By KBB.com Editors
Despite the recent downturn in SUV sales, a somewhat aging platform and less-than-stellar fuel economy, the 2009 Ford Explorer continues to populate Ford showrooms. Powerful owner loyalty, a reasonable size and the option of a potent V8 engine all contribute to the Explorer's appeal, 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 2009 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 2009 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.
Trailer Sway Control is added to the Explorer's AdvanceTrac stability system. New optional features include the next-generation navigation system with SIRIUS Travel Link and a new XLT Sports Package.
Driving Impressions Thanks to a sturdy frame and recently revised suspension, the 2009 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 2009 Ford Explorer is impressively, refreshingly quiet.
The 2009 Explorer's interior sports traditional Ford angular styling along with a few new interior options. Front-row seats feature extended seat tracks to better accommodate a wider range of occupant heights, while 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 2009 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. Around back, large taillights and a big nine-inch blue Ford oval further differentiate the new model from previous Explorers.
Standard equipment on a base-level Explorer XLT includes a 4.0-liter V6, five-speed automatic transmission, two-wheel drive, power windows, locks and 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 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
315 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)
By Blondie on Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "the hand grab on passenger side should be higher."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned a 2002, 2005 and this 2010. I would be interested in purchasing another one in the near future. I do wish they came in a light to medium blue color."
By Top Tiger 67 on Sunday, December 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,479overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, nice looking and handling car"
Cons: "No room for big people, MPG could be better."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought this car new for the wife, she likes it for her. I am tall, heavy set with major back problems and there is not enough room for me to driver or ride comfortable. Road noise is louder then my pickup and also a rougher ride. Car has been reliable, handles and drives great in ice and snow conditions. MPG overall is 18. Have had no problems with power train, motor, or interior items."
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By lou on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 83,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "spacious, reliable, easy to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have never had any problems with my 08 Explorer Eddie Bauer. It has run great since I bought it certified 3 years ago. It is spacious and pretty luxurious for an older SUV. An all around great truck, if the new Explorers weren't priced like Cadillac SUV's I just might give one of them a go."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Chris on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 94,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, Reliable, Quiet, Convinient"
Cons: "Not the best transmission"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have to say, this truck is the best vehicle I've owned. My only complaint about this truck is the shifting. It's 2010 and I'd expect to be a lot smoother than what I had on my 00 Accord. It's not that it's hard shifting or clunking. It might also be due to my last car being a manual so I took care of all the shifting. It is extremely comfortable I must say. I have the base model and still get to enjoy comfort which goes a long way. The 4x4 setting is phenomenal. No clunking or hearing any noises when changing the drivetrain. It drives in the snow as if driving on a dry road."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By OGeorge on Saturday, December 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 81,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable. Roomy. Comfortable."
Cons: "Design is not up to my older 68 Explorer"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Use it for everything...travel, golf outings, local driving. Do maintenance every 5 K (oil, ect.) I had to replace tires at 42000 and that has been the only major expense. Interior is not as good as my previous Explorer-headliner coming loose over the front windows, no cargo net and those crazy door openers. Overall tho it has been and is a great car."
4 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Dave on Sunday, November 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 142,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great 4 by 4"
Cons: "Not reliable same part break over and over again"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This vehicle was purchased with 60K on its and its has had so many repairs including a new tranny that is now leaking once again after 15K miles. Its definitely a Fix or Repair Daily aka FORD. Haven't owned a Ford since 1995 when I bought this one for the same reason lots of repair and a car that self destructed. When the Explorer is running its great, but even the shops around nickname this model as an Exploder!"
6 people out of 14 found this review helpful