I recognize that I have only driven about 1,800 miles, so I acknowledge that I may change my initial assessment in selecting so many high marks. But with that said: This is the nicest vehicle that I have ever owned.
Upon purchase, I immediately had a Ford garage perform the 75,000 and 60,000 mile maintenance schedules. This included flushing the cooling system, changing the transmission fluid and filter, changing the air filter, checking the brakes, and changing the oil, in addition to checking other fluids. I like to know where I'm starting from with a used car.
I had never considered myself a "Ford person" but I love this vehicle!
The seats are very comfortable, with lumbar support, and power adjustments for the driver.
The steering wheel is thick, so you can grab it, and the material doesn't slide through your fingers. Controlling the steering wheel feels smooth and tight, with no wobble.
The interior is tasteful yet utilitarian, easy to clean. Arm rests are at the right height, and the center console is useful, with storage in the armrest and two cupholders.
I appreciate little details like the hexagonal bolt head motif that is repeated on the step bars and steering wheel cover. I also appreciate the use of different materials on the door panel, rather than a cheap looking single piece of plastic or cloth.
The back seats adults comfortably. The best thing I can say about general comfort is that I drove it 600 miles in a day, and didn't feel sore or fatigued at all, and could have driven another two hours.
I have only good things to say. I like the use of gauges on the instrument cluster, rather than "idiot lights", and it is easy to see all of the cluster through the steering wheel. I also like being able to turn off the overdrive.
The power windows and locks are a luxury for me, and they work flawlessly.
The intermittent wipers are great.
The 6-slot, in-dash CD player is nice, although I don't know how much I will use it.
The AC is fabulous, even too cold without going to "Max AC". The passengers really like the rear AC controls for the back seat.
I have a tendency to not want to use the key fob to lock/unlock the doors, for fear of wearing out the motors or servos.
If I haven't mentioned it specifically, assume that I'm happy with it.
I used to have disdain for 6-cylinders, but no more. I'm really impressed by the 4.0 liter, single overhead cam engine and the 5-speed automatic transmission.
I have checked gas mileage, and at 55 mph the Explorer gets 26 mpg, which I'm really excited about. Even doing over 65 mph with the AC on, it gets over 22 mpg, and in a mixture of short trips/highway/city driving, I got 19-21 mpg. This seems to wildly exceed the EPA estimate of 15 city/20 highway, but my driving habits have always beaten the EPA estimates.
The four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes are nice to have, although my driving is controlled enough that I may never need their full capability. The previous owner must have relied on them a lot, because there is some pulsing, indicating warping, under harder braking, and one rotor has a groove worn in it, so a brake job will be in my future. I wouldn't consider this the vehicle's fault.
I'm a little skeptical about the long term reliability and ruggedness of the dashboard selector switch for the transfer case. I'm used to the lever and the mechanical connection. There are no problems thus far, although I haven't used it much. I like the 2-speed transfer case, since a low range is more appropriate for a truck as compared to "all wheel drive."
The body and differentials don't have the ground clearance that I'm used to in a 4-wheel drive, and the step bars lower that even further. However, I knew that my serious off-road working days were over, so I can't complain. I wouldn't take this vehicle to places where I wouldn't have hesitated to take my previous truck, although it is too nice to bounce off trees and rocks, anyway.
Everything is smooth and tight, no squeaks or rattles. The steering wheel is straight, and the vehicle goes where it is pointed without wandering, even in the interstate troughs made by tractor trailers.
The ride is quiet, with minimal road noise, although I have truck tires rather than street tires.
The steering and braking is smooth, and I find myself going about 15 mph faster than I thought because the vehicle is so much smoother than my old car. I know better than to consider any truck as a sportscar, but it takes corners pretty well, at least far better than my old full-sized truck.
You can feel nasty bumps and expansion joints in the road, but they aren't bone-jarring as in my previous vehicles. I'm impressed at the way it handles the undulating "up and down" motion of freeze-thaw affected roads, smoothing them out instead of bouncing up and down. In my previous truck, I would have to slow down to 45 or it felt as though my kidneys were being pounded.