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2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

The First Sport-Utility with a Truck Bed is New for 2007
With the new-for-2001 Sport Trac, Ford was the first to put a short pickup bed on the back of an SUV passenger cabin, then based on the Ranger just as prior Explorers were. The shape has not taken off like gangbusters, but Sport Trac has managed to sell between 48,500 units and 83,600 units most years, with little marketing support behind it. And its owners are enthusiastic enough to have created a fan-based web site ( and an annual two-day rally in June (Ford will support one of the two days this year). Along with the annual Louisville meet, centered around the truck’s production location, there have been regional meets all over the country. Since its launch, sales have dropped below 40,000 units only twice, and in 2005 this was in part due to a short production year.


Not only are there enough buyers who appreciate this combination and enough opportunity for sharing components for Ford to keep it alive and bring us the second generation Explorer Sport Trac for 2007, some in the competition have borrowed from the playbook. GM takes on this configuration compete amongst full-size crew-cab pickups, and include the Chevrolet Avalanche/Cadillac Escalade EXT and Hummer H2 SUT, though GM adds a mid-gate for hauling even longer loads. Honda’s Ridgeline goes most directly up against the latest Explorer Sport Trac. If Dodge’s Rampage concept (Chicago, 2006) is any indication, they are at least considering playing in this group. The GM products are based on full-size SUVs and Honda looked to the Pilot for a base, though the platform was substantially modified. For now, there aren’t many like the Sport Trac in the automotive landscape, and it competes most directly with four-door crew cab pickups, as do Avalanche, Escalade EXT, and Ridgeline.


In late March 2006, AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents got the opportunity to climb behind the wheel of the latest Explorer Sport Trac, reaching dealers as these words are being written. Here are our first thoughts.

Latest Sport Trac Takes Strength From Explorer and F-150
Ford looked to the latest Explorer as a base for the SUV part of the truck as well as drivetrain, and its terrific F-150 for tricks to improve functionality and service of the bed. The Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer were updated for the 2006MY, with an all-new tube-through-tube frame, updated V8 and six-speed automatic transmission, and significantly improved NVH. The second-generation Sport Trac benefits from these updates, offering a solid, comfortable, and quiet ride without completely drowning out its truck-based personality. The V8 provided enough acceleration in the San Diego hills to keep us going, but it seems more adequate than exhilarating. A short off-road course demonstrated that the Sport Trac can easily get you over the hills and through the forest, if it’s filled with rutted roads, but did not attempt a Jeep-level Trail Rated course. We come away thinking that for some customers, this type of truck can easily fit the bill. Just enough cargo space in the bed to make home-improvement or weekend warrior type projects work, but not so big that it takes up half your company parking lot. If you need a truck bed more than passenger space, but don’t feel like being bounced around like a more traditional truck, the Explorer offers a solid package.


Larger, and A New V8: Explorer
The change in platforms allows for a wider and longer truck, an independent rear suspension, and the Explorer’s 292HP 4.6L V8 engine as an option alongside the carryover 4.0L V6. The second-generation Sport Trac has grown about five inches longer in both wheelbase and overall length. The bed is still only about 4.5 feet long, as Ford put more of the extra space into the interior, but its taller sides allow for an increase in overall cubic volume available. Taller truck bed sides have mixed reception, as they can be harder to reach into. Some F-150 owners have complained about this; it remains to be seen if Sport Trac owners are bothered. Though we did not have the opportunity to load up the bed, it did not strike us as being too tall.

Bed Improvements: F-150
The new truck bed is made of corrosion-proof SMC (just like F-150) and offers an optional locking tonneau cover, a cargo box with two-tier storage capability (just add a couple of wood planks), integrated tool and storage bins with drain plugs, and the assisted tailgate from the F-150. The tonneau also has an assist system, and we found both the tailgate and the tonneau easy to operate one-handed. Other items borrowed from the F-150 are side tiedowns, which are stronger and easier to access outside of the bed. The bed didn’t get longer, but the extra height means it can hold more stuff than the prior truck. The optional bed extender was easy flip out and back, and the pins for keeping it in place seem ready to last for the long haul.
Honda raised the bar on the usability and functionality of a truck bed with the Ridgeline’s large trunk space in the bed, and Ford needed to get in the game with the Sport Trac. The three storage bins in the Sport Trac’s cargo bed (two on each side near the tailgate and one near the cab that runs most the length of the bed) are a response to the threat, though they are too small to be exceptionally useful and with the tonneau on, the one nearest the cab is slightly more difficult to get to. Ford calls the two on the side “six-pack” sized, and at least gave those compartments drain plugs.
Safety: Explorer
While borrowing from the F-150 improved bed functionality with the tailgate assist and the SMC materials, among the benefits of the relationship with the Explorer are advanced safety features, including AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and meeting known safety requirements through 2010MY. The new Explorer Sport Trac’s ride and handling are improved as well by the independent rear suspension. Among the shortcomings are that the new truck does not include electronic aids that are becoming more prevalent in mid-size and larger sport utilities like downhill assist and hill-start assist.
Styling Cues: Explorer
The 2007MY Sport Trac takes styling cues from the latest Explorer inside and out, and therefore the latest F-150 for a tough truck face. In fact, from the B-pillar forward, the Sport Trac mimics Explorer’s look. Though the interior gets a rubber flooring for easier cleaning, it also gets optional leather seats and a heated windshield. While the standard setup is rear-wheel drive, the truck can be ordered with the Control Trac AWD system. The first row of seats and the dash and instrument panel are all from the Explorer, though the second row uses different seats and a slightly smaller configuration than the second row of the Explorer.


Basic Pricing
Ford brings its updated Sport Trac to market with a base price the same as the 2005MY previous generation (there was no 2006MY), at $24,940 for the XLT. The Limited starts at $26,540. Both AWD and the V8 are standalone options, with the V8 commanding a $1200 price hike and four-wheel drive $2400.

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