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2007 Ford Sport Trac Review : Road Test, Specs, Photos

2007 Ford Sport Trac expanded combines a pickup and SUV

by Bob Plunkett

A heap of sand stacks hundreds of feet high to fashion a mound-like lump looming over Lake Elsinore in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern California. A twin-rut trail leads straight to the top of this hill, and we find multiple reasons why we should steer our test vehicle up the steep and slippery slope.

2007 Ford Sport Trac Review : Road Test, Specs, Photos

The tester in this instance is a four-wheel-drive (4WD) version of Ford's 2007 Sport Trac, a crossover vehicle which rides on the chassis of Ford's Explorer SUV and gets the four-door and five-seat passenger compartment of Explorer yet foregoes Explorer's rear cargo bay in favor of the abbreviated bed of a pickup truck.

With a cabin like a SUV but the brief back box of a pickup, Sport Trac functions as both a truck and SUV, which explains its description as a sport-utility truck, or SUT. Ford originated the concept by fashioning the 2001 Sport Trac off Explorer's platform, but the next generation Sport Trac pops up as a 2007 model using components from the redesigned Explorer of 2006.

This re-do creates a larger and more powerful SUT. Sport Trac for 2007 has a wheelbase of 130.5 inches, which stretches 4.6 inches longer than the predecessor Sport Trac. The overall length increases by 4.3 inches to 210.2 inches, with the width expanding two inches to 73.7 inches and the roofline capping 2.4 inches higher at 72.5 inches.

A robust new tube-through-tube frame that's stronger and far less flexible than the previous chassis becomes a core ingredient for the new Sport Trac, and it carries a suspension system rarely found on a truck -- there are independent components suspending the rear wheels as well as the front ones.

These structural changes for chassis and suspension dramatically affect the ride and handling characteristics.

In effect, Sport Trac feels smooth and settled now like it's a part of the road and, when pitched into the face of a hard corner, the SUT reacts with a flat stance to forge a stable track through the curve without tossing the structure off-center or unsettling riders strapped inside.

The new version features a crisp new design for the sheetmetal outside and upgraded materials in the cabin, with two new engine choices and more safety gear aboard.

Sport Trac looks muscular in the new design posed in tall stance with a bold face, curvy bulges on the sides around wheelwells and large squarish headlamp clusters on front corners flanking a big grille in the shape of an inverted trapezoid.

In profile, Sport Trac appears the same as Explorer from the front bumper and rearward to the pillar behind the second side door. Beyond that pillar, the wagon's enclosed cargo compartment has been replaced with the sawed-off bed of a pickup.

2007 Ford Sport Trac Review : Road Test, Specs, Photos

The truck box, 49.66 inches long at floor level and 61.4 inches wide, is made from sturdy composite material and contains three storage bins tucked into the floor, each with a weather-resistant lid and drain plug. The box contains 37.5 cubic feet in volume, with a pickup gate in back and optional rigid tonneau cover as a lid that locks and also folds in half.

Obviously, the box does not approximate the bed of a conventional pickup and it won't accommodate truck load standards like 4x8 sheets of plywood. It will, however, provide enough room for a pile of sports gear, a dirt bike or two or snowboards and backpacks.

Also, there's an option for the U-shaped tubular stainless steel brace which swings out to form a bed-extending rail with the tailgate folded flat for a floor.

Sport Trac comes in two-wheel-drive (2WD) and 4WD versions with equipment increasing through two deluxe trim designations of XLT and Limited.

Inside, the spacious cabin reveals new decorative trimwork, a revised instrument panel with stylish gauges, plus firm front row bucket seats. The second row has a three-seat bench but the seatback splits 60/40 with fold-down seatbacks. With seatbacks folded flat, the space converts to an interior cargo compartment.

Issues of personal safety are addressed with strong structural elements and energy-absorbing crush zones front and rear plus a variety of safety systems aboard.

Both trim versions contain dual-stage frontal air bags for front riders plus side-impact air bags.

Sport Trac also offers roll-over protection via Ford's Safety Canopy curtain-style side air bags housed in the headliner above first and second rows. It will deploy if on-board sensors detect roll-over movement of the vehicle.

Gear promoting active safety includes a fast rack and pinion steering mechanism and standard four-wheel disc brakes, an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Ford's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC) anti-skid equipment.

The optional 4WD Control Trac system also relates to safety, as the mechanism has an automatic mode that monitors grip for all wheels and can selectively distribute traction between front and rear wheels to maintain tire bite on slippery roads.

Push-button controls allow the driver to lock the system in high or low range of 4WD for off-road travel and draw upon a torque-multiplying gear set in the transfer case for extra power when tackling deep sand and steep grades.

That's what we used to climb the sandy hump overlooking Lake Elsinore, but Sport Trac took all the work out of that chore, quickly scaling the mound.

2007 Ford Sport Trac Review : Road Test, Specs, Photos

Powertrain upgrades apply to the 2007 Sport Trac. The standard engine, a 4.0-liter single-cam V6, has a new camshaft and variable valve timing plus improved emission controls to achieve ULEV II status. It produces 210 hp at 5100 rpm with strong torque dispersed evenly across the range of engine speeds up to 254 lb-ft at 3700 rpm. Tied to the V6 is a five-speed automatic which employs adaptive shift logic through electronic controls.

The optional engine, a new aluminum V8 plant in single-cam design with 4.6-liter displacement and three valves per cylinder, punches out 292 hp at 5750 rpm plus big torque of 300 lb-ft at 3950 rpm.

The V8 mates exclusively with a new six-speed electronic automatic which improves fuel economy and elevates Sport Trac's trailer towing capacity up to 6800 pounds for the 2WD version.

Mid-size sport-utility truck
Model options:

Sport Trac XLT
Sport Trac Limited

Engine size:

SOHC 4.0-L V6
SOHC 4.6-L V8


V6: Auto/5
V8: Auto/6


130.5 inches

Overall Length:

210.2 inches

Rear/Front Drive:

4WD/Control Trac


Power rack and pinion


Power 4-disc

Air bags:

2 (front)
2 (side)
+ opt. 4 (side curtain)

Fuel Economy:

V8 2WD: 15/21 mpg
V8 4WD: 14/20 mpg


V6 2WD: $24,940
V8 4WD: $30,235