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2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac – Review

Posted in 4x4, Car Reviews, Cash for Clunkers, Domestic Review, Ford, General, Off-Roading, Trucks by Corey | August 6th, 2009 | 4 Responses |

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In light of the news that the Explorer is one of the most traded-in “clunkers” in the Government’s C.A.R.S. programs, Ford may want to consider dropping it as an attachment to the Sport Trac’s model designation. But despite its unenviable association with that aging dinosaur, the 2010 Explorer Sport Trac makes a reasonable case for being your next SUV replacement.

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And by replacement we don’t mean with a fuel efficient, compact car. None of those characteristics are present with this vehicle. Also, as with most “Jack-Of-All-Trades,” the Explorer Sport Trac flirts with the dreaded “Master-Of None” label. Still, as is obvious by its truck-bed posterior, the Sport Trac offers more versatility for all of those things SUVs often only pretend to be good at.

Performance

Although it shares the basic structure of the Explorer SUV, the four-door Sport Trac is nearly 17 inches longer as a result of the four-foot-plus cargo bed. Two trims are offered: the base XLT and the Limited, and both with a choice of two and four-wheel drive. 

Adrenaline Trimmed Sport Trac

Adrenaline Trimmed Sport Trac

An additional “Adrenaline” trimmed Sport Trac features a set of entirely aesthetic add-ons including unique grille and running boards.  Ford also provides a choice between a 4.0 L V6 engine with five-speed automatic that produces 210 horsepower and 254 lb-feet of torque, or a 292 horsepower 4.6L V8 matched to a six-speed automatic with 300 lbs of torque. While we have had the tendency to err on the side of economy as of late, Ford eliminates the guilt in opting for the V8 with the nonsensical fuel economy of the V6. (see below) Sticking with the V8, drivers are rewarded with acceleration to 60 mph in a sprightly 7.5 seconds. Most critics also note how quiet the engine is under normal loads, even going so far as to compare it to luxury-car standards. The transmission is equally refined with mostly praise for the six-speed which delivers imperceptible shifting.

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Being that it adopts many of the Explorer attributes, drivers expecting a harsh truck-like ride will be surprised by the Sport Trac’s best-in class handling. 4×4 Auto mode delivers power only to the rear wheels until they slip, at which point power is delivered automatically to the front wheels. The 4×4 High mode provides a 50/50 power split to the front and rear wheels, making it ideal for off-road or severe winter conditions. The 4×4 Low mode locks the transfer case and is for the steeper grades or pulling a boat out of the water. That being said, those looking for a serious off-road machine should shop elsewhere. A bright spot for the 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac are favorable crash test scores that are boosted by a plentiful list of safety features including Ford’s AdvanceTrac with Advance Roll Control that monitors and avoids vehicle rollover conditions.

Fuel Economy

To say that fuel economy is a disappointment for the V6 is an understatement. While EPA estimates for the V8 with 2WD are only 15 mpg in city and and 21 mpg on the highway, the V6 actually LOSES fuel economy to produce a measly 14 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway.

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Styling

The Sport Trac doesn’t exactly fit into the crew cab truck crowd. This is intentional of course, for many of the upsides mentioned in ride quality above. It does, however, fail to deliver a decidedly masculine knock-out punch in style as a consequence. Instead it looks exactly like its description: truck meets SUV. This isn’t a criticism as much as it may sound. Just like the Explorer, the Sport Trac has the same style grille and scalloped headlights. The smaller 4 1/2 foot sized bed in back is constructed from a sheet-molded composite that according to Ford is 20 percent lighter than a traditional steel box and won’t rust or dent. This area utilizes three storage compartments, has a 12-volt power outlet, and can be optioned with a folding cargo-bed extender and hard, watertight, lockable tonneau cover. A must-have option for those that frequently haul four people and luggage.

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Amenities

It may not be luxurious, but the interior confines of the cabin are comfortable and workmanlike. The base XLT trim comes well-equipped with standard features, including power mirrors and windows, key-less entry, cruise control, air-conditioning and CD player. The Limited trim raises the bar slightly, though both trims still have a preponderance of plasticky, hard surfaces.

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Upgrading to the Limited adds a power driver’s seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob. The Limited trim also comes with larger 18-inch wheels, color-keyed bumpers and mirrors and external hardware, such as fog lights and side-step bars. Options include a sunroof, dual-zone climate control and a navigation system. Ford’s SYNC infotainment system is available, and constitutes the only significant change for 2010.

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In comparison to crew cab trucks, the accommodations are favorably improved in the Sport Trac with generous amounts of head and leg room for rear seated passengers. With all the seats in use, luggage room in the cabin is zero, so plan on putting bags in the rear area.

Pricing

In XLT trim, the Sport Trac starts at $27,810 and increases to $32,665 for the Limited.  With the Adrenaline exterior package (which we could take or leave) the price rises to essentially 36-grand.

Despite its shortcomings, especially gas-related, potential buyers who are debating whether to invest in another SUV may want to take a serious look at their current lifestyle and see if they may benefit from owning the 2010 Explorer Sport Trac.

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4 Responses

  1. Rick says:

    I recently retired and never owned a new vehicle. My previous employment allowed me to drive many different makes and models of cars and trucks. I always thought of the Ford Sport Trac as a women’s vehicle.
    I bought the 2010, XLT Model, V6, with everything except the rear hardtop. (I purchased one elsewhere) I have had the vehicle since September 2010, and have 24,000klms, on it. I changed the oild to synthetic after it’s original 6,000klms.
    I have nothing but praise for this vehicle. It rides and handles like any luxury vehicle in it’s class. Head room is not an issue and it is quietness and road handling is fantastic.
    I also pull a smaller trailer with 15in. wheels back and forth to the cottage, usually a 2 hour drive. I never even think about the trailer, it’s as though it isn’t even there.
    It is easy to clean the interior and it is a smart looking, sporty vehicle with great all around veiwing as you drive.
    I would recommend this vehicle to anyone.

  2. tf says:

    It looks great. It drives well. It’s a pefect cross between an average suv with a small pick-up box. I find it not fuel efficient, and a little pricey.

  3. Rick says:

    I love my Sport Trac. With the sunroof open and the rear window down
    it is almost like a convertible. Lots of room and very comfortable.
    Gas milage isn’t great, but for room and comfort and the added vision
    because you sit so high and the good sight lines I can accept the
    fuel costs.

  4. Ron says:

    Love my 2007 sport trac v8 xlt.
    Had a 2000 sport trac and also loved it but the independent suspension in the newer model is great.
    Run my tire pressures at 40 p.s.i. on my sporttrack and my wife’s freestyle. Get 26 mpg on freestyle and 22 on sporttrac.