2009 Explorer Sport Trac New Car Test Drive
The Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a four-door, five-passenger, midsize pickup. It was unique when it first appeared in 2000, but today it must compete with midsize four-door pickups from every major player.
Essentially a Ford Explorer with a pickup bed, the Sport Trac offers plenty of room inside for people and out back for cargo. It comes standard with a 4.0-liter V6 that makes 210 horsepower, and a 292-hp V8 is optional. Both engines are available with rear- or four-wheel drive.
With the V8, the Sport Trac offers power near the top of the class. The power is delivered smoothly, but isn't as responsive in passing maneuvers as some might wish.
The Sport Trac's high ride height means the ride quality gets a bit busy over potholed or broken pavement, but otherwise, the ride is smooth, thanks in part to an independent rear suspension that also aids handling. Directional stability is good, steering response is quick, and body lean is well controlled for a heavy vehicle.
Inside, the Sport Trac has easy-to-read instruments and nice materials. Unfortunately, the door pulls are strangely positioned, making them hard to operate for some. Room, on the other hand, is plentiful front and rear. The bed offers decent room and some unique storage bins, but those who haul a lot of cargo regularly will want a more traditional pickup.
After benefiting from a redesign for 2007, the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac adds more standard features and additional optional equipment. The most notable new feature, available on late-2008 models, is Ford's Sync communications and entertainment system. New standard features include fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power rear window, a drop-in storage bin, and side curtain airbags. The optional navigation system offers voice activation for 2008.
The 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac comes in two trim levels, both with rear- or four wheel drive, XLT ($24,715 2WD, $27,210 4WD) and Limited ($26,405 2WD, $28,900 4WD). The 4.0-liter V6 with five-speed automatic transmission comes standard on both trim levels. The 4.6-liter V8 is an option for both trim levels ($1295) and comes with a six-speed automatic. The four-wheel drive is a full-time system that can be driven on dry pavement, and includes low-range gearing.
XLT comes standard with cloth upholstery, manually adjusted bucket seats, 60/40-split bench seat in back; air conditioning; leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel; cruise control; power windows, door locks and foldaway outside mirrors; remote keyless entry; AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; anti-theft system; trip computer with two-line information center; Berber floor mats; fog lamps; cargo bed storage compartment; Class II trailer hitch; roof rails; and P235/70R16 tires on cast aluminum wheels.
Options for the XLT include an Audiophile stereo adding an in-dash six-CD changer, subwoofer and auxiliary input jack ($510); a navigation system incorporating the Audiophile stereo ($2505); rear DVD entertainment ($1295); Sirius satellite radio with a six-month subscription ($195); remote engine starting ($385); embedded wire-heated windshield ($300); power moonroof ($850); power adjustable pedals ($150); Appearance Package ($695) with side step bars and P245/65R17 tires on cast aluminum wheels; Convenience Package ($250) with door entry keypad, auto-headlights and auto-dimming rearview mirror; aluminum cargo bed extender ($195); two-piece, lockable cargo bed hard tonneau cover ($595); roof rail cross bars ($115); and Class III/IV trailer hitch with seven-pin wiring harness ($225).
The Limited comes standard with automatic headlights, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, leather-wrapped shift knob, keyless entry keypad, auto-dimming rearview mirror and P235/65R18 tires on machined aluminum wheels. Sundry exterior trim pieces that are painted black on the XLT change to body color or silver on the Limited. Options include a Chrome Package ($795) with chrome mirror caps, roof rails, step bars and wheels; leather upholstery with a 10-way power driver's seat ($995); and an Electronics Package ($545) with dual-zone automatic climate control and trip computer with four-line information center ($545). Ford Sync is available on late-2008 models.
Safety features that come standard on all models comprise front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags to protect the upper body in side impacts, head-protecting side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor; child safety seat anchors (LATCH), Advance Trac stability control with rollover mitigation, four-wheel antilock brakes and a tire-pressure monitor. Rear obstacle detection ($295) is optional.