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Economical and capable, the Ford Explorer proved an attractive alternative to minivans. In 1998, the Ford Explorer was available as a three-door and more popular five-door variant. The three-door body style was discontinued from the Ford Explorer line-up after the 2003 model year. Starting in the 2001 model year, the Ford Explorer was available with an open pickup bed box version called the Sport Trac. The Ford Explorer Sport Trac model was produced through to 2010. Originally powered by a 4-liter V-6 engine, the 1996-model year revamp of the Ford Explorer provided a 5.0-liter V-8 option for consumers.
In 2000, the Ford Explorer was the subject of a highly publicized safety concern regarding its factory-equipped Firestone tires and rollover risk. Electronic stability control (a function designed to improve a driver’s ability to handle a vehicle through turning) was added standard throughout the Ford Explorer line during the 2006 model year. A third-generation Ford Explorer was introduced in 2002 with a major change coming with the replacement of a live rear axle suspension with a fully independent type. Between 1998 and 2002, the Ford Explorer accounted for over 400,000 per year in sales.
Due to increased competition from crossover vehicles, the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles sales plummeted to 52,190 in 2009. In 2011, a dramatic change came to the Ford Explorer. The truck-based frame was replaced by a unibody frame, making it a large crossover, the truck-based frame was replaced by a unibody frame effectively making it a large crossover. From 2011 to 2014, seven-passenger capacity and EcoBoost power has been available on the Ford Explorer.