2003 Explorer Sport Trac New Car Test Drive
Sure, sport utilities can carry cargo, but what do you do when you need to haul a load of lumber or a pile of dirt? Compact pickups can do that, but who are you going to call when it's time to take the whole family out? The Ford Explorer Sport Trac can handle either of these tasks.
Sport Trac is an SUV with a pickup bed. It has an outdoorsman's interior designed for easy cleaning and a bed made of a nearly impervious composite material. Yet Sport Trac can carry a family of five in comfort.
As its name implies, the Explorer Sport Trac is based on the Ford Explorer, the best selling sport-utility in America. Sport Trac is based on the previous-generation Explorer, however, so it does not benefit from the 2003 Explorer's independent rear suspension and other advances. But Ford has enhanced Sport Trac's safety systems for 2003. Four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS come standard. Seat belts are now height-adjustable and are fitted with pre-tensioners.
Ford's new Safety Canopy side-curtain air bag system with rollover sensors is available for 2003 Sport Tracs (except early models). Safety Canopy air bags offer head protection in a side impact and remain inflated longer than conventional air bags, helping prevent occupants from being ejected in a rollover.
Ford revised the Sport Trac lineup for 2003. New XLS, XLT, and XLT Premium models replace the previous Value, Choice, and Premium trim levels.
All come standard with rear-wheel drive (2WD), with four-wheel drive ($2770) as an option. A 4.0-liter V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission come standard on all Explorer Sport Tracs. XLS buyers, however, can opt for a five-speed manual for a $435 credit.
XLS ($22,790) base-level trim packs a long list of standard equipment, including second-generation air bags, air conditioning, four-speaker CD stereo, bucket seats and center console, privacy glass, tachometer, Securilock anti-theft system, intermittent wipers, a four-pin trailer-tow harness, gas-pressure shock absorbers and P235/70R16 white-outline tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels.
XLT ($24,115) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt, remote keyless entry with keypad, cruise control, power mirrors with security approach lamps, Berber floor mats, premium sound, and body-color rather than black door handles.
XLT Premium ($25,960) adds a six-way power driver's seat, power lumbar support for driver and passenger, an upgraded console between the seats and another console overhead, fog lamps, step bars, front tow hooks, and 225/70R16 all-terrain tires on bright aluminum wheels.
The Premium Sport Group ($700) adds XLT Premium's wheels, tires, fog lamps, step bars and tow hooks to XLT and XLS Sport Tracs. Other options include a limited slip rear differential ($355) for the standard 3.73- or heavy-towing 4.10-ratio axle. A cargo cage ($195) and hard tonneau cover ($590) are available. XLT and XLT Premium buyers can choose a Pioneer stereo with six-CD changer ($510), and a power moonroof ($800).
Adrenaline ($25,410) is a limited-edition model featuring full XLT trim plus a 485-watt, nine-speaker Pioneer sound system that includes an eight-inch, foamed-cone sub-woofer in a custom 11.5-liter enclosure. The system plays cassettes and CDs through a four-channel bridgeable amplifier. You'll be able to spot an Adrenaline Sport Trac by its limited paint colors, fog lights, tow hooks, step bars, and five-spoke Thumbprint wheels shod with Goodyear Wrangler RT/S 255/70R16 off-road tires.