Dearborn, MI óThe 2002 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer aren't built on truck platforms like their predecessors. Instead, engineers revised the design from the ground up. "These changes move Ford's SUV line up in its class in terms of ride, comfort, refinement, and safety," says Steve von Forester, chief program engineer. Technology highlights include a fully boxed frame, independent rear suspension, power-train enhancements, and a new safety canopy with rollover capability (See Design News 10/2/00, p. 102).
The independent rear suspension with a "porthole-in-frame" design allows the rear half shafts to actually pass through holes in the frame instead of under it, lowering the floor in the third-row seat to give passengers more room. While maintaining the same vehicle length and height as 2001 models, the 2002s have a 2.5-inch wider stance, and a 2-inch longer wheelbase.
New power train options include a 4.6(liter) V8 based on the Triton 4.6(liter), only with an all aluminum block that saves 62lbs. Standard on the Mountaineer, the 4.6(liter) engine delivers 240 hp at 4,750 rpm, and 280 lb-ft of peak torque.