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Explorer Express: The finest Explorer parts and accessories

X Hits The Spot
by Matt Stone

When it comes to upgrading a vehicle's performance, balance is everything. Well-matched, high quality components balanced to work with each other can improve the way your truck or sport/ute accelerates, handles, stops, or rides. Buy mismatched goods, and you may actually be spending money to make your machine slower, sloppier, harsher, or even unsafe.

Dave and Pat Vanek of Explorer Express understand these concepts. The result of their R&D efforts is a comprehensive catalog of parts and accessories made just for Ford's number one selling Explorer. Explorer Express is now constructing turn-key vehicles, and we recently put its supercharged demonstrator through its paces. Dave will tell you he wanted the typical guy stuff - more acceleration, better handling, and aggressive looks. Pat then reminds you that, while women can and do appreciate the above, they won't stand for a punishing ride, poor reliability, or sky-high cost. Fortunately, the Vaneks' blend of upgrades should make everyone happy.

More go comes in the form of an internally stock 5.0-liter V-8, packing Explorer Express's own Eaton-based supercharger kit. This is the first application of the Eaton blower on a 5.0-liter V-8 Explorer that we've tested; most tuners employ a Vortech or Powerdyne unit. Additional power upgrades include a K&N air filter and Express's 3 inch diameter cat-back exhaust system. We obtained 0-60 times of 7.3 seconds, a huge improvement of 3.4 seconds over stock, and quite comparable to the 7.4 we cranked out of the Saleen Explorer ("Truck Trends," April '98). Both deliver the punch where you need them: away from the light, merging on the freeway, and in towing situations, where low-end torque supersedes the need for high-rpm horsepower. Dave rates the blown 5.0 at 285 horsepower, a 75-pony increase over stock. An Express-spec Trans-Go shift kit sharpens the reflexes of the Ford E40D automatic, making for crisper up and downshifts.

The Vaneks worked with name-brand suspension component providers to calibrate hardware specifically for Explorer Express. SwayAway provides the anti-roll bars, while Edelbrock spent a considerable amount of time on the shock dyno finding the just the right combination for the ride and handling desired. The Euro-flavor wheels are 17x7.5-inch Team Dynamics DTM units, wrapped by Pirelli Scorpion Zeros. These high-performance tires are specifically designed for light trucks and sport/utility vehicles; this Explorer wears 275/55ZR17s. The Express suspension package lowers the all-wheel-drive rig about 1.75 inches. SVT Mustang Cobra calipers and 13-inch rotors are substituted for the stock front brakes, while the rear units and stock ABS are left alone.

The rest of the Explorer Express mods are fairly straightforward: a bit of body-colored trim, Cord running boards, an Express front air dam with integral PIAA Pro 90 driving lights, and a sport grille insert-replete with a 5.0 badge right off a Mustang.

Perhaps most impressive is how downright easy-to-live-with the Express is. Definite, measurable improvements are achieved in every performance aspect (see chart), yet the ride feels no harsher than stock. The blower system is quiet and appears to cause no bad habits in terms of driveability. The float and wallow so common to stock SUVs are gone, and the steering feel and response are much better. It's clear the components in the Explorer Express package work well together in a very balanced (there's that word again) manner.



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Explorer Express is a registered trademark and subsidiary of Z DOCTOR INC.
Explorer Express is not related in any way to the Ford Motor Company.
The words "Ford" and "Explorer" are trademarks of the Ford Motor Company and are used for descriptive purposes only.
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