The two-door Explorer arriving in showrooms has new styling for 2001 and the four-door Explorer gets a redesign for 2001 but it doesn't come out until this fall.

The two-door Explorer Sport is designed to attract youth who can't afford the four-door or who don't have kids and don't find four doors a pressing issue.

Considering the difficulty in getting people or things into the back seat of the Explorer Sport, might as well waste the inconvenience on youth.

The Sport is nearly a styling carbon copy of the Sport Trac with its F-150 honeycomb grille, plastic lower-body cladding and flared fenders. There's a bold, rugged almost surly look to the Sport. The styling effect wouldn't have been as appealing if gas prices reached $2 a gallon.

The 4-liter V-6 that powers the Sport Trac does the same for the Sport, only the fuel economy rating is 15/19, or 1 m.p.g. less city and highway in this 4x4 than in the Sport Trac 4x2.

The Sport also is built on a much shorter 101.8-inch wheelbase and is only 180.4 inches long overall. The shorter wheelbase makes the suspension's up-and-down movement more pronounced than in the longer Sport Trac. Adding to the movement were the optional 16-inch radials instead of the standard 15-inch treads.

The 4x4 system is Ford's dial-up unit. Twist the lever from 2W to 4W hi to 4W lo. No fuss, no muss, no lever to pull.

While Sport's two fewer doors makes hauling people in back a chore, you can pile a load of gear through the rear hatch. Fold the rear seats and haul even more gear. Just don't expect to slip a lot of gear into the back when getting in either front door. If ever there was a need for one of those pickup-like rear side access doors, the two-door Sport is one.

Base price is $24,695 for the 4x4, $22,225 for the 4x2 for those who live outside the Snow Belt.

Standard equipment includes four-wheel ABS, air conditioning, floor mats, privacy glass, power windows/locks/mirrors, rear window wiper/washer/defroster, and luggage rack.

Like the Sport Trac, there are lots of pricy options, most of which aren't needed.

>> 2001 Ford Explorer Sport 4x4 Wheelbase: 101.8 inches Length: 180.4 inches Engine: 4-liter, 205-h.p., SOHC V-6 Transmission: 5-speed automatic Fuel economy: 15 m.p.g. city/19 m.p.g. highway Base price: $24,695 Price as tested: $28,150. Includes $510 for AM-FM stereo/clock/six-disc CD changer, skid plates and limited slip rear axle; $750 for convenience group; $1,495 for leather comfort group; and $700 for premium sport group. Add $550 for freight. Pluses: Redesign with front end cloned from the full-size F-150 pickup. Sporty plastic lower body cladding and wheel-lip extensions. Good cargo room in back. Dial up 4WD. ABS standard. Minuses: Two-door with difficult access to second seats. >>