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RIGHT ON TRACK
2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac V8 melds best of both worlds

By Larry Walton, Truck Test Digest West Coast Editor

Another one of my friends is trading in his pickup for an SUV, which really annoys me.  “Why should you care,” you ask?  Because so many people don’t think they need to own a pickup as long as they have friends who are truck owners.  If you are thinking about downsizing, I’d like to suggest a very versatile alternative:  the 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac..

Although the new Sport Trac is patterned very closely after the Explorer, which went through some big changes for the 2006 model, there is one very obvious difference.  The Sport Trac has a 4-foot cargo box that gives it some serious pickup capabilities.

This all new bed is constructed of corrosion-proof sheet molded composite (SMC).  Lots of guys put bed liners in their trucks right away.  Not necessary here.  The black inner liner is molded-in and resists scratches and dents.

Also molded-in are notches for 2x4s to span across the box to create two levels of storage including 4x8 sheets of plywood. The outside of the box has integrated tie-down anchors, which can be very handy for strapping down your stuff.

The Sport Trac box also features three storage compartments in the floor of the cargo area.  While the bins have weather-resistant lids we would like to see some locks on them so tools could be kept there full-time.  The bins do have drain plugs, which makes them useful as six-pack sized ice chests.

The Ford guys know that a 4-footer is not a big box as trucks go so they offer a tubular aluminum cargo cage as a bed extender when the tailgate is down.  When flipped back inside the bed with the tailgate closed, the cage functions as a cargo divider, which can be helpful to keep grocery bags from traveling around in the cargo box.

Also available is a locking hard tonneau cover to keep gear out of the weather and out of the reach of unwelcome guests (like friends who want to get into those built-in coolers).  You might want to know that the tonneau surface can support up to 600 lbs (300 each half) for race viewing or for displaying big game.

BIGGER BONES

The new, much stiffer frame of the Sport Trac is also very similar to the Explorer.  This new frame, which gave the Explorer much improved ride and handling, is patterned after the F-150.  “Conceptually, the fundamental architecture is the same as the 2006 Explorer,” according to John Davis, Sport Trac vehicle engineering manager. “However, we added almost 17 inches in wheelbase to the frame as well as minor modifications such as the spare tire carrier, a unique driveshaft carrier, and a unique, integrated tow bar.”

“Although the chassis hardware is identical, it is tuned differently,” says Davis. “We really created a new product, and needed to tune the chassis as a system. For example, we use a unique steering ratio to accommodate the longer wheelbase, and stiffer dampers, coil springs, and roll bars to accommodate the change in weight distribution.”

The results are remarkable.  The stability is evident when throwing the Sport Trac into corners.  Cornering is also improved by the all new suspension set up. For 2007, the Sport Trac features the same independent rear suspension (IRS) assembly showcased on the Explorer.  Suspension features include a short-/long-arm, coil-over-shock design. Stamped-steel upper and lower control arms are both stronger and significantly lighter.

What the Ford engineers did for strength, ride and stability also greatly reduced road noise, a common complaint of the old Sport Trac.  Because the new Sport Trac adopts the F-150’s tube-through-tube frame design, the cross beams pass through the frame rails, creating inherently stronger joints, which are then completely welded around the perimeter.  A reduction in frame flex means body panels and trim pieces stay put, which reduces squeaks and rattles.

FINALLY, V-8 POWER

For the first time, the Sport Trac is available with a V-8 engine. The 4.6-liter, three-valve V-8 delivers 292 horsepower, which is good news for those of us who want to haul and pull stuff.  It also makes it more fun drive and, as I tell my wife, safer – you know for merging into traffic and stuff.

Coupled to this engine is a new six-speed 6R automatic transmission, which brings transmission technology usually found only in luxury vehicles.  Many of us have long thought (and often expressed over a beer or two) the need for more gears.  Here you go.  The wide ratio span and the extra gear of the 6R enable the engine to spend more time at optimum rpm for peak power or for fuel economy.

The added power also helps the Sport Trac improve its payload capacity to 1,390 pounds and towing limits to 6,800 pounds.  To match the increased capability, 2007 Sport Trac now features sizeable, four-wheel-disc brakes: 305- x 30-millimeter vented front discs, and 301- x 12-millimeter solid rear discs. The two-piston front calipers measure 51 millimeters for increased pad surface area. In addition, new caliper housings are stronger for less flex under full brake pressure. This provides increased braking effectiveness and improved heat control.

Traction

All Sport Trac 4x4 models now feature the advanced Control Trac® four-wheel-drive system with electronic logic controlling a two-speed transfer case.  Control Trac® allows a driver to select between three driving modes:

  • The 4x4 AUTO (or A4WD) mode engages the transfer case clutch as required to provide maximum traction in all driving conditions. The system constantly monitors throttle, steering, and wheel speeds to determine the required level of clutch activation. This mode is appropriate for any driving condition.
  • The 4x4 HIGH (4H) mode effectively locks the transfer case clutch, maintaining the same speed for the front and rear driveshafts. It is intended only for severe winter or off-road conditions, such as deep snow, ice and shallow sand.
  • The 4x4 LOW (4L) mode locks the transfer case clutch and engages a torque-multiplying gear set in the transfer case. It is intended only for off-road conditions that require extra power, including deep sand, steep grades, and towing a boat trailer out of water.

We found the Sport Trac to be capable off road on steep terrain, loose dirt and rock.  However, we got it into some situations, which indicated full-locking differentials would be helpful.  ARB, for one, says they have lockers that will fit the new Sport Trac.

The 2007 Sport Trac is designed knowing that we often spend hours a day in our vehicles.  All new interior designs, which follow many features of the Explorer, are a nice blend of comfort, sport and utility.  For example, two-tone cloth or leather-trimmed seats are available with10-way power-adjustments, but you can still hose out and wipe down the floors.  Ford calls this the “tough luxury” concept and it really works.

And that’s what you want in a new vehicle, isn’t it?  One that supplies comfort for those everyday drives but can get some work done when pressed into service.  When it comes to your stuff, the 2007 Sport Trac delivers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

    V-6   V-8
   BODY
Construction Steel and composite body on fully boxed frame
Final Assembly Location Louisville , Ky. Louisville, Ky.  
   POWERTRAIN AND CHASSIS
ENGINE
Type V-6 V-8
Manufacturing Location Cologne , Germany Romeo, Michigan
Configuration Cast iron block and aluminum heads Cast iron block and aluminum heads
Intake Manifold Composite, shell welded
with internal runner pack
Composite shell-welded single runner, charge motion control valves
Exhaust Manifold Cast iron Cast iron
Crankshaft Cast iron Cast iron
Redline 6,000 rpm 6,250 rpm
Idle Speed in Drive 625 rpm 635 rpm
Throttle Body 65 mm 75 mm
Valvetrain SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder SOHC, 3 valves per cylinder,
variable camshaft timing
Valve Diameter Intake: 46.0 mm
Exhaust:39.0 mm
Intake: 33.8 mm
Exhaust:37.5 mm
Pistons Hypereutectic aluminum Hypereutectic aluminum
Connecting Rods Forged steel Cracked powdered metal with floating wristpins
Ignition Distributorless with coil pack Coil on plug, high-thread-insert spark plugs
Bore x stroke 3.95 x 3.32 in. / 100.4 x 84.4 mm 3.55 x 3.54 in. / 90.2 x 90.0 mm
Displacement 245 cu. in. / 4,009 cc 281 cu. in. / 4,606 cc
Compression ratio 9.7:1 9.8:1
Horsepower 210 @ 5,100 rpm 292 @ 5,750 rpm
Horsepower per liter 52.5 63.5
Torque 254 lb.-ft. @ 3,700 rpm 300 lb.-ft. @ 3,950 rpm
Recommended fuel 87 Octane 87 Octane
Fuel capacity 22.5 Gallons 22.5 Gallons
Fuel Injection Sequential multi-port fuel injection Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Emission Control Closed loop with catalyst Closed loop with catalyst
Emissions (tailpipe/evaporation)
Federal standards
California standards
Tier 2, Bin 4/LEV2
Tier 2, Bin 4/LEV2
Interim Tier 2, Bin 5/Tier 2
ULEV2/LEV2
Oil Capacity 5 quarts with filter 6 quarts with filter
Recommended Oil GF-4, 5W-30 GF-4, 5W-20
Coolant Capacity 12.5 quarts 12.7 quarts
DRIVETRAIN
Layout Rear- or four-wheel drive (active  torque-on-demand 4x4 system) Rear- or four-wheel drive (active  torque-on-demand 4x4 system)
TRANSMISSION
Standard 5-speed automatic overdrive 6-speed automatic overdrive
Gear Ratios    
  1 st 3.22:1 4.17:1
  2 nd 2.29:1 2.34:1
  3 rd 1.54:1 1.52:1
  4 th 1.00:1 1.14:1
  5 th 0.71:1 0.86:1
  6 th N/A 0.69:1
  REV 3.07:1 3.40:1
  Final Drive 0.71:1 0.69:1
REAR AXLE RATIO
  Standard 3.73 3.55
  Optional NA NA
SUSPENSION
Front Independent short- and long-arms ( SLA) design with coil-over shocks.
1.34" stabilizer bar
Rear Independent Trailing Blade short- and long-arm ( SLA) design with coil-over shocks.
0.77" stabilizer bar
STEERING
Type Low-friction rack-and-pinion with power assist
Steering column Tilt
Ratio 18.9:1
Turns lock-to-lock Not reported
Turning circle curb-to-curb 36.8 ft.
BRAKES
Type Four-wheel power disc brakes with standard 4-sensor, 4-channel antilock braking system (ABS) and AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control
Front 305 x 30 mm ventilated
Swept area 780 cm²
Rear 301 x 12 mm solid
Swept area 608 cm²
Power assist Vacuum with ABS
   
FUEL ECONOMY (city/hwy)
4x2 4.0L V6 5-speed automatic 15/21
4x2 4.6L V8 6-speed automatic 15/21
   
4x4 4.0L V6 5-speed automatic 15/20
4x4 4.6L V8 6-speed automatic 14/20
   
TIRES AND WHEELS
  P235/70R16 A/S OWL tires/ 16 x 7.0 in. cast-aluminum wheels
P245/65R17 A/S OWL tires/17x 7.5 in. cast-aluminum wheels
P235/65R18 A/S OWL tires/ 18 x 7.5 in. machined aluminum  wheels
Recommended tire pressure (front/rear) 35 psi / 35 psi (16-in wheels)
35 psi / 35 psi (17-inch wheels)
32 psi / 32 psi (18-inch wheels)
   
   
   DIMENSIONS (inches unless otherwise noted)
EXTERIOR
Wheelbase 130.5
Overall length 210.2
Overall width (excluding mirrors) 73.7
Overall height 72.5
Track width, front/rear 60.8/61.8
Ground clearance  
Approach angle 28.7 degrees
Departure angle 17.2 degrees 
Ramp breakover angle 17.2 degrees 
Cargo box length at floor 49.6
Cargo box width at floor (Maximum) 61.4
Cargo box height 21.2
INTERIOR
Seating capacity 5 passenger
Headroom
  Front row 39.8
  Second row 38.5
Legroom
  Front row 42.4
  Second row 36.9
Shoulder room
  Front row 59.0
  Second row 58.9
Hip room
  Front row 55.4
  Second row 55.5
   
   WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES (pounds unless otherwise noted)
Maximum towing capacity (when properly equipped) V-6 V-8
  4X2 5310 6800
  4X4 5140 6640
     
Maximum payload    
  4X2 1390 1380
  4X4 1370 1350
Base curb weight
  4X2 4516 4618
  4X4 4687 4793
Weight distribution (f/r) 4x2: 55/45
4x4: 56/44
4x2: 56/44
4x4: 56/44
     
   MAJOR STANDARD EQUIPMENT
XLT Battery saver; AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control (RSC®); Tire pressure monitoring system; Front side seat air bags; Steering column lock/ignition security and column tilt; BeltMinder?; Securilock® engine immobilizer-anti-theft system; LATCH (Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children) system on rear outboard seat locations; Security approach lamps; Manual CFC-free air conditioning with rotary controls;  AM/FM audio system with single CD, MP3 player; Cruise control; Power door locks with remote entry key fobs; Message center with 2-line display and outside temperature and compass; Speed-sensitive front intermittent wipers; Power windows with driver-side one-touch-down control; Dual power side mirrors with black skull caps; Black bodyside cladding and wheel lip moldings; Chrome-finished grille; 16-in. cast aluminum wheels; Powerpoints in the first and second rows and cargo area; Driver and front-row passenger vanity mirrors; 3.73 non-limited slip rear axle, standard with 4.0L engine; 3.55 non-limited slip rear axle standard with 4.6L engine; Privacy glass; Black roof rails; Class II trailer towing hitch, cargo bed storage compartments and tie downs
Limited adds Fog lamps; Automatic headlamps; Monochromatic exterior; 18-in machined Aluminum wheels with P235/65R18 A/S tires; Silver step bars; Silver roof side rails with black end caps; Leather-wrapped steering; 6-way power-adjustable driver�s seat, High-series floor console, Leather shift knob
NS OPTIONS
Interior Audiophile AM/FM audio system with six-CD, MP3 player and powered subwoofer; SIRIUS satellite digital audio receiver system; Two-tone leather-trimmed seats (LTD only); 10-way power-adjustable drivers seat (LTD only); Overhead console; Heated first- row seats (LTD only); Safety Canopy side air curtain system; Moonroof; Adjustable Pedals; Power moonroof, Auto-dimming rearview mirror, Dual-Zone automatic temperature control (LTD only), secondary steering wheel-mounted audio and climate controls (LTD only)
Exterior Trailer tow prep package/Class III/IV; Bed extender; Roof rail crossbars; Heated windshield; Hard tonneau cover, Illuminated door entry keypad
   OTHER
Exterior color Dark Blue Pearl clearcoat metallic; Silver Birch clearcoat metallic; Mineral Grey clearcoat metallic; Dark Cherry clearcoat metallic; Oxford White clearcoat; Black clearcoat; Pueblo Gold clearcoat metallic; Redfire clearcoat metallic; Dark Stone clearcoat metallic , Dark Cherry (Limited array only)
Interior trim Camel; Light Stone; Dark Charcoal
   WARRANTY INFORMATION
Warranty 3-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper
  5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and roadside assistance
   
Specifications subject to change.
       

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