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2009 Ford Explorer

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2009 Ford Explorer Review

A traditional SUV offering decent off-road and towing capabilities.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2009 Ford Explorer is a midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) manufactured by Ford Motor Company. This vehicle can trace its roots back to 1990, when the first-generation Explorer was introduced to replace the Ford Bronco II. The Explorer played an important role in increasing the public’s interest in SUVs, making them one of the most popular segments of the automotive market. The 2009 Ford Explorer belongs to the fourth generation and debuted in 2006 with a new frame.

The Range

Body Styles: five-door SUV
Engines: 4.0-liter Cologne V-6, 4.6-liter 24-valve Modular V-8
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Models: XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited

What's New

The stability control system on the 2009 Ford Explorer is fitted with a new trailer-sway control feature. In addition to this change, the Explorer line also received a new trim: the XLT Sport trim level. The navigation system was updated with the Sirius Travel Link system. This new system provides the driver with gas prices of nearby stations, movie listings, sports scores, and current traffic conditions.


The 2009 Ford Explorer, in keeping with its truck underpinnings, has a conservatively styled exterior. All trim levels of the Explorer almost look the same. The only major changes that can be seen outside between trim levels is that the XLT features 16-inch alloy wheels and a four-bar chrome grille, while the Eddie Bauer and Limited versions feature a three-bar grille and 17-inch alloy wheels for the former, and 18-inch wheels for the latter. Overall, the 2009 Ford Explorer exterior is still stuck in its traditional styling, which might be appealing to some people.


The Ford Explorer suffered for a long time from a mediocre interior. The 2009 model year shows some improvements, but it remains the same. Ford’s improvements on the Explorer include trim rings around the instrument gauges and well-designed door handles. The two-tone color scheme also makes the interior better than before.

The third-row seats are spacious enough to fit two adults, but buyers need to be aware of the cargo space constraints that come along with a third row. The maximum cargo space offered is 83.7 cubic feet, and the third row does not fold flat completely. On the other hand, the Explorer without a third row offers a maximum cargo space of 85.8 cubic feet.

Performance & Handling

The 2009 Ford Explorer has a four-liter V-6 engine as standard. This engine delivers 210 hp of power and 254 lb-ft of torque. An optional 4.6-liter V-8 engine is also available and can deliver 292 hp of power and 315 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 engine is mated with a five-speed automatic gearbox, while the V-8 is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Irrespective of the engine or transmission choice, you can choose between two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive with different trim levels. The four-wheel drive uses a push-button transfer case, as well as a low gear setting so the SUV can negotiate slippery and low-speed conditions. The SUV’s maximum towing capacity, with all the right equipment, is 7300 pounds.

The 2009 Ford Explorer delivers decent performance figures, although it does not win against any of its rivals. The V-8 engine can propel a four-wheel-drive Explorer across the 60-mph mark from standstill within 9 seconds. A similarly equipped Nissan Pathfinder can time the zero-to-60-mph dash in 7 seconds.

Like its previous versions, the 2009 Ford Explorer offers a fun riding experience unlike any other truck-based SUV. This ride quality is, in large part, due to the rear independent suspension system that sticks the rear wheels on the ground even over rough roads. The steering is quite responsive for an SUV of its size, and the brakes are firm and fitted with a progressive pedal, inspiring maximum confidence in the driver. The V-6 engine is powerful enough for taking Explorer drivers on a joyride, but the V-8 adds even more excitement and refinement to the vehicle’s performance.


The 2009 Ford Explorer comes with some major safety features as standard. These features include second-row side-curtain airbags, first-row side-curtain airbags, front-seat side airbags, stability control, and anti-lock disc brakes. The stability control system in the Explorer also includes trailer sway and rollover sensing. The 2009 Ford Explorer has a full score in side- and frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the government. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Explorer earned the top rating of ""good.""

EPA Fuel Economy

2009 Ford Explorer V-6: 14/20 mpg city/highway
2009 Ford Explorer V-8: 15/21 mpg city/highway
2009 Ford Explorer V-6 4x4: 13/19 mpg city/highway
2009 Ford Explorer V-8 4x4: 14/19 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Decent ride quality
  • Good handling for a truck-based SUV
  • Quiet and spacious interior
  • Adequate towing capacity
  • Good safety scores

You Won't Like

  • Weak engine
  • Subpar materials used inside
  • Dated interior

Sum Up

A traditional SUV offering decent off-road and towing capabilities.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Chevrolet Trailblazer
  • Honda Pilot
  • Kia Borrego
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Toyota 4Runner

See the New 2015 Explorer.

Front & Driver Side View