for the Ford Explorer Sport Trac is long overdue, and Ford finally gave
a hint of its plans for the popular but much maligned SUT. The Explorer
Sport Trac Concept hit the stage at the North American International Auto
Show looking like a street rod with shaved door handles, slammed stance,
gunmetal wheels and a healthy dose of front-end chrome. It drew a few
“ooohs” and “aaahhs,” but does it really have
the innovation to keep up with current SUTs and 4-door midsize pickups?
At first glance, it
doesn’t seem as if more utility was built into the Concept, especially
when judged against the Chevy Avalanche and Honda Ridgeline with their
versatile beds. But chief designer Chelsia Lau stressed that the cab and
bed are bigger, and the cargo box has three additional, hidden storage
“There is very
sizeable storage, and there is a height increase in the bed,” said
Lau, noting a 30 percent increase in storage volume.
the Sport Trac Concept is five inches longer and two inches wider than
the current model. The exterior is highlighted by a dominating milled
front bumper/grille surround that retains twin nostrils backed by an imposing
diamond mesh grille. The alloy look up front continues with dual high-intensity
projector fog lamps encased in aluminum bezels. Going for overkill, Ford
designers located four exhaust outlets on the front end: a pair on the
hood and side outlets accented with a chrome strip.
boards, exhaust pipe extensions, 21-inch wheels and subtle tailgate spoiler
round out the exterior highlights. The interior features four bucket seats
while the dash and center console with floor shifter are patterned somewhat
after the current F-150.
The bed is wider,
longer and deeper than the current model. Additional storage is offered
with three hidden compartments: one on each side near the tailgate post
that can hold a 6-pack and a larger one near the cab. The bed is also
fitted with 2-tier loading capability, but we didn’t notice any
other special features such as bed lights or remote power outlets.
Ford addressed safety
issues with the current model by building the Concept with independent
rear suspension, Roll Stability Control and anti-lock brakes.
gave no indication of when the Concept would become reality, but the current
Sport Trac is still based on the previous generation Explorer. While the
Sport Trac may have been the innovator in offering four doors and a bed
in the compact market, this segment has grown tremendously in just the
past few years. Nissan, Toyota, Chevy, GMC, Dodge and now Honda all have
midsize crew cab pickups with SUV comforts, plenty of towing ability,
powerful engines and useful utility features. If Ford is going to “raise
the bar” in this segment, it better rethink this concept.