Ford Explorer Family Expands with New Sport Trac
5 January 1999Ford Explorer Family Expands with New Sport Trac
DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- Ford started a revolution with the introduction of the Explorer in 1991. Now, the Explorer family is expanding with the unveiling of the revolutionary new Explorer Sport Trac at the North American International Auto Show. Explorer Sport Trac, based on the industry's number-one-selling sport utility vehicle (SUV), pairs the comfort and convenience of an SUV with the added utility of a cargo bed for "one-vehicle-does-it-all" versatility. On sale beginning next year, Explorer Sport Trac is expected to be the first vehicle of its kind offered for retail sale. "Explorer Sport Trac is great for the active customer," says Jim O'Connor, Ford Motor Company vice president and president, Ford Division. "This innovative vehicle is certain to appeal to outdoor sports enthusiasts, do-it- yourselfers and adventure seekers. "There's a great demand for a vehicle like this, and we intend to lead the industry by responding to the market needs with more and more of what customers want, sooner and sooner -- and certainly before anyone else," he adds. Ford was the first manufacturer to experiment with such a vehicle when, in January 1996, it introduced the Adrenalin concept vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Adrenalin was a design exercise intended to gauge consumer reaction to a versatile and rugged, off-road, four-wheel drive vehicle. Adrenalin featured a unique mix of toughness, refinement and comfort in a vehicle that is comfortable at work and play. Positive public response to Adrenalin led directly to Explorer Sport Trac's development. Flexibility and Power Although based on the Explorer platform, Explorer Sport Trac's rugged, athletic styling takes on a look all its own -- and offers a hint about the future of the Explorer lineup. From the C-pillar forward, Explorer Sport Trac is a five-passenger SUV. But, behind the rear passenger seat, Sport Trac breaks the mold, incorporating a versatile cargo bed. The cargo bed may remain open or can be closed with a lockable, foldable, hard tonneau cover. The bed allows customers to keep cargo separate from passengers. Explorer Sport Trac will be available in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations. It will feature a 204-horsepower, 4.0-liter SOHC V-6 linked to an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. New Niche in the SUV Market Since 1981, sport utility vehicle sales have grown from fewer than 200,000 units to nearly 2.8 million units annually in the United States. Ford Explorer is the sales leader. Introduced as a 1991 model, Explorer was the best-selling SUV in the United States for the eighth consecutive year in 1998 with sales of 425,000. It outsold its nearest competitor by nearly 2-to-1. Explorer Sport Trac is expected to reinforce Explorer's sales leadership position and is targeted to fill a new niche for customers wanting one vehicle that does it all -- from carrying a family to hauling supplies. The vehicle is expected to attract buyers considering SUVs, sports coupes and compact pickup trucks.