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So, I have a 14 year old Commander, which, despite it's bad rep, I actually love. The 3rd row is a joke, and mileage is bad. But it's AWD and low range are awesome with good tires. And the thing tows like a champ. I live in Northern Michigan and have taken the thing two tracking and through some brutal snow storms and it's been great. However, it's close to 200K miles and it's showing it's age. Powertrain is fine but it's been hit twice (once by a deer and once by a loved one), and I had to tape the sunroof shut because it was leaking like a sieve and no one would touch it for a reasonable price. Now the exhaust is starting to come apart. I'd keep it, but the wife is ready to move on.

In a recent trip I took with the family my wife's cousin lent us his Explorer ST (he works for Ford and it was his lease vehicle).

HOLY COW. JUST... HOLY COW!

I am not in the market for an ST, more's the pity. But a limited might be within my price range. The things I like about it are the 5* crash rating, its ability to tow, and it's pretty impressive crash avoidance tech. My daughter just turned 16. I'm comparison shopping it against the Highlander that has much of the same stuff, but TBH I had a Ford Five Hundred once and I loved the room, packaging, and especially the keypad and would like to get back into Ford again. I also am not a huge fan of Toyota interiors.

My biggest worry with the Explorer is just the engine. So here it goes:

Q1: I keep my cars a long time, and that's a damned small engine to be carting that vehicle around, let alone tow my boat regularly. Has anyone had any issues long term (or high mileage as they haven't been out too long).

Q2: I'm also concerned about the 20's. What was so bad that they had to remanufacture them in Flat Rock? I can't seem to find out and the used ones are coming on the market.

Q3: Finally, I'd read that the 2.3, because it was a direct injection engine, had to be torn down at 100K and have the valves blasted clean due to carbon build up. This seems nuts, but I just want to be sure.

My previous cars were a '98 Grand Cherokee with a 318 that I put 240K problem free miles on, and a Jeep XJ that died at 205K a month after I sold it. I'm used to simple engines that last a long time, and the tech on the eco boost is a little intimidating.

Thank you for any help!
 

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I traded my 2020 Limited for a 2020 ST last Wednesday. Man, this thing is rowdy when you request rowdy!

Here's the new ride:

Car Wheel Land vehicle Automotive parking light Vehicle
 
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As for towing, my Limited towed my utility trailer and still got 18 mpg (the Ram got about 10). Yeah, the Chicago-built Explorers had to go to Flat Rock to clean up the assembly mistakes. Don't know about engine tear-down at 100K for the 2.3. My Mazda Speed3 and my Mustang EB 'Vert are the same motor. The Mazda was fine when I traded at 61K. The Mustang is good at 51K. It's true that DI engines have issues with carbon build-up on the intake valves. Ford has gone to DI and SPI for some engines. Sounds logical, but expensive.

This ST already is inspiring more confidence for me; no weird transmission antics, the audio works better. I think it'll get near-equal MPG. Time will tell...
 

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I have a 2020 XLT with the 2.3L 10 speed transmission, and I would not do it again. I like the gas mileage, but I don't like getting tossed around in the driver seat when the transmission shifts from 2nd to 3rd. It replaced my 2016 Limited which I loved, but one of the cylinders shit the bed, and the Explorer was never the same after repair.
 

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I have a 2015 Limited (wish I had gone with the Sport) but from day one I always felt it was underpowered and really wanted a 8-cyl or at the least a twin turbo.
 
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