Share This Article

METAL MORPHOSIS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, May 31, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

METAL MORPHOSIS By GORDON BLEAM

This is the third version of the Ford Explorer Sport Trac and the second version as a half-SUV and half-truck metamorphosis. The first version was a variant of the two-door Explorer SUV. The second version was the first Sport Utility Truck to come to market, with an added four-foot bed. The current iteration is Ford's response to the Honda Ridgeline. Ford has taken care of the rock-n-roll (over) handling reputation of the previous Sport Trac, with a new independent suspension in place of the solid rear axle and enhanced RSC - i.e., Roll Stability Control, a Volvo safety technology with two gyroscopic sensors that determine body roll angle and roll rate approximately 150 times per second.

The new rear suspension has a patent-pending, trailing blade design. The Sport Trac's rear coil-over springs, monotube shocks, and a stabilizer bar have slightly stiffer rates than those of the 2006 Explorer, to adjust for the longer wheelbase and change in weight distribution. The 2007 Sport Trac's body is identical to the newest Explorer from the B-pillar forward, with the rear door extended to provide better legroom for rear-seat passengers. The frame was stretched 16.8 inches to extend the wheelbase to 130.5 inches and adopts the F-150's tube-through-tube frame design, where the cross beams pass through the frame rails. Ford says this provides a 444 percent increase in stiffness compared with the previous Sport Trac's frame. The ride is extremely quiet and acceleration is smooth with the transmission's shift pattern (nearly imperceptible).

The four-and-a-half-foot cargo box can easily be extended by leaving the tailgate open and folding out the optional tubular bed extender. The cargo box is constructed of corrosion-proof sheet molded composite (SMC) with a molded-in black inner liner that resists scratches and is dent-proof. The box is notched, making it possible to place two 2x4 boards across the span providing tiered storage of materials, including 4x8 sheets of plywood. The outer SMC shell is painted body color and accented with tie-down anchors, emphasizing the Sport Trac's functional design. One large bin at the front of the box runs the width, with two smaller bins at the rear on either side large enough to hold an iced six-pack. The two rear compartments have recessed knobs to help protect the latch mechanisms and all 3 storage bins have removable drain plugs for keeping the 6-packs in ice, or storing wet gear.

The 2007 Sport Trac engine choices include a 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 and a 292-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 - 53 horses more than last year. The V-8 and its six-speed automatic transmission is my engine of choice, especially for towing or hauling heavy loads. It has 300 pound-feet of torque, variable cam timing and three-valve cylinder heads. While driving in rush hour traffic, the V8 achieved 5.1 miles per gallon. At 55, however, the observed mileage is better at 18.1. In the city driving cautiously, my MPG averaged 11.6 - a bit less then the EPA estimate of 15/20 city/highway. Once inside the cabin, closing the door is awkward, the grab-handles are placed under the armrests and forward. When exiting the vehicle, it takes a bit to find the door-release handle, which is integrated into the door panel/arm rest. The look is sleek and very clean, but I never got used to the handle positions.

Ford has added some advanced safety equipment to the Explorer. Dual front crash sensors to detect the impact severity plus front seat position sensors provide the computer with data to help limit the force needed to protect the passengers. The front seats detect the occupant's size, seatbelt load limiters have three resistance levels depending on the size of the person, and the seatbelt retractors are adjusted to help further enhance crash energy management. The front air bags are standard; side-impact air bags are optional, all airbags are smarter and adjust depending on seat position and impact severity. Off-road ability is limited because the vehicles intended use is recreational, tote people to work during the week and toys to the beach or mountains on the weekend. Ford's Control Trac four-wheel-drive system is available with either engine. It includes a two-speed transfer case when off-road driving requires low range. The computer with its anti-slip/anti-lock system will help the novice get through the snow or mud safely and in real comfort.

The 2007 Ford Sport Trac is a very quiet and comfortable riding and driving vehicle. If you need the V8 and don't mind spending $28.50 to drive 100 miles, this vehicle is a great choice. SUMMARY JUDGMENT A vast improvement over the previous Sport Trac. For more information, go to www.fordvehicles.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Price: Base $24,245, as tested $34,180 Engine type: 4.6-Liter V8 SOHC VCT 3-valves per cylinder Horsepower: 292 @ 5,750 rpm Torque: 300 lb.-ft @ 3,950 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / rear or four-wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed automatic O/D Suspension: Front: Independent SLA with coil over shocks Rear: Independent trailing blade SLA Wheels and tires: Front: 18-inch / P235/65R18 A/S Rear: 18-inch / P235/65R18 A/S Brakes: Power hydraulic 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, enhanced interactive vehicle dynamics (IVD) Overall length: 210.2" Overall width: 73.7" Overall height: 72.5" Curb weight (lbs): 4,793 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway:15/20

You Might Also Like These Articles:

quattro book group b rally car

Book Review: Quattro

917 restaurant waiter food burger

917 (K)afe

Porsche 356 made by Reutter

Book Review - Porsche 356: Made by Reutter

2022 GR 86

2022 GR 86

harbor freight tools for school red pliers tools bench

Harbor Freight "Tools for School" Prize