One of the most popular and recognizable SUVs in history is entering its final year of production. Fortunately, the Ford Explorer is not going to the automotive graveyard per se, but waiting in the current incarnation's shadow is a completely different vehicle that shares the same name. By 2011, the Ford midsize SUV will no longer be the same sport/utility that we have known for nearly two decades, because at the end of its fourth generation, the Explorer will be moving away from its traditional body-on-frame architecture to its new unibody platform shared with the Flex, Taurus, and Lincoln MKS and MKT.

In its final year, Ford decided the Explorer didn't need any additional fanfare or a "Special Commemorative Edition" plaque. The 2010 Explorer builds on essentially the same all-around package as the preceding 2009 model, with a comprehensive standard safety package including features such as AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and an Intelligent Safety System with second-generation front airbags, adaptive venting and airbag inflators, adaptive load-limiting seatbelt retractors, and more. Standard Trailer Sway Control, Sync, and Sirius Travel Link keep the Explorer up to date with even the priciest of SUVs.

With seating available for up to seven passengers, the Explorer will feature three models -- XLT, Eddie Bauer, and Limited -- although some may argue that the available XLT Sport package creates a new model in itself. The XLT will kick off the Explorer lineup as the base while the Limited sits pretty as the topline model.

The XLT Sport package enriches the XLT model with Charcoal Black cloth seats, a white instrument cluster, and all-weather floormats on the inside. On the outside, black-accented wheel lips, step bars, and fascias highlight the sporty side of the Explorer.

Exterior color selections for the 2010 Ford Explorer include:

  • Black: XLT, XLT Sport, Eddie Bauer, Limited
  • Black Pearl Slate Metallic: XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited
  • Blue Flame Metallic: XLT, XLT Sport, Eddie Bauer, Limited
  • Brilliant Silver Metallic: XLT, XLT Sport, Limited
  • Dark Copper Metallic: XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited
  • Sangria Red Metallic: XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited
  • Torch Red: XLT Sport
  • White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat: Eddie Bauer, Limited
  • White Suede: XLT, Eddie Bauer

On the inside, fabric colors and choices are listed below. With the exception of Brilliant Silver Metallic, both Camel and Charcoal Black interior colors are available with any exterior paint color, while all XLT Sport and Brilliant Silver-colored Explorer models are matched with Charcoal Black interiors.

  • Camel Cloth with Sand inserts: Standard on XLT
  • Charcoal Black Cloth: Standard on XLT
  • Camel Leather with Sand inserts: Standard on Eddie Bauer, optional on XLT
  • Charcoal Black Leather: Optional on XLT
  • Charcoal Black Leather with Camel inserts: Standard on Eddie Bauer
  • Charcoal Black Leather with perforated inserts: Standard on Limited

The Eddie Bauer model incorporates a three-bar chrome front grille with a Pueblo Gold-themed exterior. Gold-keyed exterior pieces include the lower front bumper, rear bumper, wheel lip moldings, and step bars. Seventeen-inch painted-aluminum wheels, woodgrain interior accents, and leather-trimmed first-row bucket seats with heating immaculately show why Ford and Eddie Bauer have been partners for more than 20 years. The well-appointed Limited model adds even more bling: 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, four-bar chrome front grille, chrome roof side rails, chrome-capped side mirrors, and step bars with chrome accents.

The powerplants used to motivate the Ford midsize sport/utility include the standard 4.0-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, and an optional 24-valve Modular 4.6-liter V-8 with 292 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque for Eddie Bauer and Limited models. The V-6 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, while the V-8 uses a six-speed automatic and is only available with 4WD/AWD. In its RWD layout with the 4.0-liter V-6, the Explorer returns 14/20 mpg city/highway. With 4WD, the SUV is rated at 13/19 mpg city/highway with the six-cylinder, and 14/19 mpg city/highway with the V-8.

A 3.55 rear axle is equipped standard on the Explorer, while a 3.73 may also be paired with the 4.0-liter V-6 as part of the available Class III/IV Trailer Tow Package. Straight off the showroom floor, the Explorer is rated to trailer a maximum of 3500 pounds, regardless of powertrain and drivetrain selection. With the tow package, the V-6-powered Explorer can safely tow 5375 pounds with RWD, 5205 pounds with 4WD, and 5000 pounds with AWD. The V-8, with 315 pound-feet of torque, is rated to tow 7115 pounds with either 4WD or AWD. Depending on the passenger seat configuration, the maximum towing capacity may alter slightly according to the total number of people being hauled, but with 7000-plus pounds of towing capacity, there isn't much an average Explorer owner can't handle.

The current Explorer may be making its way to the exits, but it will forever remain an important figure in the history of the sport/utility vehicle. At its peak, it sold more than half a million units in a single year, and despite critical pannings and a number of recalls over the years, the Explorer will not be forgotten as one of the first mainstream SUVs.


2010 Ford Explorer
Base Price$29,825 (XLT), $33,775 (Eddie Bauer), $36,825 (Limited)
Vehicle LayoutFront-engine, RWD, 4WD, AWD, 5-door SUV
Engine4.0L/210-hp/254 lb-ft SOHC 12-valve V-6; 4.6L/292-hp/315 lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-8
Transmission5-speed Automatic (V-6), 6-speed Automatic (V-8)
Curb Weight4455 to 4544 lb (RWD), 4628 to 4716 lb (4WD, V-6), 4719 to 4807 lb (4WD, V-8) (mfr)
Wheelbase113.7 in
Length x Width x Height193.4 x 84.8 x 72.8 in
EPA City/Hwy Fuel Econ13-14/19-20 mpg
On SaleNow