What Changed for 2009:
- Standard Trailer Sway Control system added
- Sport package added to XLT trim level
- Next-generation navigation system available with Sirius Travel Link
- 20-inch wheels are now optional
The Ford Explorer is an American icon sport utility vehicle (SUV), and was once the best-selling midsize SUV in North America. Introduced in 1990 as a replacement for the Ford Bronco II, the Explorer was given a major redesign in 2002 and a freshening in 2006. The 2009 midsize Explorer retains its body-on-frame chassis, which contributes to its 1520-pound payload capability and 7310-pound maximum towing capacity. This rugged utility vehicle's platform also forms the underpinnings of stablemate Mercury Mountaineer. Whether configured with the standard V-6 engine (manufactured in Cologne, Germany) or the V-8 powerplant (built at Ford's engine plant in Romeo, Michigan), all models of the Explorer are offered with a choice of rear- or 4-wheel drive (RWD or 4WD) powertrains. The midsize Explorer can seat up to 7 passengers with the addition of an available third-row seat (with an optional power-fold feature). With the rear seats down, the Explorer has 85.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
The 2009 Ford Explorer is available in three trim levels: XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited. Each is offered with a choice between RWD or 4WD. Standard equipment on the XLT includes air conditioning; cloth upholstery; 6-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment; second-row split-folding seat; rear cargo-management system; AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack; cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; vehicle information center; roof rails; Class II trailer towing hitch; fog lamps; leather-wrapped steering wheel; and P235/70R16 tires on alloy wheels. The XLT Sport package features Charcoal Black cloth seats; white instrument cluster; all-weather floor mats; black accent wheel lops; exterior step bar; and special fascia. The Sport package also includes the following paint colors: Sport Blue, Colorado Red, Brilliant Silver and Black.
Ford's higher-end Eddie Bauer model, which is based on accessories and a look created with Washington-based sports clothing store Eddie Bauer, adds leather seats; 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat; keypad entry; auto-dimming rearview mirror; automatic headlights; running boards; Ford Sync communications and entertainment system; and P245/65R17 tires. The top-line Limited model has rear park assist; heated front seats; power-adjustable pedals; memory for the driver's seat and pedals; 6-way power-adjustable front passenger seat; third-row split-folding seat; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated mirrors; 290-watt Audiophile sound system with 6-disc CD changer; steering wheel audio controls; and P235/65R18 tires. Options include a navigation system with voice activation; Sirius satellite radio; power-folding third-row seat; second-row bucket seats; universal garage door opener; rear DVD entertainment system; power-retracting running boards; and a sunroof.
The 2009 Ford Explorer comes with two engine choices. The standard 4.0-liter V-6 engine produces 210 hp and 254 lb.-ft. of torque when mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, V-6 models can tow up to 5390 pounds. The optional engine is a dual-overhead-cam 4.6-liter V-8 with 3 valves per cylinder that generates 292 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The larger V-8 engine is coupeed to a 6-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2009 Explorer powered by the V-6 engine are 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway for RWD and 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway with 4WD. The 8-cylinder version with RWD is estimated at 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway, while the 4WD model with the V-8 earned EPA fuel-economy ratings of 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway.
The big news for 2009 is the addition of the standard Trailer Sway Control system. The system is designed to assist the driver in regaining stability if a towed trailer begins to oscillate out of control. The feature works with Ford's traction control and electronic stability control with roll control systems. Ford Explorer's other standard safety equipment includes: dual front air bags; torso-protecting front side air bags; first- and second-row head-protecting curtain side air bags with rollover deployment; tire-pressure monitor; and ABS. Rear Park Assist is standard on the Limited and optional otherwise.
In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2009 Ford Explorer earned 5 stars for the driver and front passenger in the front-impact test (the agency's highest rating) and 5 stars for protection of front- and rear-seat passengers in the side-impact test. Explorer received 3 stars in rollover tests. Although Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings were not available on the 2009 Explorer, ratings for the 2008 model were \"Good\" (the Institute's highest rating) in frontal offset tests and \"Acceptable\" in side-impact tests.
In addition to offering the Ford Sync communication and entertainment system that provides a hands-free link to cell phones and MP3 players through a series of voice commands, the 2009 Explorer offers a voice-activated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link. The next-generation navigation system and software allows the driver to access up-to-the-minute traffic information in any of 78 markets. The system also provides information on current gas prices from an estimated 120,000 service stations and offers weather conditions, sports scores and other listings.