$24,200 - $34,085
(800) 392-3673 or www.fordoutfitters.com
Street Smarts: 9
Appetite for Chilly Adventure: 8
The completely redesigned '02 model makes its predecessor a pretty forgettable vehicle.
After last year's much-publicized tire problems, you'd think Ford would want us to forget all about the Explorer. Well, we can forget all about the Explorer; the old Explorer, that is. Which isn't very difficult, as the completely redesigned '02 model makes its predecessor a pretty forgettable vehicle. With a new frame, suspension, transmission, and yes, tires, the Explorer becomes more responsive and comfortable both on road and off. The interior hasn't escaped the reworking: Materials have been upgraded, and there's extra room all 'round. Those looking to actually, umm, explore in the new Explorer will appreciate the 9.2 inches of minimum ground clearance, as much as two inches more than the competition. Looking for a better mid-sized SUV under 30 grand? Forget about it.