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3rd Generation Shopper... but which one?

NJExplorerFan

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Year, Model & Trim Level
2015 Limited
Ok, so I started shopping around for a 3rd generation Explorer. The question now remains... which one? I've read lots on the Forum to stay away from the 2002's to be safe. So, what year do I start shopping? In my budget, best I can afford now (as a 2nd vehicle to my Mustang) is a 2003 or 2004 model with 80 - 100K miles on it. I test drove a 2004 recently and I have to say... it's pretty damn slow! Maybe I'm just used to my Mustang's power. It does not have good pickup at all. Actually felt very similar to my 2nd generation SOHC V6 I'm selling. And, the ride wasn't that much smoother with the IRS. Should I opt for a v8? Is there a huge difference in gas mileage? I hear only 1-2 mpg's, but the horsepower numbers doesn't seem that much higher on paper. And, what years should I focus on? I like the XLT because I think it adds the fog lights and 3rd row seating. I'm guessing by 2003 or 2004 all the early issue problems were resolved by Ford?

Everyone's input is greatly appreciated.
 
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JarvisB

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2014 Explorer Sport
my v8 4.6 gives me plenty of power even though the number on the papers does not look like it.
 
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NJExplorerFan

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Another thing I wanted to add is that eventually I would like to buy a trailer so I can pull my Mustang to the 1/4 mile drag strip. With that in mind, am I better off getting the V8? And what years should I focus on - 2003+ ???
 
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jrford

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Birmingham, MI
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'10 Sport Trac
03, 04 (start of fly by wire) and 05's seem OK. . . .typical issues, its hit or miss. Id go for the V8 all the way, very quick, good torque, quicker if you get the big hitch and 3.73's axles, although mine with 3.55's is still fast, about 1mpg diff. The ride on IRS is much more stable on rough roads then a rear solid axle, the one you looked at may have had worn shocks. Its hard to test, they may seem ok with the classic bumper test but still worn out. Mounties could be another option if you like AWD, its standard on them and (around here at least) more seem to have the V8.
 
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Joe Dirt

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I agree with Jim-

Definitely go V8, especially if you're going to tow your car. And I also agree on the Mountaineer idea- might have an easier timw finding a V8 Mounty, and they're usually loaded up nicely with options.

I had a 2003 Explorer, and loved it. I wouldn't be afraid of 2003 either, so any of the years you're looking at would be peachy!
 
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NJExplorerFan

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How much of a noticeable power difference is there in the V8? Will I still be able to tow a Mustang with a V6? My car is about 3,200 - 3,300 lbs.

And, what about maintenance work on either one. Is any one easier? I know in the 2nd gen. 4.0L SOHC V6 Explorer I just sold was a pain just to change plugs and you need a special tool to change the fuel filter. There's practically no room to work under the hood. My guess is that the newer models are worse.
 
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Exp03Limited

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2003 Limited AWD
There is noticeable difference between v6 and v8. I first test drove the v6 and wasn't happy with it, after driving the v8 I bought it. Now it's still not lots of power but it tows well and doesn't feel like a dog. I also own a v8 Mustang with the same engine and its of course much much faster :D
 
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Joe Dirt

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If you're towing that much, you will definitely notice a difference in the V6 and the V8...
 
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renegade1

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99 explorer sport
we have a 2001 mountianeer with the v6. weve had her 9 years without a problem. we have even towed the trailer for my brothers scout troup (roughly 2000-300 pounds loaded) back on old mountian roads (tough enough without a trailer!) and the mounty held her own. the truck also tows our 20 foot boat no problem. not sure of her gearing (has the tow package) but she will fly on the highway. gets around 20mpg highway and 17-18 city. id recomend one of these - as i said - 9 years and weve had no problems
 
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yglide123

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Bend, OR
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 Limited '13 Sport
I was recently in your situation too... test drove several V6's... but bought the first V8 I drove. Enough said?

Gas mileage is about 16mpg mixed so far tho...
 
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zerodevil

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2008 White Limited V8
i have driven both the 4.0 and the 4.6... and i have to say i will NEVER buy another 4.0 explorer. my 4.6L with bolt ons (Less than 2.5 grand) gets my tank to 60 in less than 7 seconds, and i have enough power to pull full size TRUCKS out of the snow banks when they cant handle the roads up here in alaska. i have towed a 20 foot dual axel trailor with 4 snow machines with out to much difficulty. if your going to want to mod. go for an 03, if you want a nice refined driving machine, go for an 04 plus. also the on the 4.6L there was a head redesign in 03+ engines (an 03 truck likely has an 02 engine in it) to prevent sparkplug blow out (my origional 4.6 shot 3 of the suckers over a years time), i opted to change to the newer engine.


You do not need a "Special" tool to change the fuel filter, its a little 4 dollar piece of metal. I have done a lot to these rigs and maintance can be done fairly easy.
 
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NJExplorerFan

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2015 Limited
Let me understand what you mentioned. A 2003 "has" a redesigned head V8 or it doesn't? Should I get a 2004 V8 instead?
 
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