Purchased from a Honda used dealership in New Jersey for some amount I can not remember, with the New Beetle as a trade-in. Black & Tan exterior, Tan interior with wood-grain accents, all leather.
After owning the Beetle forever, the band Viktim was doing a lot more work and I was with a full acoustic set. So I looked at SUV purchases and found the Ford Explorer to be a great value in its Eddie Bauer offering. While the similar Mercury Mountaineer version was often sold at a similar price, I simply did not like the interior design of that vehicle; too much boring aluminum and blandness. Just doesn’t work for me. I much preferred the two-tone look on the Eddie Bauer comparatively, esp. to the Limited edition which was a solid color. The Lincoln outfitted Aviator was gorgeous all around but way too out of the price range, sadly.
After reading up on the reviews, the V8 version was definitely the way to go. The Underpowered V6 just ate too much gas moving itself around, especially under any load. As it turns out, the V6 suffered form a lot of quality issues. The AWD version of the V8 was a bit tricky to find over the Traction version, but well worth the hunt. AWD on a vehicle like this is mandatory in my opinion.
The ride of the vehicle was very confident for a rather large vehicle, the AWD definitely works its magic in a few crappy snow days I commuted through, passing the much larger Expeditions & Navigators & Escalades stuck on the sides. It would have been nice to have more room up front for height, but it was a mid-size after all. The second-row seats were a bit too close to the front seats in my opinion, but having the optional 3rd row seat was useful a few times in hauling a group of friends to restaurants together. Definitely had its comedic value at the time.
The vehicle was very reliable overall, no issues at all during the life of it. Part of the research in ownership expense proved itself when a tree fell on it during a hurricane while living at the cottage in New York. Progressive did not total the vehicle, and after having a recommended, preferred garage handle the repairs, the vehicle was in stunning condition afterwords. The parts for this were very cheap; for instance, a replacement windshield for the New Beetle I owned was $500, compared to $50 for this Explorer. No odd paint-mismatching or anything else noticeable to it from their work, it was very impressive. The repair time did take almost a month due to Ford being slow in sending out a replacement Sunroof for the vehicle though. God I love sunroofs.
While this was in for repairs after the hurricane, I had a Dodge Dakota pickup truck as a rental. What a piece of shit that was. That experience in that piece of shit affirmed me to never consider a Dodge, Chrysler or other Mopar based vehicle at all.