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2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Pickup Truck

Explorer Sport Trac Limited Pickup Truck

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


2007 Explorer Sport Trac Limited 4x4

2007 Explorer Sport Trac Limited 4x4

© Aaron Gold
The 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is more than just a crew-cab pickup or an SUV with a cargo box. The Explorer Sport Trac is a well thought out blend: A hard, crunchy pickup shell with a soft chewy SUV center. As a whole, the Explorer Sport Trac is a remarkably useful blend of capable work truck and safe, comfortable family hauler. Only a few odd interior details and crummy gas mileage let it down. $24,940 base, $33,630 as tested.

First Glance at the Explorer Sport Trac Pickup Truck

When SUVs tookoff in the 90s, people quickly began to see their chief limitation: Rarely-used off-road brawn resulting in fuel-economy-robbing bulk. Automakers responded with the crossover utility vehicle, or CUV. By adapting an SUV body to car-like unit-body construction, CUVs offered buyers what they needed in a lighter, more fuel-efficient package.

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

2007 Explorer Sport Trac Limited 4x4

2007 Explorer Sport Trac Limited 4x4, Instrumentation

© Aaron Gold
The Explorer Sport Trac's interior is, for the most part, well done, but I have a couple of complains. Minor: Interior door handles that look nothing like door handles and the interior grab handles that are too low to be grabed easily. (The door got away from me once and I narrowly missed dinging the Nissan next to me. Man, would that have been ugly. If you buy a Sport Trac, best to warn your passengers.)

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

Here's where the Explorer Sport Trac really earns its sticker price. One of the features that sets the Sport Trac apart is its independent rear suspension (IRS), as opposed to the solid axle used in most pickups. The difference in a sudden swerve is night and day. Better yet, Ford equips the Sport Trac with its electronic Roll Stability Control (RSC) system. If the excrement hits the rotary cooling device, the driver of a Sport Trac will be able to keep control long past the point where a solid-axle pickup will spin out. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this: The Sport Trac's IRS and RSC may well be the difference between life and death.

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.

Journey's End

2007 Explorer Sport Trac Limited 4x4

2007 Explorer Sport Trac Limited 4x4, Bed Extender

© Aaron Gold
I haven't touched on the Explorer Sport Trac's cargo box -- one of its best features. It's made of a lightweight composite material, is awash in tie-downs and has a hidden storage compartment just behind the cab. An optional ($195) aluminum "cargo cage" allows the bed to be extended by dropping the tailgate; it also handily secures smaller items like grocery bags. My test truck had a $595 lockable tonneau cover, hinged in the center to allow easy loading front or back. It does a great job of turning the bed into a lockable trunk.

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.

Disclosure: A review truck was provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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