They redesigned the Explorer for this year and it is much better than the older 2002-2005 version like my relatives had. They updated the suspension and sound insulation to make it ride better and quieter. The commercials don't lie, this thing is as quiet as a luxury car.
Having the independent suspension makes it handle better than our old jeep too. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Jeep, but this truck is impressive. The Explorer is probably faster than the Jeep overall, but it doesn't have the low end torque I was used to, it takes a lot more reving the engine around town to make speed.
They had a deal on the Eddie Bauer model because of its higher residual value, so we went for that instead of the XLT, so it's got some options we weren't used too. The interior is all new for 2006 as well, and it's much better designed than the prior generation. I like how they moved the shifter back to the floor, and the seats are way more comfortable. Plus now roll stability control and skid control are standard, which is a safety bonus.
I'll keep you updated as we put more miles on it, but as of now I'm impressed.
Update 2nd April 2007:
Still impressed with the smooth ride and the quietness of the interior. Handling is top notch for a truck based SUV. To settle aside some comments that knocked the explorer as being unsafe, I once took a sharp left at 35mph and felt like it could do it faster.
After several longer distance trips, the power from the V-6 on the interstate is much better than around town because all of its horsepower and torque is top end.
Gas mileage has averaged from a high of 21.5 on interstate trips with speeds from 70-85, to a low of 17 when windy. City mileage however is terrible, averaging 12-14 depending on the weather.
My only complaint thus far is the front door handles being placed so low on the door panel. Ford has appeared to fixed the issue on 07 models however.