compact pickup truck market is a little more crowded and compelling with
the release of the next-generation 2007 Ford Explorer Sport Trac.
a few scandalous moments in its previous life, the Sport Trac enjoys perhaps
the most enthusiastic customer base of any Ford truck product, especially
with female buyers. Now enjoying a quieter ride, full list of standard
safety features and available V8 engine, it can leverage that popularity
to maintain, if not improve, its position in a market that has expanded
in opportunities but is shrinking in sales.
provide sales numbers for the Sport Trac, but officials hint that the
Sport Trac is responsible for 20 to 25 percent of Explorer sales. That’s
pencils out to about 60,000 units a year, more than any other 4-door compact
pickup with the possible exception of the Toyota Tacoma. The new Honda
Ridgeline is on track to surpass its original sales goal 50,000 units
a year, but the new Sport Trac may slow down the Ridgeline’s momentum
for two reasons: price and power.
is often criticized for lack of a V8. The Sport Trac offers a 292-horsepower
4.6-liter V8 backed by a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Ridgeline’s
V6 is worth a healthy 255 horsepower, and the Ridgeline is about 350 pounds
lighter than the Sport Trac, but the American appetite for a V8 exhaust
note is as strong as ever. Ford officials say the V8 option is exercised
in about 25 percent of all Explorers. For the Sport Trac, that figure
jumps to 40 percent. In other words, Sport Trac owners are more aggressive.
A 4x4 Sport
Trac has a starting price of $27,435 while a 2-wheel-drive version can
be purchased for as low as $24,940. The lowest-priced Ridgeline is $28,320.
The Sport Trac is still higher priced than comparable crew-cab midsize
Trac was first designed for active, recreational lifestyles, or at least
those who pretended to have active, recreational lifestyles. As the innovator
in this segment, it could get by with a single trim level and few options.
Now the truck has grown up, offering luxury trims and amenities to serve
a wider group of customers. It still has the mixed marriage configuration
of an SUV cab and small composite pickup bed. The rubber floor covering
with its hose-it-out flexibility is still there, but under nice carpeted
in the Sport Trac’s maturation is the addition of just about every
safety feature possible. The previous Sport Trac was not built on the
previous generation Explorer but the first generation Explorer. The old
Sport Trac was associated with the Explorer/Firestone controversy and
also was saddled with the worst rollover rating from NHTSA. Now that the
new Sport Trac is based on the current generation Explorer, it’s
actually skipped a generation and the differences are very dramatic.