2006 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8
2006 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8. Click image to enlarge

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Ford Motor Company of Canada

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

Jeep may have established the SUV segment with its Cherokee, but it was Ford who managed to popularize it with the Explorer, which first appeared in 1990 and quickly became the household name that it is today.

The fourth-generation model, introduced in 2006, wasn’t an all-new truck, but was rather an extensive update of the outgoing Explorer. It got a new, stronger frame and a redesigned version of the independent rear suspension first seen in the previous generation.

A 4.0-litre V6 engine remained as the base powerplant, while the optional 4.6-litre V8 was revised with new cylinder heads and a bunch more power. The V6 made a middling 210 horspower and 254 lb-ft of torque, while the V8 was good for 292 hp/300 lb-ft, increases of 53 hp and 18 lb-ft. The V6 was offered with a five-speed automatic transmission carried over from 2005, but the V8 got an all-new six-speed automatic.

2006 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8
2006 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8. Click image to enlarge

In the U.S., buyers could choose a rear-wheel drive Explorer, but here in Canada, all were driven by all four wheels. Depending on the model, the system was either an automatic all-wheel drive system, or a true four-wheel drive set-up with low-range gearing. The Explorer could also be had with a third row of seating, for a total of seven places.

Explorer buyers who also wanted a bit of pickup truck utility could choose the Sport Trac, which had four doors and a short pickup bed on the back. It will be covered in its own used vehicle review.

Changes in 2007 were small, but included Ford’s making curtain airbags standard where they had been an option in 2006.

Partway into the 2008 model year, the Explorer gained a host of new standard and optional features, including SYNC communications system, voice-activated navigation, 20-inch wheels and a capless fuel filling system.

2006 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8
2006 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8. Click image to enlarge

The Explorer has never exactly been a poster child for environmental considerations, and its fuel consumption ratings reflect that. At its worst, the numbers in 2006 were 16.7/11.4 L/100 km (city/highway) for the V6 model and 16.8/11.0 with the V8. Those figures improved steadily, though, to 16.2/10.9 L/100 km with the six-cylinder, in 2010; surprisingly, the V8 became the economy champ in the same year, rated at 15.2/10.3 L/100 km.

For all of its popularity, the Explorer doesn’t boast the strongest reliability record either, with Consumer Reports rating it average at best and well below average at worst.

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