2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4

First introduced in 2001, the Explorer Sport Trac took a hiatus in 2006, returning for 2007 with the underpinnings of the redesigned 2006 Explorer SUV, including a new independent rear suspension, a stronger frame, and a new optional V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission that offer a stronger towing capacity than the standard V6.

The 2007 Sport Trac is longer and wider than the 2005 model, but the basic concept hasn’t changed: this is a mid-sized pickup with four large front-hinged doors, a roomy SUV-like cabin that comfortably accomodates five adults, and a short cargo box that measures 127 cm (50.1 in.) long. It’s the kind of vehicle that can perform double duty as an SUV and a DUV (‘dirty’ utility vehicle). Its ribbed, plastic cargo box can haul the kind of cargo you’d never think of throwing in the trunk of an Explorer,

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

such as bark mulch, gravel, lumber, or concrete paving stones; sports equipment like bicycles, wet skis, snow boards, hockey sticks and scuba gear; tall items like refrigerators, cabinets and mattresses; or even your pet St. Bernard.

Though the box is short, an optional bed extender ($230) can add a foot to the box with the tailgate down. As well, an optional, lockable hard tonneau cover ($895) can keep the contents dry and secure. The cargo box also features three hidden storage compartments under the floor with drain plugs: a large one near the cab and two smaller ‘six-pack’-sized ones behind the wheel wells.

Pricing and standard equipment

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

Sport Tracs come in 4X2 and 4X4 models with a standard 210-hp 4.0-litre V6 engine (SOHC, two valves per cylinder) or a new optional 292-hp 4.6-litre V8 (SOHC, three valves per cylinder) with variable camshaft timing. Both engines use Regular 87 octane gasoline. The V6 is mated to a standard five-speed automatic transmission while the V8 gets the six-speed autobox.

Base XLT 4X2 and 4X4 models start at $30,599 and $33,699 respectively and include standard 235/70R16-inch all season tires, grey bodyside cladding, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, power locks with keyless entry, power windows with driver’s side one-touch-down control, power mirrors, cruise control, speed-sensitive wipers, privacy glass, black roof side rails, and Class II trailer towing hitch.

4X4s include a full-time four-wheel drive system ‘4X4 Auto’ that’s rear-biased and sends torque to the front wheels when needed. Using pushbuttons, drivers can also select part-time ‘4X4 High’ with a 50/50 front/rear torque split, and ‘4X4 Low’ with a lower gear ratio for tackling steep inclines.

Standard safety features on all Sport Tracs include four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, AdvanceTrac stability control, Roll Stability Control to help prevent rollovers, a tire pressure monitoring system, front side airbags, and tether anchors for child seats on the outboard rear seating positions.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The Sport Trac Limited (4X2 $33,699 and 4X4 $38,299) adds these features to the XLT: monochromatic exterior paint, fog lamps, 18-inch all-season tires and alloy wheels, step bars, six-way power driver’s seat, two tone leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather shift knob.

Available options include premium audio system with six-CD changer and MP3 player and subwoofer; dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, moonroof, curtain airbags, power adjustable pedals, DVD-entertainment system, reverse sensors, Class III towing package, three-bar flip-over bed extender, roof rack crossbars, heated windshield, hard tonneau cover, power sliding rear window, and door keypad.

My Sport Trac Limited test vehicle was equipped with optional curtain airbags ($600), heated windshield ($405), Class III trailer pkg ($500), bed extender ($230), and hard tonneau cover ($895) for a total price of $41,949 plus $1,200 Freight.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge


Interior impressions

Since the new Sport Trac is 109 mm (4.3 in.) longer and 48 mm (1.9 in.) wider than the old truck, and has a wheelbase that’s 116 mm (4.6 in.) longer, the interior feels considerably roomier and more comfortable, especially for rear passengers. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom for front and rear passengers, and the rear compartment is now comfortable enough for three abreast. The outboard head restraints tilt down when not in use to improve the driver’s visibility, and the optional power rear window ($160) is retractable from the driver’s seat. Tuflor rubber floor covering is easily washable.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The cabin in the Limited model is nicely finished with attractive two-tone leather seats and door inserts, a gigantic leather shift knob, and leather-wrapped steering wheel with integral audio and cruise buttons. Cream-coloured gauges for tachometer and speedometer with chrome trim are attractive and easy to read as is the bright digital display between them. The radio and heater controls are clearly marked with white letters on a black background, but personally, I prefer a heater with rotary dials rather than pushbuttons.

The Sport Trac’s unique inside door handles are “ergonomically designed to the shape of the human hand at rest,” says Ford, but passengers with a tight grip can open the door by mistake. As well, I didn’t like the position of the inside pull handles below the door armrests. Closing the door from the inside is awkward.

The rear seatbacks fold down in a 60/40 split, providing an almost flat surface for carrying cargo inside the cab, but there is no ‘midgate’ pass-through to the box, such as in the Chevrolet Avalanche.


Cargo box

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The Sport Trac’s composite cargo box is actually wider than it is long: 155 cm (61.0 in.) wide, 127 cm (50.1 in.) long, and 54 cm (21.1 in.) tall. The plastic construction is very durable and won’t scratch cargo items the way a steel box will. Three tie-down cleats on each side of the box provide anchors for tying down cargo, and the plastic covers on top of the side walls and tailgate prevent damage when loading items over the side. A wide under-floor cargo bin is located at the front of the box, useful for tools and gear, while the two smaller ones can hold drinks, or ice, or what-have-you. Each has drain plugs.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The optional flip-over tubular aluminum bed extender extends the load floor with the tailgate down, and serves as a bed divider when the tailgate is up. As well, the optional hard tonneau cover, which folds over in the middle, turns the box into a weather resistant trunk that’s lockable. Reportedly, this cover will withstand up to 272 kg (600 lbs) of weight on top. The Sport Trac’s maximum payload ranges from 635 kg (1400 lb) in 4X4s to 658 kg (1450 lb) in 4X2s.

One advantage to the Sport Trac’s short box is that the overall length is shorter than some long box pickups, making it relatively manoeuvrable.


Driving impressions

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

The Sport Trac’s four wide doors make it easy to get in the front or the rear, but the step-up height is quite high. The optional step bars on my test truck made it easier. Once seated, the driver and passengers have excellent outward visibility courtesy of the large windows and a tall roofline.

The new frame, which is reportedly 444% stiffer because it adopts the F-150’s tube-through-tube design where the cross beams pass through the frame rails, provides a solid chassis, improved handling, and fewer squeaks and rattles. In addition, the new independent rear suspension offers two noticeable advantages over the solid rear axle of it predecessor: a more comfortable ride, and less ‘rear-end skate’ – a lateral motion caused by sudden bumps which causes the rear-end to ‘skate’ sideways, particularly when cornering. Another factor in the Sport Trac’s improved ride is its longer wheelbase which makes the ride less choppy. As well, its substantially wider track improves stability and handling. However, the Sport Trac’s turning diameter of 12.5 metres (41.0 ft.) is quite wide making it less manoeuvrable in the city. But all in all, I found the new Sport Trac to be a much nicer truck to drive than the previous one.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

There’s also the nice feeling of having standard stability control (which automatically corrects understeer or oversteer) and Ford’s Roll Stability Control which senses an impending rollover and uses the stability control to try and avoid it. Though I didn’t drive in snow, the Sport Trac 4X4’s full-time four-wheel drive system is another important safety feature that provides significantly more traction than rear-wheel drive. I would recommend going for the 4X4 model.

The new Sport Trac has performed well in recent crash tests. In NHTSA tests, the 2007 Sport Trac received five stars in both frontal and side impact tests, and in IIHS frontal offset crash tests, the 2007 Sport Trac received a “Good” rating.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

My truck had the optional 4.6-litre V8 and six-speed automatic transmission which provided seamless acceleration and performance. Despite a substantial curb weight of 2174 kg (4793 lbs), the Sport Trac accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.2 seconds, according to independent tests conducted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. On the highway, it can go from 80 to 120 km/h in 7.2 seconds. However, braking performance is below par: AJAC braking tests from 100 km/h to 0 show a distance of 49.9 metres (164 ft.), about three or four metres longer than most SUVs and pickups tested at the 2006 AJAC Car of the Year ‘testfest’ event in October.

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

Still, the Sport Trac’s overall performance, steering, and handling are much like a regular Explorer SUV, with the added advantage of a useful, open cargo box. As I said in my first review of the original Sport Trac back in 2001, it’s kind of like having two vehicles in one. Sure, the Sport Trac won’t carry seven passengers, and it’s harder to park (I’d recommend the optional Reverse Sensors to make parking easier), but for those buyers who want a roomy, comfortable mid-size, four-door pickup that can tow a recreational trailer, the Sport Trac may be the niche vehicle they’ve been looking for.


Reliability

2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4x4
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Limited V8 4×4. Click image to enlarge

As a new design, it’s difficult to predict the Sport Trac’s reliability, but since it’s very similar to the Explorer which was redesigned in 2006, that vehicle might give us some idea. Consumer Reports rates the 2006 Explorer’s predicted reliability as “Much worse than average” but that score is based on the reliability of earlier Explorers. With the exception of fuel economy, the 2006 Explorer scored ‘average’ or ‘better than average’ in most areas surveyed by CR.


Verdict

A roomier, more comfortable vehicle than the previous Sport Trac, the 2007 model offers more pulling power courtesy of an optional V8 and a much more comfortable ride courtesy of an independent rear suspension and longer wheelbase. Downsides? A wide turning circle, short box, and poor braking performance.


Pricing

Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Honda Ridgeline


Crash test results


Manufacturer’s web site

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