Because most buyers rarely ventured off-road with their Explorers, the second-gen model's redesign was enhanced for better on-road manners, thus further differentiating the Explorer from the Ranger pickup truck on which it was still based.

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he more off-road-inclined I-Beam front suspension was replaced with a new, independent wishbone setup, but a live axle still resided out back.

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The Explorer's exterior design also put more distance between itself and the Ranger.

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There was a lot more power under the hood, too. For 1996, Ford began offering a 5.0-liter V8 engine making 210 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.

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In 1997, Ford added a single-overhead cam, 4.0-liter V6 to the option sheet. This modernized mill was good for 205 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque.

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The base 4.0-liter V6, however, was still making just 160 ponies.

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This generation of Explorer waved "goodbye" to its Mazda platform-mate after 1994, but the midsize SUV wasn't alone for long. The 1997 model year brought about the Mercury Mountaineer, which came only with the 5.0-liter V8, but subsequent years made V6 power optional. 

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By the turn of the century, the biggest news for the Explorer centered on its Firestone tires blowing out while in use, leading to numerous rollovers, deaths and 6.5 million tires recalled.

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Meanwhile, Ford was adding a new pickup truck variant called the Explorer Sport Trac with four doors, a 14.3-inch longer wheelbase and a 4.2-foot, composite truck bed.

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Keep scrolling for more photos of the second-gen Explorer.

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1999 Ford Explorer (05) Passenger's side 3/4

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