New Car/Review

Ford

Ford Explorer Sport Trac (2001)

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 25,270
     Price As Tested                                    $ 28,205
     Engine Type              SOHC 12-valve 4.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 245 cid/4011 cc
     Horsepower                                   204 @ 5000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               247 @ 3000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  125.9"/71.8"/205.9"
     Transmission                           Five-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4575 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  20.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          255/70R16 all-terrain
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                 75 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            16/20/18
     0-60 MPH                                        9.0 seconds
     Maximum cargo capacity                          1200 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         5000 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - Ford has been around long enough to know when a vehicle trend is ripe for changes, and the SUV market is ready for some wild ones. The 2001 Explorer Sport Trac is a 4-door, 5-passenger SUV/pickup that's available in two trims, the 4x2 and 4x4, and its exterior is so much different from the norm that you might think it's a Concept Truck and not a production model. It's an Explorer with the last couple of feet chopped off and a small truck bed added on. It an almost perfect off-road camping/mountain biking machine. Our test unit was equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produced 205 horse and a more than adequate 240 pound-feet of torque. Our tester was the 4x4 model and we used it for a number of different things, including as a plain old errand runner. To Mikele's dismay, we didn't test its four-wheeler capabilities but I'm sure her father appreciates us not ripping up his property anymore than we already have.

MIKELE - I know he's was OK with it Bren, because when you weren't looking, we did a little father/daughter four-wheeler bonding. My first reaction to the Sport Trac's look was one of shock, but I thought its 50-inch cargo bed was kind of cute. It's also a pretty rugged-looking vehicle and it was great fun when Dad and I blazed the trails and rough roads around the old homestead. The four-speed automatic shifted smooth enough for me, but Dad would have preferred a five-speed manual. He's still a hot-rodder at heart. It handled quite well, too, and I'm told that its thicker frame rails and new tubular crossmembers have a lot to do with handling. The chassis is 40-percent stiffer than the regular Explorer SUV and it has urethane body mounts to decrease road and engine vibration to the passengers.

BRENDAN - I liked its big, white-faced gauges and the 'industrial' accents on the door panels. Five people can fit in the Sport Trac, but it's a pretty cramped affair for shoulder room when three get in the back. The 60/40 split rear seats fold down, making extra cargo space. The bed is made of a composite plastic to make it lighter, and even though it's small, it holds enough stuff to make it almost practical. My mountain bike was a tight fit, but by removing the front wheel, it sat in the cargo bed just fine. I could really use this truck/SUV for tailgating during the Oakland As baseball season, so maybe we can get it back in time for one of my many planned guy-soirees. If it came standard with a barbecue, I might just run out and buy one.

MIKELE - The styling of the Sport Trac reminds me of a Swiss Army Knife, and I expected a compass or saw to pop out at any minute. The audio system features an AM/FM single disc CD player, but I would have preferred an optional six-disc player, because changing single CDs is a boring chore when we're on a long trip. Safety-wise, the Sport Trac has dual air bags, of course, and structural crumple zones to help protect the passengers during a frontal crash. It also has side door beams, which help during side impacts. Anti-lock brakes are standard as well, and the Sport Trac comes equipped with Belt-Miner, a system that reminds us to buckle up, although I can't imagine anyone stupid enough to not use them. Child-seat tethers are also standard at all three locations in the rear seat, and an electronic system keeps the vehicle from being started unless a special ignition key with a built-in transponder is used. This feature is becoming the norm on all cars and I'm sure it cuts down on vehicle theft.

BRENDAN - I hope we never have to worry about that Mikele. Most stolen cars are never recovered.

MIKELE - If you can remember to lock the doors we won't have to. Joy-riding kids are more apt to steal some sort of 'beater' than a high-profile vehicle like this Explorer, so try to keep remembering to take the keys out the ignition of your old pickup.

 

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