Old 05-13-2010, 05:32 PM
Senior MemberCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: North of Boston
Posts: 13,365
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My wife previously drove a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT V8 4X4 which we traded in on the Mountaineer with 90,000 miles. The Explorer had some serious engine problems and rear differential problems which were covered under the Ford extended warranty that I had purchased but we decided to take a chance on the updated model in '06 anyways with the revised 4.6 V8 and the 6-speed automatic transmission.

These SUVs are not of the same quality as the Japanese brands but they are pretty cheap to buy (new or used) and we like the size of these vehicles. The 3rd row seat in the '06+ Explorer and Mountaineer is quite usable, better than the bigger Tahoe/Yukon, for example.

We purchased ours new in January '07. It initially had a problem where the check engine light would come on frequently. After threatening a "lemon law" return the dealer finally got serious about troubleshooting the problem and determined the wiring harness had a short. They had to drop the fuel tank to perform the repair but there has not been a similar problem since, after 3 years.

Since then, a few little things have gone wrong: a cracked plastic seat base, missing pixels in the instrument cluster, passenger's side heated seat stopped working. They have all been fixed under the Ford extended warranty, which I purchased again, but it is annoying to have these items go wrong.

I replaced the original BF Goodrich tires with Pirellis around 35K miles and I run Amsoil synthetic oil in it but that's about it. We're still running the original brakes all around. It has been a more reliable vehicle than the '02 Explorer and even seems to be better than a friend's '04 Honda Pilot.

The extended warranty runs to 75K miles which will be some time around January 2012, or right about when it is paid for (60 months, 0% financing). We'll probably keep it for another year beyond that, I tend to replace my wife's vehicles at 90K miles. She used to drive more so that used to only be 4 years but now it will be like 6. However, if it starts to have any issues after the extended warranty is up, we'll dump it.

Would I buy another? Probably. As mentioned above, I think they offer pretty good value for the price. The extended warranty is a good idea, sadly that seems to be the case with most new vehicles these days, however. The Mountaineers come better equipped than the Explorers and I think the Mercury interior - particularly in black - is nicer than the Ford, but I think the part-time 4X4 system on the Explorer is better than the AWD system on the Mountaineer.

Will I buy another? Probably not. My wife will probably want to move on to something like the Toyota Venza next time. Just like she wanted the change in image when she went from her 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan to the 2002 Ford Explorer, she probably now wants to move away from the SUV crowd towards something that still has utility but is less trucky. I drive a new Toyota Tundra for when we need a truck.

I would only buy the Explorer or Mountaineer with the 4.6 V8. That engine has plenty of power, the V6 is a dog. In around town driving it is a bit of a pig on gas, getting only 14 MPG or so. On extended highway trips, however, you can routinely average 18 or better and even 20 MPG is possble if you keep it under 75. I just took it to Washington D.C. and back and averaged 18.5 MPG over 900 miles with 4 people and luggage in the car.

If you plan on towing, find one that has the factory Class III tow package (it will have a 2" receiver), it comes with a 3.73 rear end.