- Tough, rust-proof bed
- Almost full-size towing ability
- SYNC interface
- Outdated interior
- V-6 gets worse mileage than V-8
- Engine noise (V-6)
If you're torn between an SUV and a pickup and cutting-edge styling isn't important, the 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac might be the answer.
At first sight, the new 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac can be a bit of a mystery. Is it an SUV with a pickup bed or a pickup with an especially large cab?
Technically, it is an SUV (Ford lists it as such on its Web site), but it does deliver the best of both worlds. Although based on the Explorer—and with no real styling surprises inside or out—it's actually 17 inches longer; the passenger compartment is nearly identical to that of the Explorer, but the rear cargo area of the Explorer is replaced with a 4.5-foot cargo bed made from a dent-proof and rust-proof plastic compound. The interior has a similar look and feel to the Ford Explorer, which isn’t a bad thing.
Overall, the Sport Trac changes very little for 2010, save for some minor modifications. The standard drivetrain for the 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a 210-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic, but there's an optional 292 -horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 matched with a six-speed automatic transmission available. There's a choice of the standard rear-wheel drive or Ford's ControlTrac four-wheel drive if you want extra traction. Unlike an AWD system, ControlTrac is a true 4WD system, with a two-speed transfer case that features a low range just in case the Sport Trac heads off-road. The design is inherently useful for hauling, and with the optional V-8, the Explorer Sport Trac can tow more than 7,160 pounds.
Considering that the 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a mid-size SUV/pickup with truck roots, it drives pretty much as you might expect from such a vehicle. You won't find ride quality particularly pleasant, and the SportTrac doesn't handle especially well on curvy roads, squealing the tires around moderately sharp corners, especially on rough surfaces. But it should be fine for most everyday needs. Between the standard V-6 and optional V-8, we would almost unconditionally recommend the V-8; although the V-6 has enough power for a light load, it can get noisy and coarse when loaded, and surprisingly the V-8 rear-wheel-drive Explorer Sport Trac is more fuel-efficient.
The cabin of the 2010 Explorer Sport Trac is spacious and quite comfortable; five will fit, if three are willing to be elbow-to-elbow in back. The quality of the interior, including materials and fit/finish, is acceptable but not up to the level of some of Ford's newer products that are focused at passengers, like the Edge and Flex crossovers.
The Sport Trac has performed quite well in government crash tests, indicating that it's a safe vehicle to be in if you're in a collision. Keep in mind, however, that the federal government has given the rear-wheel-drive version of the Sport Trac only three stars in its rollover rating, which means it's more likely to roll if tripped in an accident. Aiding security is Trailer Sway Control, which helps warn the driver of instability when towing and keep the trailer in line.
The Explorer Sport Trac comes very well equipped compared to compact pickup trucks. Standard features, even on the base XLT, include full power accessories, cruise control, air conditioning, and Sirius Satellite Radio. The Limited loads the Sport Trac with such things as fancier wheels, heated leather seats, an upgraded center console, and Ford's SYNC entertainment/navigation system. Adrenalin models add a more aggressive appearance to the Limited's equipment, including 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual exhaust tips, black fascias, and monotone perforated leather seats. A moonroof, a premium sound system with subwoofer and six-disc changer, and a next-generation voice-activated navigation system from Sirius Travel Link are among the most desirable options.