2001 to 2010: Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Introduced in 2001, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac reflected a trend that saw some manufacturers melding the features and functionality of SUVs and trucks. Its closest competitor was the larger Chevrolet Avalanche. The premium Cadillac Escalade EXT was another model featuring this styling trend.
The first-generation Ford Explorer Sport Trac was built from 2001 to 2005 and was based on an earlier Ford Explorer platform. The second-generation model was built from 2007 to 2010 and then canceled as an all-new, unibody Ford Explorer made its debut for 2011. No 2006 model was made.
The Explorer Sport Trac is effectively an SUV with a 4-foot truck bed affixed to its rear. That design gave this four-door model a unique place in the market.
Upon its release, the first-generation Explorer Sport Trac was powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that’s paired with a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.
Changes for the first-generation Explorer Sport Trac were minor from year to year. For 2002, Ford tweaked the engine to give it slightly more horsepower and torque. New colors and equipment changes were also rolled out.
For 2003, Ford updated the colors, introduced new bucket seats, and brought out revised door trim. The previously optional rear disc brakes were now standard, and a new safety canopy air bag system was introduced as an option.
Beginning in 2004, Ford revised this model’s instrument cluster and dropped the manual transmission option on the XLS trim. All models were now flex-fuel capable, allowing owners to fuel up with an ethanol blend. For 2005, the Sport Trac’s audio systems featured satellite radio and MP3 compatibility.
The 2007 to 2010 Sport Trac was based on the then-current generation Explorer platform, adding nearly 5 inches in length over the outgoing model.
The second-generation Sport Trac brought improvements such as a four-wheel independent suspension, standard roll stability control and the introduction of an optional 4.6-liter V8 engine.
For 2008, Ford made certain previously optional features standard across the product line, including side curtain air bags, fog lights, a power rear window and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Beginning in 2009, satellite radio became standard and trailer sway control was added to the stability control system. Heated leather seats and heated side mirrors became available.
Only minor equipment changes were made for the Explorer Sport Trac’s final year of production.
Other models to consider in this segment include the Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline and GMC Canyon.