Whether you credit it with, or blame it for starting the 1990’s SUV boom, the Ford Explorer is the single most successful SUV ever launched by any auto company. Routinely selling at the rate of some 400,000 units annually in its early years on the market, the Explorer was the perfect combination of style, utility, and passenger capacity.
Favored both by young families and single adults, the Explorer’s adventurous image displaced station wagons in the minds of those who engaged in outdoors recreational activities. It did the same for those who wanted to look like they engaged in outdoor recreational activities too.
At the peak of the model’s popularity however, a controversy emerged when Explorer models fitted with Firestone ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT tires demonstrated a propensity for tire failure resulting in rollover crashes. The resulting video footage of Explorers beside the highway on their backs with their wheels in the air like hapless turtles, well, let’s just say that put something of a damper on sales.
Introduced in 1990, as a 1991 model, there have been five generations of the Ford Explorer offered to date. This retrospective picks up with the second generation Explorer, introduced in 1995.