In 2001, Ford's original Explorer Sport Trac sport utility vehicle/pickup crossover debuted. The Explorer Sport Trac expanded Ford's Explorer lineup and brought a fresh face to the company's best-selling SUV, then in its seventh year. Thanks to a considerable freshening for 2006, today's third-generation Explorer suffers no age malady, and the 2007 Explorer Sport Trac doesn't add much new jazz beyond its pickup bed. Still, the new model improves vastly upon the old with larger dimensions, more safety features and an available V-8 engine.
Competitors include crew-cab pickups like the Honda Ridgeline, Dodge Dakota Quad Cab and Nissan Frontier Crew Cab. The five-passenger Explorer Sport Trac adapts an independent rear suspension from the Explorer — a setup that usually trades offroad capability for on-road handling prowess — that's only matched by the Ridgeline. Explorer Sport Tracs are built in Louisville, Ky., and hit dealerships in spring 2006.
The 2007 Explorer Sport Trac wears the same slatted grille and scalloped headlights as the Explorer, but adds nearly 17 inches in length to accommodate a 4.2-foot pickup bed replete with side rails, tie-down hooks, a composite liner and three in-floor storage containers. Ford ran the bed through a series of tests it calls The Hay Bale, The Drum Drop and Two Fat Farmers, which involved 55-gallon drums, 300-pound sandbags and plenty of hay. Unfortunately, these accessories are not available on the production model.
The Explorer Sport Trac is available in two trim levels: XLT and Limited. XLT models start with gray bumper cladding, black roof rails and 16-inch wheels. Limited editions upgrade to 18-inch wheels, body-colored bumpers, silver roof rails and fog lamps. Options include a heated windshield and a moonroof.
Dashboard components mimic the 2006 Explorer: A tall center stack has radio controls above the air vents, and connects to a floor-mounted console box below. XLT models get a full complement of standard power equipment. The Limited trim level adds a few items but mostly opens the door to a variety of luxury options, including dual-zone automatic climate control and 10-way power front seats.
Front bucket seats and a three-place second-row bench provide seating for up to five occupants. The cabin doesn't have a conversion feature for extending the cargo bed like the larger Chevrolet Avalanche does.
Under the Hood
Available engines are identical to those in the Explorer: a 4.0-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower and 254 pounds-feet of torque, and a 4.6-liter V-8 that produces 292 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque. The V-6 works with a five-speed-automatic transmission while the V-8 drives a six-speed automatic.
When properly equipped, the Explorer Sport Trac can tow up to 6,800 pounds — a considerable increase over the 5,080 pounds the first-generation truck could handle.
All-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with rollover mitigation are standard. Rollover mitigation, in the form of Ford's Roll Stability Control, senses impending rollovers and attempts to prevent them by applying individual brakes.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard and side curtain-type airbags for both rows are optional.
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