Much ado has been made about the 2011 Ford Explorer's shift to a car-based platform and ditching of V-8 engines, but in the media storm, one small detail has slipped largely by: the death of the Explorer Sport Trac. What is the Sport Trac, you ask? Good question.
The little-known and slow-selling Explorer Sport Trac was Ford's half-pickup, half-SUV version of the Explorer, made possible by the body-on-frame construction. It offered four-door SUV-like cabin accommodations combined with a short bed for light pickup-type functionality. Though it didn't sell much--Ford hasn't split up Explorer sales into sub-type, so we don't know precise figures--it was, at least according to J.D. Power, a very good vehicle.
The recently-released 2010 J.D. Power APEAL study, which measures owner "gratification" with their new-car purchase over the first 90 days, put the Explorer Sport Trac at the top of its class, beating out models like the Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier.
But Ford doesn't seem to be too broken up about the loss of the Sport Trac, awards or no. Instead, Ford thinks the F150 pickup, with its many crew cab variations, will fit the needs of Sport Trac buyers, and the shift to the new platform and engine combo will breathe new life into the Explorer SUV/crossover.
For more on the 2011 Ford Explorer, check out this index to High Gear Media's coverage across our entire network of sites.