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2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Pickup Truck Review

Meet the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Pickup Truck

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review)

By Colin Hefferon

2007 Ford Explore Sport Trac Pickup Truck

2007 Ford Explore Sport Trac

© Colin Hefferon
The 2007 Explorer Sport Trac is a vastly improved version of Ford's quirky four door "sports utility truck." A couple of interesting things about this vehicle: first, the new frame is four times stiffer than the previous version and secondly, a stability control system with much needed rollover protection (lifted from the Volvo XC90) is standard. The optional 4.6L, V-8 with 292hp and a new 6-speed auto give Sport Trac great highway performance. MSRP: $24,940; Warranty: 3/36.

First Glance at the Sport Trac Pickup Truck

The Sport Trac is, of course, an Explorer SUV with a pick up box tacked on. It has been completely re-worked for 2007. While the most important changes are found under the skin, both the exterior and the cabin have been considerably spruced up as well.

The Sport Trac’s pick up box can be dressed up with hatch covers. The hatch covers can be opened from three directions – the two sides and the rear. Each has its own unique lock. The hatch covers divide the box up into compartments as well. Frankly, the whole thing is a bit too fussy for me. I can’t imagine anyone who's that well organized actually buying something like the Sport Trac as a daily driver. An optional tubular aluminum cargo cage can be swung out as a box extender when the tailgate is down.

I think the Sport Trac somewhat resembles the old VW Transporter. According to colleague Philip Powell who’s an ex-VW Canada guy, the Transporter was developed in Europe in the '50s as a tradesman's vehicle. It was the first 4-door pick up truck sold in North America. Although almost every manufacturer sells at least one, the Sport Trac looks very different from the others.

In the Sport Trac Truck Driver's Seat

2007 Ford Explore Sport Trac

2007 Ford Explore Sport Trac

© Colin Hefferon
Sitting in the Sport Trac is very much like sitting in the regular Explorer – except when you look over your shoulder. There's a back seat all right but immediately behind the back seat the cabin ends abruptly. From the B-pillar forward, though, the Sport Trac is identical to the conventional Explorer. (Ford's marketing mavens refer to it as "Sport Trac" without the "the." I can’t seem to bring myself to do that.)

The rear door design is unique to the Sport Trac. Although they're actually a bit smaller than the conventional Explorer's, the door opening itself is more than adequate for easy entry and exit – if, that is, you can hoist yourself all the way up into the cabin. Legroom, elbowroom and headroom are identical to what you find in the regular Explorer. While it's not exactly tight back there, neither is it particularly spacious.

What there isnt much of is outside visibility. I'm fairly long in the torso but I can hardly see over the front seat headrests. I can't for the life of me fathom why Ford didn't install raised theatre style seating back there when they did the interior re-design.

The new interior is a great improvement over the old one, although some people might find it a bit cramped.

On the Road in the Sport Trac Pickup Truck

Still smarting, understandably, from rollover fallout from the older Explorers, all new Explorer Sport Tracs – in fact, every new Explorer – now come with Ford's AdvanceTrac with RSC (rollover stability control) as standard equipment. This same technology first appeared here about 3 years ago in the then new Volvo XC90 sports utility vehicle. Ford, of course, has owned Volvo since 1999.

RSC works with the vehicle's electronic stability control system ("AdvanceTrac" in Ford-speak). A sensor reads the vehicle's roll angle approximately 150 times per second. If it detects potential rollover, it activates the stability control, which integrates three major components including the anti lock braking system, the traction control and the yaw control, to keep all four wheels on the ground.

Handling is much improved this year thanks to the vastly improved chassis stiffness (up an incredible 444% over the previous model) and the 4-wheel fully independent suspension. The independent rear suspension, which allows each wheel to react independently to the road, greatly reduces the dreaded "rear-end skate" on washboard gravel roads and provides a ride on most surfaces that’s almost car like.

Sport Trac Journey's End

2007 Ford Explore Sport Trac

2007 Ford Explore Sport Trac

© Colin Hefferon
The story is that when a group of North American auto journalists were invited by Volvo to try their best to flip the then new XC90 with rollover stability control (RSC) on the track, not a single testosteronic one of them had the er, testes to do it. RSC technology should be mandatory in any SUV sold. Kudos to Ford for making it standard on all new Explorers.

A great deal has been done to clean up the emissions from both the standard 4.0L V-6 and the 4.6L V-8. Ford claims the V-6 is cleaner than Honda’s Accord Hybrid, which, incidentally, I simply don’t buy.

Unfortunately almost nothing has been done to improve the fuel economy. Ford lamely re-assures us even though horsepower is up fuel economy won’t be worse than earlier models'.

Let’s face it: the Sport Trac is not a real truck. It has a truck frame and you sit up high but you can't carry stuff in this thing like you can in real pick up. I see it as another fashion accessory for 40-something managers commuting from their gated communities to their offices in suburban industrial parks. What I can't for the life of me see, though, is any woman of any age buying one for herself. Which, I guess, in the truck biz, is high praise indeed.

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

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