Full 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac receives minor alterations to feature availability.
Even though pickup trucks are America's utility vehicle of choice, they don't always meet the needs of every buyer. Full-size crew-cab models have plenty of room and bed space, but they're also unwieldly to drive. Compact or midsize pickups have a smaller footprint but don't typically have a particularly large backseat. For people stuck between these two choices, there's the midsize 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac.
With its hybridized half-SUV, half-truck design, the four-door Sport Trac rides on an extended-wheelbase Explorer platform. This allows the Sport Trac to offer a pickup-like cargo box (albeit modest in size) as well as an enclosed cabin that's just as roomy as a regular Explorer's. Its independent rear suspension -- a rarity among trucks -- helps the Sport Trac deliver a relatively superior on-road ride and more adept handling characteristics. The Ford Explorer Sport Trac also comes in many different flavors to suit specific needs, including V6 or V8 power and two- or four-wheel-drive traction.
Overall, the 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a well-rounded, family-friendly utility vehicle with plenty of appeal for the niche buyer. We would still suggest checking out the handful of other similar vehicles in this segment, though. The Honda Ridgeline is a more polished vehicle but lacks the pure grunt of a V8-equipped Sport Trac, while the full-size Chevy Avalanche has a unique "midgate" design for greater versatility. Crew-cab models of the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, meanwhile, are more rugged and capable. Choosing one is really a matter of personal preference and budget, but we think you'll be quite satisfied if you wind up with the Ford in your driveway.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is essentially an Explorer SUV with a pickup-like cargo bed behind the second-row seat. Two trim levels are offered: XLT and Limited.
The well-equipped XLT features a composite cargo box, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, full power accessories, a power-sliding rear window, air-conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a CD player with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Limited model adds 18-inch wheels, color-keyed bumpers, heated side mirrors, leather seating, heated front seats, a power driver seat, Ford's Sync multimedia interface and a premium six-CD audio system with a subwoofer.
An Adrenalin Sport package is optional on the Limited and adds 20-inch alloy wheels and unique exterior and interior styling details. Depending on model and equipment, other available Sport Trac extras include V8 power, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, rear parking sensors, power-adjustable pedals and a voice-operated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link and 10GB of digital music storage.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Explorer Sport Trac comes standard with a 4.0-liter V6 generating 210 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Optional on the Limited is a 4.6-liter V8 that cranks out 292 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque that is paired with a six-speed automatic. All Explorer Sport Tracs are available with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, except for Adrenalin-equipped models, which substitute a full-time all-wheel-drive system for 4WD.
V8 acceleration is respectable, with 0-60-mph sprints taking just over 8 seconds. Towing is another strong point, with a maximum trailering capacity of 7,160 pounds when properly equipped. EPA fuel economy estimates for a V6 2WD model check in at 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. Upgrading to the V8 actually improves fuel economy to 15/21/17 mpg. Fuel economy for 4WD models is essentially identical.
All 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Tracs feature standard antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control with rollover protection and trailer sway control, front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. In government crash testing, the Explorer Sport Trac earned a perfect five stars for protection in both frontal and side-impact tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, it returned a top-ranked "Good" rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Explorer Sport Trac's comfortable cabin is virtually identical to that of its namesake SUV, with highlights that include solid build quality and a straightforward layout of controls. That said, the Explorer's materials quality remains mediocre and its design rudimentary. Most of the climate and audio controls are packed with plenty of similar-looking black buttons, and the regular audio head unit still displays its info in Ford's old-school, '80s-look green LED readout. Thankfully, the optional Sync phone/MP3 voice activation and hard-drive-based navigation systems are both effective and modern.
The 60/40-split rear seats fold to create a flat cargo area, and the 4.5-foot utility box out back features a power point and is constructed of corrosion-proof composite material with a molded liner that resists scratches and dents. The box is also notched, facilitating two-tiered storage of materials. Three cargo bins are built into the bed's load floor, with drain plugs enabling their use as ice boxes or for storing wet items.
Thanks to its fully independent suspension, the 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac delivers a smooth and well-damped ride with respectable handling and good steering response for a truck. The cabin is calm and quiet under most conditions, owing to ample acoustic insulation. Its V6 engine is coarse and unimpressive, however, in terms of both power and efficiency -- especially when compared to the Japanese competition. The V8 is the preferred choice with its smooth, broad power band and slightly better fuel economy.