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Everyone wants the best of both worlds, don't they? Or like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the middle-sized one is just right, not too big and not too small.
Such could be the case for many of you in the truck- and/or SUV-buyers' market when the discussion turns to this new Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Sure it's not too big (like an Expedition) and it's not too small (like an Escape), but it's also a pickup truck and an SUV all in one tidy package. And while the Ford F-150 Super Crew (too big), Nissan Frontier Crew Cab (too small) and Dodge Dakota Quad Cab (just right) all have four doors and a pickup bed, they're all based on trucks, and not an SUV like an Explorer. However, an Explorer is based on a Ranger, so think of the Sport Trac as a truck once removed.
While this SUV seems to be a terrific idea, some on our staff have a strong dislike for the Sport Trac and we'll get to those comments in due time. But first there's plenty to recommend the Sport Trac, especially if you're torn between a pickup and a utility vehicle. In short, the Trac offers the utility of both and does so with an impressive array of functional bits.
First let's discuss the SUV side of the ledger. The Sport Trac is based on the standard four-door Explorer with a 14.25-inch-longer frame. The Trac's frame is also 40-percent stiffer than a regular Explorer and it's equipped with larger brake rotors and different suspension tuning in the rear. The added frame strength was achieved with additional gusseting on the longitudinal beams, a new tubular crossmember and thicker frame side rails. Unwanted road noise was also reduced by the use of urethane body mounts rather than solid rubber ones.
Like legions of Explorers, the Sport Trac comes with a tried-and-true 4.0-liter, SOHC V6 that makes 205 horsepower at 5,250 rpm. The Sport Trac is no lightweight, weighing more than 2 tons, so the 240 foot-pounds of torque this engine produces at 3,750 rpm doesn't go to waste. That heft costs you at the pump, too, as we recorded a thirsty 14.4 mpg average during our seat time. The Trac also comes with a five-speed automatic gearbox that's been available on the Explorer (and Ranger pickup) for the last few years.
The truck side of things is where the Trac gets interesting, starting with its all-composite cargo bed. The sheet molded composite (SMC) plastic bed won't rust and it provides 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space. It's also 20-percent lighter than a steel box, which helps handling and fuel efficiency. There's also a power rear glass window that goes up and down at the touch of a switch on the dashboard, allowing you to carry long items that might not fit in the bed.
Besides what amounts to a built-in bedliner, the back of this machine has other innovations, such as a weatherproof 12-volt powerpoint to use such items as portable refrigerators or an inflator to fill up an air mattress. This could come in real handy while camping or pursuing other outdoor activities. There are also a total of 10 cargo hooks -- six on the outside and four in the bed -- to keep items from moving around while underway. A locking two-piece hard tonneau cover and a cargo area divider are also available, but our black test vehicle did not come equipped with these items. It did, however, come with an indispensable cargo cage that we've seen in a number of aftermarket applications such as on full-size trucks like the F-150 or Silverado.
But full-size trucks don't have a need for this device as much as the Sport Trac does, because the extra 22 inches of length it provides makes the Trac's cargo hold considerably larger. When the cargo cage is deployed, the Sport Trac's cargo box has roughly the scale of a Ranger pickup's standard bed. At 195 bucks we consider it a crucial option.
It works by lowering that Sport Trac's F-150-sourced tailgate and locking the cage into place on the open gate, thus providing a lateral and longitudinal barrier. Furthermore, when stored in the bed with the tailgate up, the cage serves as a divider for the cargo area and controls the movement of small items (grocery bags, for example) in the cargo area.
Yeah, the Sport Trac has a bunch of useful features, but how does it drive? In short, don't expect the same driving experience of a sport sedan or coupe, but the ride is good enough for comfy highway cruising. As for empirical testing numbers, the story's the same there. Don't bother pushing the Sport Trac by being a back road hero or hot dogging it at your local Stoplight Nationals. Sixty mph is achieved in 9.8 seconds and the quarter-mile is leisurely covered in 17.4 seconds at 79.5 mph. On the skidpad, the Trac pulls .70 g and stopping from 60 mph is achieved in 130 feet. We then trotted the Explorer pickup/SUV hybrid through our 600-foot slalom at 56.2 mph.
We enjoyed the Sport Trac on a weekend jaunt to the San Bernardino Mountains and Lake Arrowhead about 120 miles east of the City of Angels. It pulled up mountain grades with ease, handled tight roads as well as we could expect for a vehicle with a high center of gravity, and its interior coddled us with comfortable luxury. While it was a nice trip, our persnickety staff had its share of gripes about this unique hybrid that clearly isn't going to please everyone all the time. There's also the fact that in the real world, there isn't quite the covered and protected space for passengers and cargo that you would get in a standard Explorer or other SUV. You can fold the rear seat, but then there's room for only two. That's a compromise you have to make for having the outside cargo box. The optional locking tonneau cover helps matters somewhat, but if you can't squeeze everything under it, items are exposed to both the elements and the possibility of theft.
Associate editor Liz Kim, who admits to being "real sensitive about the cars I'm seen in," said she was ducking her head while driving to avoid receiving attention. She felt that people were thinking, "For heaven's sake make up your mind. Do you want an SUV or a pickup? Because that thing you're driving sure is ugly."
Liz also had some advice for prospective shoppers when she said, "If you want a pickup that can also haul four or five people, get a Dakota Quad Cab. It's only 10 inches longer and has a bigger bed."
Styling opinions aside, staffer Karl Brauer also wasn't too hip on the "Dork Trac," as he called it. His biggest gripe was with handling dynamics: "The Sport Trac feels too squishy around corners -- just like every Explorer I've ever driven. The Sport Trac has a comfy enough ride on the boulevard, but try to take a corner at even modest speeds and the thing wallows and rolls like a 1950s Buick."
Sometimes sharp of tongue, big cheese Chris Wardlaw had some notable praise for the Sport Trac. He relates: "Despite a mediocre showing in our SUV comparison test, and the fact that it's the first vehicle I've ever driven to leave me stranded by the side of the road, I'm a fan of the existing, outgoing Ford Explorer SUV. It does most things well and nothing poorly, much in the way of a Honda Accord. So it's no surprise that the Sport Trac pleases me. Its cabin updates are much appreciated, like the revised gauge cluster, in-dash CD changer and silver plastic trim. I also like the juxtaposition of blending leather and rear climate/audio controls with the black, hose-it-out rubber floor surfaces and standard steel wheels. There's something very urban-chic about the Sport Trac's style."
His thoughts on handling dynamics were quite the opposite of staffer Brauer's observations, "The Sport Trac handled stop-and-go traffic, twisty canyon roads, tight alleyways and 80-mph freeway cruising with aplomb during my long commute."
So there you have it, a vehicle with as much varying opinion as the variations of the vehicle itself. If Swiss Army Knife-like versatility is what you're after, then Ford's wild, wacky, and somewhat pricey Explorer Sport Trac is definitely worthy of your attention when the time comes to making a final SUV (or is that pickup truck?) purchasing decision.
The Sport Trac is based on the standard four-door Explorer with a 14.25-inch longer frame. The Trac's frame is also 40 percent stiffer than a regular Explorer and it's equipped with larger brake rotors and different suspension tuning.
Like on legions of Explorers, the Sport Trac comes with a tried-and-true 4.0-liter SOHC V6 that makes 205 horsepower at 5,250 rpm. The Sport Trac is no lightweight, weighing more than 2 tons, so the 240 foot-pounds of torque this engine produces at 3,750 rpm doesn't go to waste.
The truck side of things is where the Trac gets interesting, starting with its composite cargo bed. The sheet molded composite (SMC) plastic bed won't rust and it provides 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space. It's also 20-percent lighter than a steel box, which helps handling and fuel efficiency.
The Sport Trac has a bunch of useful features, but how does it drive? In short, don't expect the same driving experience of a sport sedan or coupe, but the ride is good enough for comfy highway cruising.
If Swiss Army Knife-like versatility is what you're after, then Ford's wild, wacky, and somewhat pricey Explorer Sport Trac is definitely worthy of your attention when the time comes to make a final SUV (or is that pickup truck?) purchasing decision.
System Score: 4.0
Components. This system presents a nicely designed faceplate with very user-friendly controls. The radio offers 12 FM and six AM radio presets, plus a number of nice features, such as a large, round volume knob, a very bright LED display, and wide spacing between the presets. The heart of the system is an in-dash six-disc CD changer, front and center, which makes for very handy loading and unloading of CDs. On the downside, the 6-inch full-range speakers in the front and rear doors are rudimentary in design and placement, with no separate tweeters to augment the sound and no subwoofer to boost the bass. On top of that, these are some of the ugliest speaker grilles we've seen in a while.
Performance. By Ford standards, this system is a major letdown. It lacks sonically in several areas, producing a sound that disappoints more often than it impresses. For instance, the anemic power amplifier cannot effectively drive the speakers, leaving them to fend for themselves when the source material gets challenging. As a result, highs are grainy, scratchy and "hissy," while bass response is thin, hollow and flabby. Mids also lack depth and detail. This system needs a lot of help.
Best Feature: In-dash CD changer.
Worst Feature: Poor sound quality, funky-looking speaker grilles.
Conclusion. This isn't a very good-sounding system. We strongly suggest stepping up to the optional $510 audio package, which includes a subwoofer, much more power, and six vs. four speakers. Although we haven't had a chance to listen to that system yet, anything would be an improvement over this lackluster performer, and the price is pretty reasonable. Ford is known for putting out some of the best OEM audio systems in the business, but this one won't help their reputation. -- Scott Memmer
2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac (Topic #989)
527 responses, 0 new, Last post on Sun 30 Apr '00 at 08:04 AM
#27 of 526: Proud owner of Ford Sport Trac (wts) Mon 14 Feb '00 (10:10 AM)
I actually purchased a Ford Sport Trac on Friday, Feb. 11 and it is wonderful. The backseat has a tremendous amount of leg and head room. The driving experience is smooth with plenty of power in the engine. After test-driving the Dodge Quad Cab and the Nissan Crew Cab, there is no comparison for the space and ride of the Ford Sport Trac. I am so glad I waited to test-drive the Ford Sport Trac. I could not be happier.
#102 of 526: Got one (davdoc) Sat 11 Mar '00 (08:12 AM)
...The truck is fun to drive, can hold all five members of my family (including one in a car seat) and gives me the cargo flexibility [that] my car and our Pontiac Montana do not.
#146 of 526: Bought Toreadore (sic) red 4x4 (exskwid) Sat 18 Mar '00 (04:51 PM)
Bought one 3/15/00 from Empire Ford in Abington, VA. Got it below list (but not by much, that's OK got a good trade) and it is the only Sporty I have ever seen in the whole area (East Tenn, NW NC, SW VA, SE KY). LOVE it!! Everywhere I go I am mobbed. Ride is superb, 4x4 functions perfectly and I got one with everything but the 6 disc and leather. I especially love the cloth seat material.... Was gonna buy a truck but one ride convinced me. Has the storage room I need and the 4 person comfort ride that is mandatory in this class.
#211 of 526: Bought New Sport Trac (leggs1) Mon 27 Mar '00 (12:54 PM)
We have been looking for a while for a new vehicle and couldn't decide between a truck or an SUV and then I read the information on Edmund's regarding the Ford Sport Trac. Sounded like the perfect solution so I called our local dealership and asked if they had any. [The salesperson] said they had gotten one in the color white but she did not expect it to last long.... We got there, took one look, one test drive, came back in to the dealership and my husband and I both were in agreement -- we were ready to make a deal! I thought I would hate the color white but with the grey leather interior and black bedliner, roof rack, etc. and later the black tonneau cover it is absolutely beautiful. What a head turner! Ours is loaded, leather group, 6 disc cd changer, moonroof, etc. Drives like a dream, has plenty of room. We are very happy with our choice. I would recommend this vehicle to anyone like us who would like to have a truck but don't really need a big truck and like the convenience and comfort of the SUV.... I've driven a Toyota Tacoma for the past 3 years -- what a relief to get out of that!
#356 of 526: Just took delivery of 4x4 (mdemarco) Sun 16 Apr '00 (06:56 AM)
I ordered my 4x4 ST around Feb 21 and received it on April 14th (about 8 weeks). I gave up an F-150 4x2 for the ST for better ride, smaller size, more comfort. So far I love the vehicle.
2K Ford Explorer Sport Trac's (Topic #1847)
621 responses, 148 new, Last post on Sun 25 Jun '00 at 07:16 AM
#2 of 620: New ST purchase from Wickstrom (brand42) Sun 30 Apr '00 (07:12 PM)
I just purchased a white, fully loaded 4x4 from Wickstrom Ford in Barrington, IL. They had 2 on the lot. I inquired about ordering a hard top, but decided to wait for other aftermarket suppliers because of the demand and uncertainty of the quality. I had a '99 Eddie Bauer, and the ride and handling on the Sport Trac blows the doors off the Explorer! I test-drove both, and you could definitely tell the difference with the extended wheelbase.... For any dog owners out there, I was concerned about putting my dog in the backseat and having her scratch the leather. You can put the backseats down which provides a nice bed for her/him, and they LOVE sticking their heads out of the rear window. I would be happy to answer any questions, and would love to hear any feedback on a V8 release. I still think I would stick with the V6 over the V8 because of the V6's outstanding reviews. I own an auto parts store, and the V6 hasn't had any problems since its introduction a few years back. You'll sacrifice some torque, but you only miss it if you're hauling boats or trailers every day.
#58 of 620: Dakota Quad Cab (rontroll) Fri 05 May '00 (08:41 PM) Editors note: This person chose a Sport Trac over a Dakota Quad Cab.
I spent some time looking and driving the Dakota Quad Cab. I was about ready to buy one when our Ford dealer put a Sport Trac on his showroom floor. I about lost my mind when I saw it. I never went back to Dodge. I was also impressed to see all the Sport Trac's standard equipment. With the Dodge EVERYTHING seemed to cost more money. I've had my ST for about a week now. I love it. I have people ask me about it all the time. For all of you who have yours ordered, hang in there. It will be well worth the wait. (Easy for me to say with mine in the garage!)
#109 of 620: Off the Lot (smellone) Fri 12 May '00 (09:22 AM) Editors note: This person chose a Sport Trac over an F-150.
I have been shopping for an ST for the last two weeks (Milwaukee area). Out of the 8 or so Ford dealers in the area, each had 1 or 2 on the lot, although most were 2WD. I finally found a black 4WD loaded at a dealership in a more rundown section of town. They had it for 4 weeks (had old list price) without even taking the plastic off the seats. Black wasn't my first color choice, but it looks very sharp and the lead times on ordering were way too long. Almost 90% of the trucks in stock were black. The truck has 4WD, 4.1l axle, leather, moonroof, 6cd player, skid plates, cargo cage, sport package, etc. I bought it for $350 over invoice. It's an awesome truck, a perfect combination of inside room/cargo room and an open bed for large items. I haul skids of material that is 3-4 feet tall which I could never fit in my Explorer (or anything short of a full size van). I bought it to replace a 95 Explorer XLT and it handles and rides better and is quieter. No problems with leaky roof or anything else for that matter. I also considered an F-150 but my wife has enough trouble parking her minivan next to my Explorer in our garage. Also, she occasionally drives my vehicle and the F-150 was too intimidating for her. I drive 30K miles a year and while the F150 drives very nice its still not nearly as maneuverable as the ST.
#211 of 620: Got it! (tae121) Tue 23 May '00 (10:04 AM)
I just picked up my ST last night and I love it! I purchased the Toreador Red with dark graphite interior, 4x4, convenience group, cloth comfort, sport package, 6 disc changer, moonroof, and cargo cage (which will be installed in about 3 days when it comes in). So far, no leaks with the moonroof - it's been raining all day. I've already noticed a big difference from my '97 Explorer Sport - much, much smoother and quieter ride. I've also noticed a lot more looks from people passing by, but that will change soon when there's more ST's on the road. I kind of like the attention! Anyone considering the 6 disc changer option should definitely get it. It sells for about $480 more aftermarket. Also, purchased the 5yr, 100,000 mile extended warranty because of the Explorer transmission horror stories I've heard and my high mileage driving habits.
#366 of 620: Solved Leaky Roof ()Tue 06 Jun '00 (06:17 PM)
My ST has been to the dealer 3... yes 3 times for a leaky roof. First they found the drain hose detached from the sunroof. By the 3rd time, they held the truck for 3 days for testing. The fix, believe it or not, was to place SS hose clamps on the drain hoses leading from the sunroof. Sounds like a major problem with close tolerance of parts, but it did fix the problem. I am in South Jersey and we have had some wicked rain storms lately, with no leaks. In ref. to one of your previous posts, I do have a slight "shimmy" at low idle and turning the wheel hard.
I am also having some problems with the drivers seat. It squeaks like an old lawn chair. The dealer ordered a new seat track for me, but I need to get the truck there for a day.
#406 of 620: Still loving our ST (dolphins66) Sun 11 Jun '00 (07:06 AM)
lrwizard: I agree with all of your comments about the ST. My husband and I have had ours for a little over three weeks and have had no problems with interior noise at higher speeds, the 6-CD changer stereo is indeed great (we have a 1995 Explorer Expedition which basically is a limited Sport and we have 6 speakers in there and that stereo doesn't sound as good as this one). In terms of the ride, it's a smoother ride than even some of the cars that we test drove during our shopping experience. We're not quite sure about the "head-turning ratio" because we're still too busy driving and enjoying the vehicle to be watching anyone else.... We aren't heavy haulers but we have much more easily hauled our fishing gear, beach gear and plants/trees/flowers from Lowe's and have found the bed practical for our needs. It's much easier using the bed than it is hauling things in the back of our '95 Explorer. Although we do have a liner to protect the carpet, it isn't the same as or as simple as using the bed. My husband had a 1987 Toyota pickup before this so he is just in heaven with this new vehicle. Remember folks, this is NOT a "cute" truck as I have heard people call it, it is a "ruggedly handsome" vehicle, as my husband stated.
#454 of 620: Some ST Observations (caltrac) Tue 13 Jun '00 (08:48 PM) I bought my new ST about three weeks ago. It's a white 4X4 with all the options the dealer could let me order (and the factory install at that time)... and there's the rub. Apparently Ford was so hot to get this vehicle to market, it failed (miserably) to support promised and advertised options in their marketing brochures with parts ordering info and prices at the dealerships.
Anyone remember (or try to order) the $590 hard tonneau cover depicted in the brochure (and discussed in the owner's manual!)? I sure do. With money literally burning a hole in my pocket for that (and many other options) I was told for that and numerous other accessories, sorry, we can't sell it to you "Ford doesn't have that in the parts system."
Today I got a call back from my dealer informing me that Ford has published the parts number and price and can now accept orders for the hard tonneau cover for a whopping $1034!... nearly twice as much (as is currently listed at the FORD Web site). This is the most flagrant act of price gouging I have heard of outside of a German car factory. Needless to say, even the dealer's Part Dept rep was ashamed at the price. ( I suppose Ford might have a separate engine in that tonneau cover. That might begin to account for the incredibly ridiculous price.) At that price all I can say is Roll-top... here I come.
The vehicle is indeed comfortable, well appointed, handles nicely and is truly fun to operate. As many have noted, it is a nearly perfectly executed design for the hybrid SUV/pickup and unless you plan on using it for real work (get an F-150 SuperCrew for that!), no other hybrid even comes close for ride and comfort. The 4.0L 6cyl is adequate.
Having read numerous reviews noting the high cabin noise in the SportTrac (due to the large side mirrors, roof rack, etc), I was prepared to accept a bit of noise. I was unprepared however for an irritating ever-present whistling at highway speeds. I'm not sure if this noise is coming from the roof rack, forward edge of the bed, drain holes in the bed or the cargo cage. I would be interested in reading other owners' observations about this noise. When I take my ST in for its 1st service, I plan on mentioning this to see if it can be isolated and if there is anything that can be done to correct it. Who knows... maybe that $1034 tonneau cover is the fix.
Bottom line, except for the irritations above, I'm darn happy with my ST. As an owner of seven Ford trucks, SUVs and cars, it's disappointing to see the company adopting Jaguar-like pricing policies for its Ford Truck options and accessories. #467 of 620: (donna_lee) Wed 14 Jun '00 (11:34 AM)
I purchased my harvest gold ST in February and I love it. I have the sport package and am thinking of getting the hard cover for traveling. I have had no trouble at all with my vehicle and wouldn't trade it for anything. It allows me to tow my two kids around and all of their junk and still be able to park with ease.
#614 of 620: 375 mile drive from dealer (beard1) Sat 24 Jun '00 (07:35 AM)
I bought a red 4x4 with premium and sports group, a cage and I paid $100 over invoice (as seen on Edmunds) plus $130 advertising and $28 gas. Ordered it on 5/2 and it was delivered to the dealer on 6/14. As I mentioned yesterday, I had them fix the gas door before I showed up. They checked out the other items I asked and there was no shimmy, wind noise or seat creak.
Here are some observations: gas mileage was around 16mpg, very unimpressive but I drove around 70 to 75 mph when I could and much of the drive was steep grades and winding roads. I hope the mpg improves on my local roads. Power was more than sufficient, but I wouldn't want to trailer any top end loads with the ST. Really comfortable vehicle and they have designed a special rounded spot on the driver's side door where you can rest your knee against it. A little thing, but it sure makes it easier on your leg. I don't understand all the griping about the rearview mirror. It's easily moved to anywhere you want it and it never caused any problems for me. Wind noise was louder than my Grand Cherokee, but it's there and if it's a problem for someone, it's best to buy a Jeep or Lexus. Zero to highway speed is more than adequate for entering the freeway. The only thing I did not like was that with the 16-inch wheels and tires, you really have to stay on the steering. It's not really tight. Other than that, I have a rattle around the radio and that seemed to be it for my first drive.
2K Ford Explorer Sport Trac's - II (Topic #2031)
703 responses, 0 new, Last post on Sun 13 Aug '00 at 07:54 AM
#299 of 702: 5spd tranny... (b_ran10) Tue 11 Jul '00 (09:17 PM)
Tranny is smooth, quiet and stays in gear while going up or down hills on way to Prescott..as in not shifting up and down like other slush boxes hat are constantly searching for the right gear. The 5spd was a surprise to see, I expected a 4spd for sure but 5?!! Works great for me and my wife.
2K Ford Explorer Sport Trac's - III (Topic #2189)
309 responses, 160 new, Last post on Wed 06 Sep '00 at 02:37 PM
#286 of 308: Emergency handling (rbstern1) Mon 04 Sep '00 (06:58 PM)
Had a real scare today on the interstate in my ST. Doing about 65, I was cut off by a driver attempting to cut across five lanes in one maneuver to make an exit. I saw her just as she was about to clip my front corner panel. I reacted without thinking and made a panicked, short swerve to the right that made it a very close miss; her car occupied some of the space I had just vacated. I encroached on the lane to my right by a couple of feet, but fortunately no one was there. The Sport Trac steering reacted quickly, and the vehicle felt stable and in control at all times. The lack of a dead spot in the ST steering really helps you make steering inputs where "what you steer is what you get."
As frustrated as I was by the other driver's stupidity, after I calmed down, I felt very good about how the Sport Trac handled in that situation.
Explorer Sport Trac Evaluation (Topic #2988)
2 responses, 2 new, Last post on Thu 17 Aug '00 at 05:48 AM
#0 of 1: (genel1) Wed 16 Aug '00 (07:01 PM)
I have had my Sport Trac for about 3 months now, and have a little over 1600 miles on it. Seems like that should be long enough to give some semi-objective opinions about the new SUV. Overall, I'm disappointed. It seems to me that this vehicle was designed by two separate and unequal teams. The outside and concept were put together by some very talented automotive engineers with real foresight. The finishing touches seem to have been done by their elementary school age children. As background, I traded a 1998 F 150 4X4 Supercab in on my 4X4 loaded Sport Trac. My main motivation was that when I bought my F 150 what I really wanted was a Sport Trac or a Dakota Crew Cab. In 1998 I became painfully aware that my local Dodge dealers were not the least bit interested in selling Dakotas since the saw MSRP as the starting point to bid UP. Ford however was glad to sell me an F-150, loaded to the gills, for less. Unfortunately, in 1998 they didn't have a 4 door mid-size pickup. My Sport Trac is solid and handles better than my F-150, and it actually fits in my garage and can park in the vast majority of parking places in town (unlike my F-150). The size and SMC (sheet molding composite) make-up of the box are right on. The interior is a big let down, however. The fit and finish are vastly inferior to that of the F-150. The plastic is of an inferior grade, the leather is already showing wear and tear, and the driving position is quite cramped (6' 2", 220 lbs.). I thought I would adapt to the ridiculous white gauges since my wife's Town and Country has white-faced gauges that I (now) really like. But the execution (again) was left to novices. The warning lights are included IN the white part of the gauge face, which means that they are glaring at you when they are off, and nearly disappear when they are on. Only the federal government could foul this simple item up as badly. The inside door release is almost unreachable under the door pull and against your hip. The electric rear window is without a doubt the best feature Ford has come up with in a long time, but they continue to put the blasted OverDrive lockout button on the end of the gear shift where it often is subject to accidental activation. Last but certainly not least is that a $25,000 vehicle badged as a 2001 model has no excuse for not even offering automatic headlights nor steering wheel-mounted radio controls (which I had on my 1993 Pontiac).