With popular offerings like the Dodge Dakota, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma, the compact pickup truck market is highly competitive. Ford is in the mix, too, of course, with the Explorer Sport Trac. As such, major manufacturers in the class are constantly looking for an edge, which is all good for consumers. And which is also the reason the Explorer Sport Trac has been redesigned for 2007.
The compact crew cab has new safety features, a new an optional V8 engine and a new independent rear suspension. Like the Ridgeline, the independent rear suspension was added to provide a more carlike ride than other trucks equipped with a solid rear axle.
It works. My weekly test drive was the V8, 4-door crew cab, one of eight Explorer Sport Trac models. It’s a smooth-driving, four-door truck with nearly the comfort of a sedan, but with all the benefits of a workhorse truck.
A 210-horsepower engine is standard, but the Limited Edition — the most expensive model — has a 4.6-liter, 292-horsepower, V8 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission and 4-wheel drive.
The ’07 redesign also includes a wheelbase five inches longer than previous years’ models, and the Explorer Sport Trac has a 4×5-foot open cargo bed and seats five.
The standard Sport Tracs have an impressive list of standard features, and the Limited adds a long list of niceties: six-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlights, side steps, fog lights, 235/65R 18-inch white-letter tires and the aforementioned four-wheel drive.
My test driver also included a Convenience Package, another “laundry list” of features, a safety canopy to a cargo cage and two-tone leather bucket seats to a hard Tonneau cover. The options added more than $5,000 to the price.
The Ridgeline often gets top marks in several crew-cab categories, but the Sport Trac does fine. It offers a quiet ride with low noise, even at high speeds. And the V8 while loud at sudden, strong acceleration, cruises with refinement.
As a crew-cab, the Sport Trac offers 37.5 cubic feet below the two-section, heavy and awkward bed cover. The cargo box has three in-floor covered bins, each with a drain plug. The towing capacity for the standard model is 5,310 pounds; The V8 can tow 6,800 pounds. Both the V6 and V8 have a class II trailer tow hitch and both models use regular grade fuel.
“The 2007 redesign at last puts the Sport Trac is step with its parent SUV for performance and refinement, plus key safety features like the standard antiskid system and available curtain side airbag,” writes Consumer Guide. “It’s still more ‘trucky’ than the Ridgeline, which likely inspired the molded-composite cargo box with in-floor storage. But this ‘Explorer pick-up’ deserves a look.”
After a week with the truck, that assessment seems spot-on. The F-150 and Explorer, are well-respected in their respective categories. And now, the Sport Trac should be, too. It’s redesigned, improved and there’s no reason it shouldn’t sell well in a class with a lot of good choices.
The Weekly Driver: 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Safety Features – Dual front and front airbags; side curtain airbags optional.
Fuel Mileage (estimates) – 14 mpg (city), 20 mpg (highway).
Warranty – Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; (24-hour) roadside assistance program, 3 years/36,000 miles.
Base Price – $29,540.00.