What's New for 2007
Returning after a one-year hiatus, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac has been fully redesigned for the 2007 model year. Major improvements for this SUV-pickup combination include a newly available V8 that provides 40 percent more power than the previous V6, greater cargo and towing capacity, enhanced ride and handling characteristics and a roomier, more comfortable cabin.
In an effort to capitalize further on the SUV craze that had been going on for nearly a decade, Ford brought out the Explorer Sport Trac for 2001. Essentially an Explorer SUV with a small pickup bed grafted onto the back, the vehicle's mission was to combine the passenger comfort and space of a four-door SUV with the cargo flexibility of a pickup. Though an interesting concept, we were never particularly smitten with the first Sport Trac, as we found it to be poor in terms of handling and utility. Although the Ford Explorer was redesigned for 2002, the Sport Trac continued on pretty much unchanged through 2005.
For 2007, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac returns, this time based on the current-generation Explorer platform, which received additional updates for the 2006 model year. Much of the Sport Trac's chassis hardware is derived from the Explorer, though the Sport Trac has a 13-inch-longer wheelbase. Ford claims that the 2007 Sport Trac is more than 400-percent stiffer than the 2005 version. The stiffer body, along with adoption of the Explorer's independent rear suspension, gives the vehicle dramatically improved handling and ride characteristics.
The new Sport Trac also boasts the availability of the Explorer's 292-horspower V8 and six-speed automatic transmission. Functional enhancements include a larger bed (now featuring three hidden storage compartments), increased towing capacity and more standard safety features, including stability control and side airbags.
Thanks to these upgrades, the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is no longer a half-baked curiosity. True, one can still get more hauling ability from a more traditional pickup, but the Sport Trac should satisfy consumers who desire a mix of carlike handling, SUV-like rear-seat comfort and the ability to do some light-to-medium-duty towing and hauling. Alternatively, one might look at the Honda Ridgeline, which is similar to the Sport Trac in many regards.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a four-door Explorer SUV modified to include a small pickuplike cargo bed. Two trim levels are available. The well-equipped XLT comes with a composite cargo box, 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning and CD player. Move up to the Limited and color-keyed bumpers and side mirrors, foglamps, side-step bars, 18-inch wheels, a power driver seat, and leather wrapping for the steering wheel and gearshift knob are thrown into the mix. Major options include a heated windshield, a moonroof, leather seating, adjustable pedals, a navigation system, an upgraded sound system with CD changer and subwoofer and satellite radio. For the cargo box, Ford offers an optional cagelike bed extender and a hard tonneau cover.
Powertrains and Performance
The Sport Trac's standard powertrain consists of a 4.0-liter V6 good for 210 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission. A 4.6-liter V8 rated for 292 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque is also available; it comes with a six-speed automatic. Either is available with rear- or four-wheel drive. The Control Trac four-wheel-drive system has three modes. Intended for everyday driving, 4x4 Auto mode routes power only to the rear wheels until they slip, at which point power is delivered automatically to the front wheels. The 4x4 High mode provides a 50/50 power split to the front and rear wheels, making it ideal for off-road or severe winter conditions. The 4x4 Low mode locks the transfer case and is for the really deep stuff, steep grades and pulling a boat out of the water. Class III and IV towing packages are optional. Properly outfitted, the 2007 Explorer Sport Trac can pull up to 6,800 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and a tire pressure monitor are all standard. A side curtain airbag system for all outboard passengers is optional on both trim levels.
Interior Design and Special Features
A redesigned interior with new materials, colors and seats graces the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Notable features include an easily cleaned rubber floor with Berber carpeted mats, 60/40-split-folding rear bench seat and displays for outside temperature and compass. The 4.5-foot cargo box is constructed of corrosion-proof sheet-molded composite (SMC) with a molded-in black inner liner that resists scratches and is dent-proof. The box is notched, allowing customers to place two 2-by-4 boards across the span to provide tiered storage of materials. Three cargo bins are built into the bed's load floor and feature drain plugs which allow them to be used as iceboxes or for storing wet items.
With a front and rear independent suspension, nicely tuned dampers and springs, admirable road isolation and a surprisingly responsive steering system, the 2007 Sport Trac is light-years ahead of its predecessor. Handling is surefooted and the ride is almost luxury-car plush. With more than a fourfold increase in torsional rigidity and more liberal use of noise dampening materials, the Sport Trac boasts a noticeably quieter cabin. Ford claims that at 40 mph, the Sport Trac is a full 5 decibels quieter than a Honda Ridgeline.