Ever since buying my 2011 Ford Explorer 4X4 back in the spring of this year, one of the most mentioned subjects about this generation of the vehicle in forums that I’ve read is the desire for a 5th Generation Ford Explorer 4X4 Suspension Lift Kit. Why? Because ground clearance is very low… especially in the front.
In the months that I’ve driven this Explorer, I’ve had to re-attach the front air dam a few times. The air dam is so low that it often scrapes parking blocks and pavement in the case of sharp dips or inclines in the road surface. It’s not what one expects in an Explorer.
It’s well known that this 5th generation of the Ford Explorer is a different creature than the previous generations. One of the biggest differences is that it is now a unibody instead of body-on-frame vehicle. Many people say that this changes the classification of the vehicle to a CUV (or even just a car) from it’s previous classification as an SUV. Ford, however, still refers to it as an SUV.But it appears that Ford’s idea of SUV has changed with this new Explorer.
This chassis is shared with the Taurus and displays many characteristics of being based on a car platform; such as its low-ish road clearance of 7.6 inches. The result with the unibody suspension is that the Explorer can no longer be lifted and the suspension beefed up the way one would desire. It seems that this version of the Explorer, even in it’s 4X4 configuration, is not meant to be very off-road worthy. This Explorer will certainly never be a rock crawler. But it does have the capability to be competent in unpaved conditions.
For me, that isn’t a real problem. I don’t ever go that far off road in a vehicle. However, I would like to add a mild lift to the suspension to achieve better clearance for park roads and fire roads. I’m not going where there are no roads — but i may go where the roads are unpaved and get a little rough. And it would be great to add another couple inches of clearance under the vehicle to reduce the likelihood of damaging exposed components underneath.
Until recently, there haven’t been any options with lifting the suspension outside of custom fabrication. This would tend to be costly and would almost certainly void warranties from the manufacturer.
A few days ago, I was browsing explorerforum.com and found a post that talked about Traxda’s new lift kit for the 5th Generation Ford Explorer. The door has been opened and now there is at least one option for lifting the suspension on this vehicle!
Traxda’s kit costs less than $400 and can be installed in about 3 hours. It does require re-alignment and the specs are provided. The kit raises the front 2.25″ and the rear 1.75″ without requiring modifications to the vehicle. Everything is direct bolt-in and Traxda states that it maintains the stock ride of the truck. The original struts and shocks do not have to be replaced.
I called Traxda to inquire about the ruggedness and build quality of the components. The rep stated that the kit is intended for performance – not just good looks. The components are made of top quality materials with high quality welds and powder coating here in the USA.
Hopefully, there will soon be a post in the forums by someone who has installed this kit and will report how good or bad it is. I’m eager to find out because I really want to add this modification to my Explorer.
One thing is for sure, though – now that one kit has been produced and been made available there will be others to come. It’s going to be fun to find out how much the 5th Generation Ford Explorer platform can be modified and made more rugged than what the conservative engineering team over at Ford delivered.