No other sport/utility automobile even comes close to enjoying the industry acceptance that Ford"s Explorer. Offering 123,000 units an ext per year than the next most famous nameplate (Jeep grand Cherokee), the Explorer"s mix of good looks, utility, and also road-oriented dealing with obviously dram well through a huge variety of drivers.

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Two human body styles, 3 engines, and also a variety of trim levels assist give the Explorer broad appeal. Prices start in the $20,000 variety for a an easy two-door, rear-drive explorer XL and also ramp up to the mid $30Ks because that a totally decked-out four-door, 4WD, traveler Limited. Every versions re-superstructure a comfortable carlike internal that provides plenty the utility and cargo room. Heavy hauling isn"t yes, really the Explorer"s solid suit, however. Setup on capability much choose you"d intend of a conventional station wagon-with a dash that dirt ability thrown in. With the Explorer"s street-tuned suspension and restricted ground clearance, the four-wheel-drive cabability have to be regarded as insurance for acquiring out of trouble, not an forgive to go seeking wilderness thrills.

The straightforward engine is a 4.0-liter OHV V-6, v a new-for-"97 SOHC version of the very same powerplant easily accessible as an option. Besides boosting horsepower from 160 to 205, the overhead video camer option also includes a five-speed automatic transmission. Better still is the top-of-the-line 5.0-liter OHV V-8 (only obtainable with all-wheel drive) that develops 210 horses but, much more important, hold a 30-pound-foot-torque benefit over the SOHC midlevel V-6. With the basic engine, 0-60-mph acceleration takes end 11 seconds, but improves drastically to the 8-second bracket v either the the update engines.

Ultimately, the soldier of traveler owners seem much less enamored of rock climbing and trailer towing than they room of the Ford"s quiet, sedanlike interior, flexible nature, and rugged great looks.-Jeff Karr

Toyota 4 RunnerIt wasn"t long ago that we asserted the 4Runner "the brand-new import compact-SUV king of the hill" (May "96), and after our recent two-week stint behind the wheel, we wholeheartedly support that declaration. Think of the 4Runner as a 71/48-scale soil Cruiser anxiously awaiting to be knighted a Lexus choose its large brother. Alas, v the notice of the Lexus SLV, we understand it won"t happen, yet it doesn"t take an overactive imagination to ~ pretend it currently has.

Everything about the 4Runner bespeaks the detailed engineering and painstaking assembly demanded by Toyota, resulting in a truck that feels as if it were machined indigenous billet aluminum. In particular, the engines embody precision. Offering a an option of two- or four-wheel drive, the 4Runner spans a broad price selection from $19,888 come $33,738. The an easy model comes with an enticing 2.7-liter/150-horsepower DOHC four-cylinder. Us secured a mid-model SR5 for our dirt-flinging adventure touting the smooth and also economical 3.4-liter/183-horsepower DOHC V-6 and four-wheel drive. This powerplant proved downright silky yet lacks the grunt forced for midsize trailer towing.

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Refinement is likewise evident in suspension tuning, i beg your pardon absorbs minor road aberrations and softens significant bumps if confidently putting power to the ground. Due to the fact that of that is towering drive height, the 4Runner exhibits a fair amount of bodyroll, limiting slalom times. Large Bridgestone Dueler H/T 265/70SR16 tires to fill the wheelwells of our tester and combine with the enormous 11.1-inch floor clearance to basically require a springboard (or optional to run boards) because that vertically challenged passengers to get in the 4Runner. Top top the other hand, this traits make this Toyota a formidable off-roader, while delivering the passengers in comfort.

Inside the sculpted sheetmetal is comfortable soldier for five, v ample leg- and also headroom for each passenger. Swinging open up the rear hatch exposes 44.6 cubic feet of luggage-swallowing cargo space. Very versatile, the 4Runner is a first-class sport/utility for all occasions.- Jeff Bartlett


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