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An interesting hybrid of SUV and crew-cab pickup, the Sport Trac is comfortable and functional.
Unique combination of cargo bed and regular SUV, strong V6, optional cargo items improve versatility.
Can't offer the true cargo-hauling ability of a pickup, can't offer the true family utility of an SUV.
The Sport Trac is an offshoot of the SUV. Basically, Ford has grafted a small cargo bed to the back of a heavily revised Ford Explorer.
Just when you thought the SUV market couldn't get any bigger, along comes the Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Not quite a pickup truck, not quite an SUV, the Sport Trac takes elements from both to create a whole new type of Ford vehicle.
Marketed as a truck for people with active lifestyles, the 2001 Explorer Sport Trac is based on the Explorer platform. From the C-pillar forward, the Sport Trac is a five-passenger SUV. Rearward of the C-pillar, there's a one-piece, all-composite cargo area. Made of durable sheet-molding composite, it has molded-in texture and a mar-resistant low-gloss coating. The cargo area is normally 4 feet in length, but an optional cargo keeper expands the utility of the cargo area. This U-shaped tubular device hinges on the interior sides of the cargo area and rests on the cargo floor. When flipped out over Explorer Sport Trac's tailgate, it extends the cargo area length to almost 6 feet.
There's also an optional two-piece foldable and lockable hard tonneau cover to provide protection for items contained in the cargo area. It comes with a removable divider that increases storage flexibility for the cargo area.
All Explorer Sport Trac models are equipped with Ford's proven 4.0-liter V6 engine. This single-overhead cam motor, which produces 206 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 238 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm, is linked to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is optional. All models can tow up to 5,300 pounds.
Explorer Sport Trac shares its basic front and rear suspension geometry with the existing redesigned four-door Ford Explorer. However, Ford says the Sport Trac's bushings, spring rates, shock valving and stabilizer bars have been modified for improved ride, handling and noise/vibration/harshness performance.
All Explorer Sport Trac models come with a standard four-wheel antilock braking system. The system controls the front wheels independently and the rear wheels in tandem to improve vehicle control under heavy braking in most operating conditions. The system includes dynamic rear proportioning to help optimize stopping performance under varying vehicle load conditions.
While you can look forward to more manufacturers entering this unique niche, the Sport Trac's main competitors at this point are the Nissan Frontier Crew Cab and Dodge Dakota Quad Cab. The Nissan and Dodge vehicles are based off pickup trucks, but both are similar in that they compromise between the true truck and SUV abilities. What does this mean? If you want to haul stuff around, buy a Ford F-150 with a full-size bed. It works better. If you want to haul a family around, buy an Explorer. It works better. But if you need both, the Sport Trac compromise between pickup and sport-ute might suit you.
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