2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 23, 2008

The 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac offers good versatility in an unremarkable package.

The car experts at TheCarConnection.com consulted road tests from across the Web to write this conclusive review of the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac. This profile of the 2008 Explorer Sport Trac also compares it with similar vehicles to give you the unbiased advice you need when shopping.

When you look at the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, what you see is part Ford Explorer SUV and part pickup truck. And what you see is what you get. The Sport Trac is about 17 inches longer than the SUV on which it's based. Behind the five-passenger interior is a 4.5-foot cargo bed made from rust- and dent-proof plastic (technically, it's called sheet molded compound, or SMC). The deep plastic bed features three enclosed storage bins, a standard 12-volt outlet, and an optional cover and tubular bed extender. Based on this alone, the Sport Trac is certainly useful for hauling things around, and with the optional V-8, it can tow more than 6,600 pounds.

The 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac features a standard 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6, while an available 4.6-liter V-8 powerplant provides 292 horsepower and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 gets a five-speed automatic. There's a choice of two-wheel drive or Ford's ControlTrac four-wheel drive if you want extra traction. ControlTrac offers a two-speed transfer case with a low range just in case the Sport Trac heads off-road.

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The 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac drives like what it is: a fairly large but not quite full-size truck. The Sport Trac is neither fast nor nimble, but then it doesn't look much like a sportscar, does it? Acceleration even with the optional V-8 engine isn't stellar; the coarse sound of the V-6 is noticeable, and the engine has to work pretty hard to keep the 4,600-pound truck moving. Wind and road noise levels are acceptable, but not particularly low.

Inside, the look is similar to the Ford Explorer, which isn't bad. However, TheCarConnection.com team thinks it's about time that Ford get a new corporate radio designed. Some drivers also complained about the door handles and the lack of a grab space making it hard to close the heavy doors. (This is something you'll want to consider if you go for a test drive.) The quality of the interior, including materials and fit/finish, is passable.

The Sport Trac was completely reengineered and redesigned in 2007, so 2008 is what marketing types call a carryover year. In other words, there's not much new compared to 2007. But for Ford, 2008 is the year the Sport Trac gets an extra helping of electronics. Voice activation is now available for the optional navigation system. Ford's SYNC hands-free in-car communications and entertainment system is also optional.

Ford bolstered the 2008 Sport Trac's standard feature list with side curtain airbags. These now supplement the standard front and side airbags. A very effective stability control system with an anti-roll program is also standard. The Sport Trac performed well in government crash tests.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com aren't too fond of the aging twins from General Motors, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Their five-cylinder engines never had the power or refinement to endear themselves to our experts. The Dodge Dakota is much improved for 2008, and its longer traditional steel bed might be an advantage for some buyers.

Honda's Ridgeline is an interesting alternative, as it's a toughened car-based crossover. The Ridgeline drives better than the Sport Trac, but lacks the Ford's heavy-duty capabilities in terms of hauling, towing, and off-road capabilities.

The Nissan and Toyota mid-size trucks are not earth-shattering in terms of performance or versatility, but they are worth a look, as they provide nearly even competition to the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac in most every area of consideration.

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