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2008 Ford Explorer

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2008 Ford Explorer Review

A good choice for families who care more about safety features than power.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2008 Ford Explorer has its good points and its bad points. Overall, though, it's a great family vehicle that emphasizes safety. Perfect for long road trips, the Explorer offers a lot of interior space that lets passengers spread out for maximum comfort. Just don't bring a lot of luggage or camping gear with you, though; it has less cargo room than many other SUVs of its size.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 4.0-liter V-6 engine, 4.6-liter V-8 engine
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: Explorer XLT, Explorer Eddie Bauer, Explorer Limited

What's New

The 2008 Ford Explorer gets a few updates worth noting. Side curtain airbags are now standard on all trim levels. The Explorer also gets a new Sync system, which makes it easy to use hands-free devices of all types while driving. The navigation system, which is optional, now has voice activation. Twenty-inch rims are also optional for 2008 models.


The 2008 Ford Explorer doesn't look like anything special. It could just as easily be any other Ford SUV. In other words, it looks like an American-made SUV. It has a look suitable to what it is: a family-oriented SUV that gets the job done. It's not about looking fancy.


Roominess is a big draw for the 2008 Ford Explorer. Choose one with a third-row seat, and you can easily fit seven adults into the cab. By doing so, however, you’ll lose quite a bit of cargo space. The five-passenger version has 85.8 cubic feet of cargo space, but the seven-passenger version has 83.7 cubic feet. That's not a huge amount to lose, but 85.8 cubic feet isn't really that much to start with, especially in this vehicle class. Unfortunately, the second row can only recline in models that include a third row of seats.

The 2008 Explorer is also plagued with an interior that looks a little cheap compared to some of its competitors. The plastic controls certainly aren't going to win any beauty awards.

The Explorer does have some interior features worth touting. It comes standard with full power accessories, a stereo that plays CDs and MP3s, an auxiliary input jack, and air-conditioning. Move up to the Eddie Bauer version and you also get heated front seats, leather upholstery, and a faux-wood trim that doesn't look terrible. The top-of-the-line Limited model throws in dual-zone automatic climate control with a separate A/C for the rear and a power front seat with memory settings.

Performance & Handling

The 2008 Explorer's base engine is a four-liter V-6 that offers 210 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque. If more power is needed, buyers can choose a 4.6-liter, V-8 engine, which is available for all models. It offers 292 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, a considerable increase for those who need it.

No matter which engine drivers choose, though, they're not going to get a ton of pep. In zero-to-60-mph tests, even the V-8 takes nine seconds. That's significantly slower than the Pathfinder, which can complete the test in seven seconds.


The 2008 Ford Explorer has all of the safety features you would expect from a family-oriented vehicle, plus a few more. Standard features include anti-lock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags for first-row and second-row seats, and stability control. The Explorer's stability control system stands out as one of the vehicle's best safety features. Its Roll Stability Control uses a gyro sensor to determine whether a rollover is imminent. If it is, then it takes action to prevent the rollover.

The Explorer has earned top-notch scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which awarded it a five out of five stars for all frontal and side impact tests, and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, which gave the SUV its highest rating for frontal offset crashes.

This all adds up to an extremely safe vehicle that does its best to protect a family in all driving environments.

EPA Fuel Economy

Explorer: 14/20 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Good handling
  • Quiet, smooth ride
  • Spacious interior
  • Good safety features

You Won't Like

  • Weak engine options compared to competitors
  • Low resale value
  • Some interior materials seem cheap

Sum Up

A good choice for families who care more about safety features than power.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Nissan Pathfinder

See the New 2015 Explorer.

Front & Driver Side View