No major changes marked the launch of the 2003 Ford Explorer, except for one: 5-speed manual transmission was no longer an option offered in the main Explorer line (it was still available on the Explorer Sport Trac SUV/pickup hybrid, though).
Engine offerings were the same as in 2002: buyers of the '03 Ford Explorer had the choice of a 4.0 liter V-6 or a 4.6 liter Triton V-8. Gas mileage maintained its middle-of-the-pack position, with 14-17 mpg city and 19-21 mpg city, depending on model.
Users ranked 2003 Ford Explorer against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.
The 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac :-( continued to be a popular choice with buyers looking for the comfort of a mid-size SUV and the versatility and ruggedness of a pickup truck.
The hybrid 'sport utility truck' may never have matched the sales figures set by its progenitor, the top-selling Ford Explorer SUV, but the folks in Dearborn knew how to size up the market for this niche vehicle; dealers sold them faster than they could stock them.
Ford's Safety Canopy side-curtain air bag was available as an option on the 2003 Explorer Sport Trac. Other safety options, like front and rear stabilizer bars, Control Trac (Ford's proprietary on-the-fly 4WD electric shift box) were optional; anti-lock brakes were standard.
In addition to the XLS and XLT trims, Ford launched a new "Adrenalin" options package (which would evolve into a full-fledged trim the following year) targeted at young drivers looking for flash and performance.
Under the hood, the '03 Ford Explorer Sport Trac had an unexciting but reliable 4.0 liter V6 engine. Four-wheel drive was an option for a couple of thousand bucks, and most of the '03 Explorer Sport Trac's buyers sprung for it (why get a rugged SUV/pickup hybrid if you're not going to take it off-road?)
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