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2002 Ford Explorer: A Special Section
eMOTION! Staff

Explorer: A Not So Rocky Road

Explorer: Testing the Limits


Ford Explorer & Mercury Mountaineer for 2002: Defining the Next Generation

There's a new Explorer in town. And it's all new - with independent rear suspension, a new all-aluminum V-8 engine, and (later in 2001) stability control. When you consider the Explorer is the best selling sport utility vehicle in the world, that comes as big news.

Blame the rather tepid exterior changes on an understandable fear of messing with success. But then there's this independent rear suspension, the one with the hole in the frame. You can't help but wonder how they got it that way.

"The first thing we decided was we had to have a third row seat," said Dale Claudepierre, Vehicle Line Director of Ford Compact Utilities. The next thing was how to do it, since traditional truck based SUV's have a frame that runs from front to back with a arch to avoid the solid rear axle.

According to chassis integration manager Manfred Rumpel, "...we asked ourselves why we were trying to work around the frame...we worked out some calculations in basic frame theory and physics and we were able to prove that a porthole-in-frame design would have all the necessary strength and much better packaging flexibility. That solved the problem and Ford applied for five patents.

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