The 2004 Ford Explorer represents Ford’s best-selling midsize SUV in the U.S. It offers a third-row seat, giving it a seating capacity of seven passengers. Rear drive comes standard on the 2004 Ford Explorer but drivers can opt for ControlTrac four-wheel drive. ControlTrac gives you the option of keeping the four-wheel drive engaged at all times, even on dry pavement. You can also get the optional all-wheel drive without the low-range gearing.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Ford Explorer XLS, Ford Explorer XLS Sport, Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer, Ford Explorer Limited
For 2004, drivers no longer have to get the optional third-row seat in order to receive rear air-conditioning. All models come equipped with AdvanceTrac electronic stability control. The Eddie Bauer offers optional second-row bucket seats if combined with the third-row seat option.
The 2004 Ford Explorer measures 72.1 inches wide, 71.4 inches tall, and 189.5 inches long. It sits on a wheelbase of 113.8 inches and clears the ground by 8.5 inches, which gives it a fair chance at off-roading. The Explorer rolls on 16-inch steel wheels and all-season tires. The full-size spare tire mounts under the body of the Explorer.
The XLS comes in eight exterior colors. Standard features include a manual flip-up liftgate window on the liftgate door, intermittent wipers, privacy glass, a rear defogger, an intermittent rear wiper, cargo tie-downs, a trailer hitch and trailer wiring, and a roof rack.
The 2004 Ford Explorer XLS comes with cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, folding rear seatbacks, and a tilt steering wheel. It also includes air-conditioning and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo. The XLT adds a six-way power driver’s seat, premium cloth upholstery, bucket front seats, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel with cruise controls, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with a six-disc CD changer. The Limited features leather upholstery, a split-folding rear seatback, a tilt steering wheel wrapped in leather with built-in cruise control, and an electrochromatic rear-view mirror.
The controls look easy to read and well-placed. The gear shift lever seems quite long and it obstructs some of the controls on the dashboard. The climate control system does not allow you to independently control the air circulation or the air-conditioning. Good-quality materials improve the interior, but the overall design looks bland. The cabin feels comfortable and roomy. It has a high step-in to enter and exit the vehicle. The seats feel supportive and comfortable, including the rear center seat. Cargo room seems generous and allows for the transportation of gear for the entire family.
Performance & Handling
The Ford Explorer uses a standard 2.0-liter, dual overhead cam (DOHC), four-cylinder engine that produces 127 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque with a four-speed manual transmission. The suspension system consists of a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multilink rear suspension. The optional 3.0-liter, DOHC V-6 only remains available for the XLT and Limited. This engine produces 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. All models of the 2004 Ford Explorer use front drive, but you can get the optional all-wheel drive with the mechanical center differential and center locking differential.
The 2.0-liter engine feels underpowered, but the V-6 engine supplies plenty of power for highway passing and acceleration. It completes a zero to 60 mph sprint in 8.9 seconds. Steering feels accurate and has good balance, and the Explorer grips the road well. The brakes display good stopping power, but the nose dips prominently in panic stops. Wind and tire noise sounds excessive and annoying.
Standard safety equipment for the 2004 Ford Explorer includes child seat anchors, ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes, an engine immobilizer, and automatic delay-off headlights. Side-curtain airbags remain optional on the XLS and XLT, but come standard on the Limited. The XLT trim adds fog lights and electronic brake force distribution. The Limited adds an anti-theft alarm system and front head-protection chambers for the driver and front passenger.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Association gives the 2004 Ford Explorer five out of five stars for frontal and side crash protection for the driver and front passenger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards this car a ""Marginal"" rating for frontal-offset protection and a ""Poor"" rating for side-impact protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Ford Explorer 4.0-liter V-6, two-wheel drive: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Ford Explorer 4.6-liter V-8, two-wheel drive: 13/18 mpg city/highway
Ford Explorer 4.0-liter V-6, four-wheel drive: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Ford Explorer 4.6-liter V-8, four-wheel drive: 13/18 mpg city/highway
- Powerful V-6
- Plenty of cargo space
- Comfortable interior
- Carlike handling
- Plenty of passenger room
You Won't Like
- Weak standard four-cylinder
- Small gas tank
- Noisy base engine
- Plain interior design
Handles like a car but looks like an SUV.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Mazda Tribute
- Jeep Wrangler
- Hyundai Tucson
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