How many trucks is too many? By the end of this year, Ford’s going to have seven sport-utility vehicles in its family. Think about it: the Waltons had the same number of kids.
Of the seven, two are brand new to the fold for this year — or the 2001 model year, however you measure. One of those is the new 2001 Explorer Sport Trac; another is the redesigned 2001 two-door Ford Explorer Sport. These vehicles will be at the dealerships in late January.
The Sport Trac starts at $23,050 (for two-wheel drive) and $25,820 (for four-wheel drive). The Sport will start at $22,225 (for two-wheel drive) to $25,245 (for four-wheel drive). All prices include destination and delivery charges.
The "and" vehicle
Ford executives say that with the Explorer Sport Trac they were looking for an "and" vehicle — one that could do everything a sport-utility vehicle could do and more. It combines the interior space of a sport-utility vehicle, specifically the Explorer, with an open cargo area from a pickup truck. (Ford has done the same thing in jumbo size with its new F-150 SuperCrew, which adds a pickup truck bed to a larger sport-utility cabin from the Expedition.)
For the Explorer Sport Trac, Ford engineers took the four-door Explorer and lengthened the frame 14.25 inches. The Sport Trac's frame is 40 percent laterally stiffer, which engineers say makes the vehicle more agile on and off-road.
The engine is a 4.0-liter single overhead cam V-6, which is rated at 205 hp at 5250 rpm and 240 lb-ft of torque at 3750 rpm. The Sport Trac has a five-speed automatic transmission, and a five-speed manual transmission will be offered in the fall. There is rack-and-pinion steering, which is somewhat unusual for a truck.
The Sport Trac's part-time four-wheel drive system can be shifted while the vehicle is moving. Drivers can select from two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive high and four-wheel drive low.