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TCC: 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Review

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2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Not like the one before.

By Al Vinikour (2006-04-10)

When I was in high school there was a cheer given after a player made the first of two free throws. It went, "We want another, just like the other one, just like the one before." I was reminded of this when I left for California to test-drive the all-new 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac. I assumed it was a similar, but updated version of its predecessor, first produced in 2001.

I couldn't have been more mistaken. From the B-pillar forward, the '07 Sport Trac is identical to the 2006 Ford Explorer, meaning it shares the same body structure down to the chrome-finished three-bar grille. From the B-pillar back, it's a pickup truck, which means the Sport Trac is intent on keeping the shoppers that Honda's Ridgeline has in its gunsights.

Growing appeal

Sharing pieces with the four-door Explorer also means the new Sport Trac has grown in size. Its wheelbase of 130.5 inches is 4.5 inches longer than the previous Sport Trac (and 16.8 inches longer than the '06 Explorer - credit the truck bed). Overall length is 210.2 inches, overall height is 72.5 inches and overall width is 73.7 inches.

Like the Explorer, the Sport Trac offers up a 60/40 rear split-seat. And unlike some four-door pickups this one actually can seat a total of five, comfortably. Front headroom is 39.8 inches while the rear is 38.5 inches. Front-seat legroom is 42.4 inches and rear legroom is 36.9.

If you've wondered how useful a truck bed this size can be, think of it as an SUV with an open cargo box - kind of like a backpack for trips to Lowe's. The Sport Trac's 4.5-foot cargo box is constructed of corrosion-proof sheet molded composite with a molded-in dent-proof black inner liner that resists scratches. The box is notched, allowing placement of two 2x4 boards across the span to provide tiered storage of materials - including 4x8 sheets of plywood.

Inside the box are three integrated cargo bins designed to maximize cargo-carrying ability and versatility. The bins are recessed into the bed floor, with two six-pack-sized bins in the right and left rear of the box and one large bin that runs the length of the box headboard. The bins are equipped with weather-resistant lids and removable drain plugs for storing wet gear or ice. A swing-out bed extender and locking hard tonneau cover are also available.

Grunting it out

The standard engine is a 4.0-liter V-6 that puts out 210 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automotive overdrive transmission comes with the V-6. The powertrain's identical to that in the Explorer SUV - sufficient for the job at hand, decently smooth on long highway drives.

The other powerplant is a 4.6-liter V-8. From day one, Sport Trac owners cried out for a V-8 like a thirsty man begging for water. Now they have it, along with 292 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the V-8 transforms the Sport Trac into a swift urban pickup that moves with authority.

The V-8 also brings much better towing capacity. The maximum towing capacity of the V-6 model is 5310 pounds with 1450 pounds of payload. The V-8 numbers are 6800 pounds of towing capacity and 1430 pounds of payload.

The Sport Trac's biggest boon, though, is in adopting the Explorer's independent rear suspension. In canning the old live-axle rear end, the Sport Trac's gained a much quieter and infinitely smoother ride. You can drive it all day without being fatigued.

Featured players

Inside, the Sport Trac has an interior that mimics that in the F-Series pickup-a good thing, in that the finishes and shapes are much better than the outgoing Sport Trac and a little more stylish than the Ridgeline.

A quirk that no one I know likes is the awkwardly-positioned interior front door handles. You need the dexterity of a robot to easily pull the door closed. Ford engineers say this will be quickly corrected. The seats are comfortable for longer trips and the standard CD player has MP3 compatibility so you can bring your music collection on a few discs. Sirius satellite radio and a CD changer are offered.

Safety features play a big part in the new Sport Trac. In addition to five-star front and side-impact crash performance, the Sport Trac gets side airbags and stability control with Roll Stability Control, along with anti-lock brakes.

On sale now, the Sport Trac is offered in two series: XLT and Limited, both available in 4x2 or 4x4 trim. Prices start from $24,940 for the V-6 4x2 edition, and reach $30,235 for the V-8 4x4 version.

It may not be the only one of its kind anymore, but the revamp of the Sport Trac makes it an easy alternative to the Ridgeline, especially considering its available V-8 and safety equipment.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Price: $24,245-$29,540

Engines: 4.0-liter V-6, 210 hp/254 lb-ft; 4.6-liter V-8, 292 hp/300 lb-ft

Transmissions: Five-speed automatic overdrive (V-6); six-speed automatic (V-8); rear- or four-wheel drive

Length x width x height: 210.2 x 73.7 x 72.5 in

Wheelbase: 130.5 in

Curb weight: 4516-4793 lb

Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): N/A

Safety Equipment: Dual front and side airbags; anti-lock brakes, stability and rollover control

Major standard equipment: Sixteen-inch aluminum wheels; power windows/locks/mirrors; AM/FM/CD/MP3 player

Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles

Link: http://www.thecarconnection.com/Vehicle_Re...181.A10263.html

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