By KBB.com Editors
Despite the recent downturn in SUV sales, a somewhat aging platform and less-than-stellar fuel economy, the 2008 Ford Explorer continues to sell strongly. Powerful owner loyalty, a reasonable size and the option of a potent V8 engine all contribute to the Explorer's success, and it makes a great choice for families looking to get away from a full-sized SUV, as well as for those who need the ground clearance and four-wheel-drive capability that only a body-on-frame SUV can provide. Although the Explorer has plenty of newer competition, both domestic and foreign, few offer the combination of an attractive price, three-row seating, a powerful V8 engine and the Explorer's 7,300-pound tow rating.
Whether you're drawn to the 2008 Ford Explorer for its truck-like towing and cargo-hauling capabilities or its minivan-like versatility, you'll find more of what you're looking for in the latest incarnation of this quintessential SUV.
Although the 2008 Ford Explorer succeeds in being both smoother and more responsive than any previous model, it still drives like a big, truck-based SUV when compared to a select few of its competitors, many of which deliver almost sedan-like ride and handling.
New for 2008 are the Sync hands-free communication and entertainment system, voice-activated navigation and capless fuel-filling system. Ford's Safety Canopy side-curtain airbag system is now standard on all models.
Driving Impressions Thanks to a sturdy frame and revised suspension, the 2008 Ford Explorer is noticeably smoother and more stable out on the highway than past versions. It's also quieter, making for...easy conversation between occupants in separate rows. Moreover, the Explorer is more responsive around town and, when equipped with the V8 and six-speed automatic transmission, is the most powerful model yet, although we found the V6 had more than enough output to meet our daily-driver demands. While both ride and handling are improved all around, the balance remains very much in favor of comfort, with handling characteristics that fall short of more car-like competitors, such as the Nissan Pathfinder.
Power-Folding Third Row
Not only do the two rear rows fold almost perfectly flat, but the third row is available with a power folding option that makes it easy to transform the Explorer from people-mover to cargo-hauler and back at the push of a button.
Interior Peace and Quiet
Considering its vast interior volume and all the opportunities that exist for outside noise to creep inside, the 2008 Ford Explorer is impressively, refreshingly quiet.
Completely redesigned in 2006, for 2008 the Explorer's interior sports more angular styling along with several new features. One of the more tangible changes is the move of the shifter from the steering column to the floor. Front-row seats slide on inch-longer seat tracks to accommodate a wider range of occupant heights, the second row is available in three seating configurations and the third row offers a power folding feature. In addition, both rear rows of seats now fold almost completely flat (just two degrees from horizontal), so cargo is more likely to stay in place. The only functional sore spot we noted was the awkward placement of the front inside door handles.Exterior
The 2008 Ford Explorer remains a very obvious descendant of the first Explorer that materialized some 17 years ago and revolutionized the industry. The biggest and most obvious change is up front, with two grilles---each assigned to a particular trim level---inspired by Ford's F-150 pickup. Distinguishing this generation from the last is probably most difficult from the side, but look closely and you'll find thicker roof rails, larger and more distinct wheels and bigger side mirrors. Out back, new taillights and a big nine-inch blue Ford oval further differentiate the new model from its predecessors.
Standard equipment on a base-level Explorer XLT includes a 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic transmission, two-wheel drive, power windows/locks/mirrors, remote keyless entry, AM/FM stereo with MP3-compatible CD player, air conditioning, cruise control, AdvanceTrac electronic stability control with RSC (Roll Stability Control), 16-inch painted aluminum wheels, cloth bucket seats with driver-side manual lumbar support, tire pressure monitoring system, digital compass, outside temperature indicator and front, side-impact and two-row side-curtain airbags.
Trim-level, package and stand-alone options include a 4.6-liter V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, third-row seat, leather seats, woodgrain interior accents, voice-activated navigation system, DVD rear-seat entertainment system, premium sound system with six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, auxiliary rear climate control, reverse sensing system, glass sunroof, six- or 10-way power driver's seat, six-way power passenger's seat, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, adjustable pedals, driver-position memory, power-folding third-row seat, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, electrochromic rearview mirror, entry keypad, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, trip computer and 17-, 18- and 20-inch wheels.
The revised 4.0-liter V6 engine delivers decent mileage and, according to Ford, produces fewer emissions than the previous-generation V6 Explorers. The 24-valve V8 delivers a marked increase in horsepower, along with increases in maximum towing and payload capacities, to 7,300 and 1,520 pounds, respectively.
210 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
254 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/19 (4WD)
292 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/20 (2WD), 13/19 (4WD)
By GG on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,555overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "I have already recommended it"
Cons: "No cons"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this vehicle two years ago used in excellent condition. I love everything about it. I am a single sixty year old grandmother of one and it is perfect to carry stroller and have car seat, lay the back down or pull up and use all three rows of seating. Great for everyday and on trips!! I think the pricing listed is too low for this vehicle and its popularity."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Sheree on Friday, September 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 126,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Ford began making this vehicle different and it is a very expensive car to maintain. They put a belt on the front of the motor and the belt on the back of the motor so to do any head work you have to remove the entire engine! I have put 4 new tires on this car this year, new brakes, had to rebuild the transmission at 120,000 miles, and now I need a new radiator and head work which is going to cost $3500! I would recommend "exploring" other options before purchasing this vehicle. Do not buy any 5.4L fords!"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Bre on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, but not a good transmission"
Cons: "Transmission is no good. Ford need to improve it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"The transmission on this truck is 100% no good. Food needs to fix this problem. I spend well over $2000 plus $700 labour to install a use transmission. Only because i wasnt ready to get a new vehicle. Because of this, i will not recommend this vehicle. My advice, before you buy a vehicle read the reviews. After i replace the trany, then i saw the reviews about the trany....not good at all"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Scarecoupe on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ford even thinks about the size of the cup holders"
Cons: "You need to replace all 4 tires at the same time"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my second explorer, previous was a 1997 XLT with 5.0 V8. It also was exceptional - it is why I purchased another one. I recently had to replace a catalytic converter and one wheel bearing. I am still on my second set of Michelin tires with maybe 50% wear. Car still looks and drives like new."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Suburban Dweller on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,600overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Navigation, Bluetooth, sheer size of the thing"
Cons: "Gas mileage, heavy steering"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I have owned my Explorer for 4 1/2 years, bought new in March 2010 for $42k. I traded up to my Explorer Limited from a 2003 Explorer XLT, for which we traded in a '97 Explorer Eddie Bauer. Clearly, we are faithful to this wonderful car. Pros: As a mother of two teenage athletes, the Explorer's capabilities have never failed to impress me. The power-folding 3rd row seat is an awesome feature and definitely one of my favorite features. My top two favorites are the Bluetooth and Navigation systems. The Bluetooth allows me to talk on the phone, and the GPS helps me get to unknown destinations or sporting events, whatever the day calls for. When it comes time to carpool or drive kids to dinner for a birthday party, this car does the job perfectly. Cons: Fuel efficiency — more like fuel deficiency. I normally get 10-13MPG in my V6 4WD model. I definitely regret not getting the V8, which I've heard is much smoother and has a much better transmission. The lack of power liftgate or backup camera is also a big downside to me. My last complaint would have to be the heavy steering. I had a hand injury 2 years ago, which has made low speed maneuvers in this car a little more difficult. Otherwise, this is a fantastic car! I have 8 months of payments left, which is when I will sadly have to trade this car in for something more fuel efficient."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Kris on Monday, July 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "I love everything about it"
Cons: "None for me"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Not only is my white 2008 Ford Explorer a great looking vehicle, it comes with loads of extras. Running boards that fold out when a door is opened is most people's favorite option. I also love the remote start. I work on the 10th floor of my building and park below my window. I can start my car from there. By the time I get down it's cool in the summer or warm in the winter. I love that it's a V8 and a little sad that Ford stop making V8s after that. After 67k miles I am proud to say I never had an issue with the truck."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful