First Glance at the Explorer Sport Trac Pickup Truck
Pickups have the same problems. Many drivers use them for family duty, hence the number of smaller trucks sprouting crew cabs. But crew cabs, too, have their limitations: Buyers must chose between a cramped back seat and a bulky, difficult-to-maneuver truck. And their pickup suspensions aren't much good for swerving to avoid a kid who suddenly runs into the road.
Enter the Sport Trac: The crossover pickup.
The Explorer Sport Trac is styled to look like Ford's Explorer SUV, which, in turn, is styled to look like the F-150 truck. I like the way Ford has shaped the cab to hide the seam between it and the cargo box, and how the black of the bed-liner lip and cargo tie-downs echo the black around the windows. These touches tie the whole design together and make the Sport Trac look like its own vehicle -- as opposed to just the front of an SUV with a pickup box welded to the back.
In the Driver's Seat of the Sport Trac Pickup Truck
Not-so-minor: The wide bands of chrome encircling the instrument panel and shifter bezel and capping the shift lever created lots of glare.
That aside, I like the accommodations. The front seats ae comfortable and the power-operated pedals make it easy to find a good driving position. The climate and stereo controls could do with fewer buttons and more dials, but everything's clearly labeled and easy to use once your fingers learn their way around.
The back seats offer the kind of space one would expect from a mid-size SUV, though I wish the backs would recline just a tad more. Said seatbacks are split 60/40 and can be easily folded. Tugging on a strap near the headrests causes them to flop forward 90 degrees, so you don't have to remove them to fold the seats. Nice.
On the Road in the Sport Trac Truck
The Explorer Sport Trac offers a choice of V6 or V8 power. My test truck had the latter, a 292 horsepower 4.6 liter V8 backed by a new 6-speed automatic transmission. 4x4 models like the one I tested have an electric transfer case with low range; full-time 4WD is optional. Steering was a weak point on older Ford 4x4s, but the new Sport Trac tracks straight and true. My test truck had an optional ($150) Class III package which increased towing capacity to 6,640 lbs; were it a 4x2 it would be able to tow 6,800 lbs.
I also haven't talked about fuel economy, and the less said the better. EPA numbers have not been published, but I averaged just under 15 MPG -- about what I'd expect from a larger V8-powered pickup. Perhaps the base engine, a 210 hp 4.0 liter V6, would have been a bit more thrifty; the V8 certainly had a surplus of power for day-to-day use.
Overall, I really like the 2007 Explorer Sport Trac. The comfort and practicality are all well and good; more importantly the Sport Trac is one of the few pickups designed to avoid accidents with car-like aplomb. As a potential pickup buyer, that's something I'd like. As a car driver who shares the road with pickup buyers, that's something I like even more.