It all adds up to a more pleasant-to-drive Explorer. The 205-horse V-6 is more than adequate in the four-door, but downright brisk in the lighter Sport. The transmission's closely spaced first-, second-, and third-gear ratios keep the motor neatly in the heart of its powerband, for around-town and freeway-onramp duty. And there's no question the new springs, shocks, and body mounts make for a quieter, more polished ride-although you still won't mistake the Explorer Sport for anything but a short-wheelbase, truck-spawned SUV. You will, however, appreciate that shorter wheelbase when negotiating tight, off-road trails. There's adequate room in the back passenger area, though it is, of course, a bit more of a hassle climbing back there than it would be in a four-door. The Sport's thick B- and C- pillars may create a blind spot for some drivers.

It's easy to see Ford's target here: singles and kidless couples who probably won't use the back seats much, anyway. If two doors work for you, you'll find the 2001 Explorer Sport awaiting your inspection in showrooms right about now.

Vehicle configurationFront engine, four-wheel drive, two-door, five-pass.
Engine type 60-degree V-6, SOHC, 2 valves/cyl.
Displacement ci/cc 244.7/4011
Horsepower, hp @ rpm, SAE net 205 @ 5250
Torque, lb-ft @ rpm, SAE net 240 @ 3750
Transmission type 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase, in./mm 101.8/2586
Base curb weight, lb 3975
Acceleration, 0-60 mph, sec 8.4
Standing quarter mile, mph/sec 16.5/83.0
Braking, 60-0 mph, ft 134
Lateral acceleration, g 0.68
Speed through 600-ft slalom, mph 56.1
EPA fuel economy, mpg, city/hwy. 15/19
Base price $24,695
Price as tested $28,240