Ford Explorer begins with immediate success
The Ford Explorer first went on sale in 1990 and became an instant hit that would help transport a new generation of families.
The first Explorer was built off the Ford Ranger's pickup truck chassis and shared a plethora of parts with its more utilitarian sibling, namely body panels ahead of the A-pillar and a dashboard.
Although the Explorer resembled the (also Ranger-based) two-door Ford Bronco II compact SUV of the 1989 and 1990 model years, the Explorer was actually a full segment size larger.
Under the hood was a 4.0-liter, overhead-valve V6 that made a respectable (for the time) 155 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque.
Later model years saw a 5-horsepower bump, but torque stayed the same.
The V6 could be paired with a Mazda-sourced five-speed manual transmission or a Ford-designed four-speed automatic.
The first-gen Explorer came with rear-wheel drive standard, but shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive was optional.
In its first year, it sold 140,509 units. In its second year, it more than doubled that with 282,837 sales.
Speaking of Mazda, the Japanese automaker sold its own version of the first-gen Explorer. Called the Navajo, it was based off the Explorer Sport, meaning that it was only offered with two doors.
The first-generation Ford Explorer was one of the most important SUVs of its time.
Keep scrolling for more photos of the first-generation Ford Explorer.