Long in the tooth and gearing up for a redesign, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac enters 2005 virtually untouched; the sole change is the addition of Bright Red and Dark Stone exterior colours.

The Sport Trac is basically an Explorer with the rear portion cut off and replaced with a pickup truck bed. It’s based on the last-generation Explorer and lacks the refinements of the new one; its 4.0-litre engine, the only powerplant available, makes five less horsepower than the Explorer’s 4.0-litre offering. That makes for less-than-stellar acceleration in this heavy vehicle, and while it’s smooth on good roads, it hops around a fair bit on rougher ones.

The Sport Trac’s SUV-based body means a comfortable ride for rear-seat passengers, who have a full-size door for entering and exiting. This means a small pickup box, but its capacity can be extended with an optional cargo bed extender. Flipped forward, this three-bar fence holds cargo securely on the open tailgate; flipped back, it doubles as a cargo divider.

The base Convenience is two-wheel-drive; the mid-line Comfort comes in two- or four-wheel-drive, while the Adrenalin is strictly a 4×4. The 4WD system is SelectDrive electronic shift-on-the-fly 4WD, which flips from two-wheel to four-wheel-high or four-wheel-low by turning a dial.

All lines are well-equipped; even the base model comes with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch wheels, power windows and mirrors, power locks with keyless entry, speed-sensitive intermittent wipers, air conditioning, and CD player. A five-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice.

Despite its name, the Adrenalin is extra trim, not extra power; but Ford recently unveiled the Adrenalin Sport Trac SVT, a 390 hp screamer that it says will be available for 2007.

The Explorer Sport Trac is built in Louisville, Kentucky.