Reviews

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Road Test

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Just the thought of throwing ten dirty bags of compost into the back of an SUV makes me cringe. Getting the carpet clean means an afternoon at the car wash.

Ford s Explorer Sport Trac solves such a dilemma because the half-SUV, half-pickup has a small open bed to accommodate all manner of things that you would just as soon not have inside your vehicle. That includes muddy mountain bikes, snowblowers, mulch or camping gear. It is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive.

The 2007 Sport Trac is quite a change from the original because it is based on the new Explorer chassis. It is more comfortable, more civilized and larger.

Source: Autoweek
Category:$24,000 – $30,000 Mid-sized Sport Utility Pickup
Who
should buy
this car:
If you are looking for a comfortable, pickup truck that is equally competent off-road and on-road, the new
Explorer Sport Trac is hard to beat
Comparable
cars in
this class:
Dodge Dakota, Honda Ridgeline, Mitsubishi Raider, Isuzu i-Series, Subaru Baja, Toyota Tacoma

The Sport Trac is the same as the Explorer from the front doors forward. It shares the chrome-finished grille, aluminum hood and pronounced wheel arches. The rear doors are unique to the Sport Trac because back of the cab has a curved shape to provide visual separation between the cabin and the bed.

The 4.5-foot cargo box is made of corrosion-proof sheet molded composite. The liner is molded in. The box is notched so owners can place two 2-by-4 boards across the span to provide tiered storage of materials. The outer shell has six tie-down anchors.

Three cargo bins are integrated into the box. Two, each about the size of a car battery, are in the floor on each side toward the back. The third runs the width of the box headboard. All have weather-resistant lids and removable drain plugs for storing wet gear or ice.

The test truck was equipped with a two-section, hard bed cover that has to be removed to haul tall things. I did manage to remove it myself, but its a job made easier with two people. A better solution would be to have each section removable individually.

Even though the bed is only 4.5 feet long, it can easily be extended by leaving the tailgate open and folding out the optional tubular bed extender.

One huge advantage of the new Explorers chassis is an independent rear suspension that rides smoother than a solid axle and gives more carlike handling. It also intrudes less on cargo space.

The Sport Tracs frame is patterned after that of the F-150 pickup. The tube-through-tube design makes the frame stronger, and its resistance to bending and twisting is greater by four times. A stiff frame means the suspension can be tuned for a more compliant ride.

Engine choices include a 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 and a 292-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 that has 53 horses more than last year. The V-8 and its six-speed automatic transmission is my engine of choice, especially for towing or hauling heavy loads. It has 300 pound-feet of torque, variable cam timing and three-valve cylinder heads.

The V-8 accelerates well all across the rpm range and it is free from vibration or harshness. The six-speed automatic transmission has a gear for almost every situation and shifts are barely noticeable. Maximum towing capacity is 6,800 pounds with two-wheel drive.

The test truck, a V-8-powered, four-wheel-drive Limited, had a base price of $29,540.

The four-wheel-drive system automatically transfers torque to the front wheels as needed to maintain traction. The transfer case also has an extra-low gear for off-road use.

The Sport Tracs interior is shared with the Explorer, and it has a strong family resemblance to the F-150 pickup. Large dials dominate the drivers view, while the center stack has been simplified with flat knobs and push buttons. A tall gearshift is mounted on the console, which has two cup holders and a storage bin.

The cabin is much quieter than before. A variety of new materials were selected for the headliner, door panels and floor to dampen vibration and absorb noise.

The front seats were comfortable and easy to adjust. A large armrest on each door panel has a flat door handle integrated into the top. It takes time to get used to the unusual location of the door handle.

Ford has added some advanced safety equipment to the Explorer. The passenger seat can detect up to five different-size occupants, seatbelt load limiters have three resistance levels depending on the size of the person, and a crash sensor mounted in the console determines the severity of a crash and adjusts protection accordingly.

The Sport Trac has standard roll-stability control. Side canopy airbags with rollover protection for the front and second-row seats are optional.

An energy-absorbing steering column collapses in an accident, but it has an adaptive feature that tailors the rate of collapse according to the conditions of the accident.

Price: The V-8, four-wheel-drive Explorer Sport Trac Limited has a base price of $29,540. With leather seats, power sunroof, hard tonneau cover, side-canopy airbags, bed extender, roof rain crossbars and power adjustable pedals, the sticker price is $34,695.

Specifications

V-6V-8
Engine Type4.0 liter SOHC 12-valve V6 with cast iron
block and aluminum heads
4.6 liter SOHC 24-valve V8 with variable valve timing, cast
iron block and aluminum heads
Horsepower210 @ 5,100 RPM292 @ 5,750 RPM
Torque254 ft-lbs. @ 3,700 RPM300 ft-lbs. @ 3,950 RPM
Fuel
Recommended
Regular UnleadedRegular Unleaded
Transmissions5 speed Automatic Transmission6 speed Automatic Transmission
Drive Type
(std)
Drive Type
(opt.)
Rear-wheel driveFour-wheel drive
TiresP235/70R16P235/70R16
Overall Length210.2″210.2″
Wheelbase130.5″130.5″
Width73.7″73.7″
Turning
Diameter
41 ft Curb to Curb41 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight4,516 lb4,516 lb
Fuel Tank22.5 Gals.22.5 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon15 City / 21 Highway15 City / 21 Highway
Base Sticker Price (SE)$24,245 plus $695 destination charge$24,245 plus $695 destination charge

 

Standard Equipment
(partial list)

Major Available Options
(Depending on model. Some options are only available as part of a package. See your Ford dealer for details)

 

For more information on the Explorer, visit fordvehicles.com

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Author

Tom Strongman

Automotive Expert

Tom Strongman began writing about automobiles for The Kansas City Star 20 years ago. He was the full-time Automotive Editor from 1991 to 2001. Now he is a Contributing Editor who works on contract for the paper. His syndicated column also appears in The St. Louis Suburban Journals and The Columbus Dispatch. He writes a bi-monthly column for AAA's Home and Away Magazine. Strongman's "Behind the Wheel" segment airs weekly on KSHB Channel 41 in Kansas City.

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