By Matt Bennett
I recently had an
opportunity to represent Ford Truck Enthusiasts and fly out to Laguna
Beach, California to test drive the all new 2007 Ford Explorer Sport
Trac. The “Sport Utility Truck” that I was driving was a
4.6L V8 (yes, you read that right, more on that later) equipped with
a class exclusive 6 speed automatic transmission and 4×4. It was a
Limited model. XLT is also available.
The first part of the
test drive was on road driving. We drove down the highways and in
the city. On the highway is where the 4.6L 3 valve (per cylinder) V8
shone the brightest. The engine provides you with 292 horsepower (at
5,750 prm) and 300 foot-pounds of torque at 3,950 rpm. When mated
with the 6 speed automatic transmission (the only transmission
available with this engine) getting up to speed and passing people
was not a problem at all. The engine and transmission provide nice
smooth shifts and there is definitely more than enough power for the
When traveling at 65
miles per hour I was doing approximately 1500 rpms. Ford claims
that you should be able to get more than 20 miles per gallon on the
highway from the 4.6L V8. Most competitors can maybe get that from
their V6 engine. The 4.6L V8 definitely gives you the most bang for
The vehicle I drove
was equipped to tow 6640 pounds. You can tow up to 6800 pounds with
the 2 wheel drive model. A Class II integrated trailer hitch comes
standard on all models with a 2” Class III/IV optionally
provided. It comes with a 7 pin connector as well as a 4 pin for
trailer lights. The 4 pin connector should have been located beside
the 7 pin connector. Instead, it was located under the hitch where
it could become corroded from salt, snow and water. But, that could
be a minor customer concern.
also did some off-roading at a course that Ford set up. During this
part we tested the 4 wheel drive as well and the Control Trac
feature. First, we put the truck in 4 high and climbed a hill that
was covered in mud, dirt and small boulders. I was surprised that it
climbed it with NO problems at all. The Control Trac worked
flawlessly. If you started to lose any bit of traction you could
feel the power transfer to the other tires that had it. The hill we
climbed was on, at least, a 45 degree angle and over 200 feet long.
Once we were at the
top we were told to put the truck in 4 LOW and proceed down the hill
without using the brakes. Now, that might be a difficult task in
another vehicle but not in one that had the Control Trac feature. I
went down that hill at a very slow speed and did not use the brakes
at all. It worked very well.
In addition to 4×4
HIGH and 4×4 LOW there is also 4×4 AUTO or A4WD. This mode (which is
the default one) will detect if traction is lost and automatically
engage when needed.
The frame on the 2007
Explorer Sport Trac is designed and built the same way as the 2006
Explorer SUV. It utilizes the frame through frame design from the
F-150. This results in a 444% increase in torsional stiffness
compared to the previous Sport Trac which helps reduce rattles and
squeaks. The 2007 Sport Trac is 16.8” longer than the
Explorer. It also features an independent short- and long- arm (SLA)
design with coil over shock front and rear suspension.
At the end of the
test-drive we ended up driving up and down winding roads. This gave
us a great chance to see how the vehicle brakes and steers when
cornering. The 4 wheel ABS disc brakes performed well in all
conditions. Because of the new redesigned front end the Sport Trac
now offers optional 17 and 18 inch wheel and tire packages. The
low-friction rack- and-pinion steering provides precise control when
moving on the road or in parking lots.
Safety was a HIGH
priority when Ford decided to redesign the Sport Trac. All known
safety requirements, through 2010, have been met. 10 standard
advanced safety features are available. Below are some of them.
Monitoring System (TPMS) – This feature monitors all the tires
separately and alerts you when an air loss is detected.
Bags – These are for the driver and front passenger in the
event of a side impact. Safety CanopyTM side air
curtains are optionally available which help all passengers in the
event of a roll-over or some side-impact collisions.
Belt Minder –
This gives the driver an audio and visual (in the instrument panel)
warning to help remind them to buckle up.
more safety features have been implemented to help give the Sport
Trac it’s NHTSA five-star front and side impact crash rating
for both the passenger and driver. It also received the highest
front crash test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway