, the indicators flash & the horn chirp indicating the system is in learn mode. Turn the key off & replace with second key turn to run then off ... see if that then gets the PATS to recognise both keys. If you don't have a second key then you can't do the above & will need the help of a locksmith with programming tools. I used a free program called Forscan on my laptop with a WiFi OBD2 adaptor to delete all known keys and add the new transponder key that I had cut to suit the ignition barrel plus the existing one that came with the vehicle. Hope this helps in getting your Exploder running again :-)hi There I have turned the key on and the flashing light switches of immediately but still no start .when I do turn the key to start underneath the consul by the handbrake it makes a clicking sound for each time I turn the key it clicks .so not sure if that’s the problem.have got new battery and new terminals to .Thanks for responding on my last question.Dean

can I fit a motor from a manual ford explorer to a auto ford explorer?
1 answer
I don't believe that there's any difference in the engines, so I'd say yes, but I wasn't aware that any manual geared Explorers were imported into Australia for the 2002 to 2005 cars. Best if you log into Ford Explorer Forum and asked your question there


Ford Explorer (2002-2005)
CategoryLarge / 7 Seater SUVs
Release dateJan 2002
Discontinuation dateDec 2005

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