Shopping for a new Ford Explorer Sport Trac?
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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
Ideal ride and handling balance
Automatic transmission is smooth, but can be slow to kick down
Consumes regular unleaded gasoline at the prodigious rate of 14 miles per gallon in the city
The Detroit News
The 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac wasn't built as a performance machine, but it handles surprisingly well. Unfortunately, both engines are thirsty and offer unremarkable acceleration.
For the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, ConsumerGuide writes that either a "4.0-liter V6 or 4.6-liter V8 engine" is available. Kelley Blue Book says that the V-6 produces "210 horsepower," while the bigger V8 makes "292 horsepower." Neither engine scores particularly well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, and Cars.com claims that the "V-8's acceleration is merely adequate." On the positive side, Kelley Blue Book adds "most drivers will probably find the 4.0-liter V6 more than adequate for most of their driving, with 254 pound-feet of torque and plenty of acceleration to keep up with any likely traffic situation." Going back to the V-8 on the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Edmunds comes down hard, saying, "testing revealed the V8's performance to be about the same or less than V6-powered import crew cab pickups."
Two different engine choices deserve two different transmissions, and the Ford Explorer Sport Trac 2008 dutifully offers up a pair of transmissions for prospective buyers. Edmunds says that the V-6 is "mated to a five-speed automatic transmission," while the V-8 links to "a six-speed automatic." The transmission in particular is one feature that reviewers love, with ConsumerGuide claiming that "the automatic transmission is smooth" and Cars.com writing that the six-speed "automatic willingly kicked down when more power was needed" during their test. ConsumerGuide adds that on the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac trims, both are available "with rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive that can be left engaged on dry pavement."
Unfortunately, there is one very significant knock against the Ford Explorer Sport Trac 2008 lineup that stems from the engine options, and that is fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the Ford Explorer Sport Trac will return 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway in 2WD form with the V-6, and 13/19 mpg with the V-6 in 4WD. The V-8 offers nearly identical ratings, with 13/20 mpg in 2WD mode and 13/19 mpg in 4WD mode. ConsumerGuide testers characterize the Ford Explorer Sport Trac's fuel economy as "dismal, even among pickup trucks," since their test Sport Tracs "averaged just 12.4-13.5 mpg."
Despite the drawbacks in terms of fuel economy, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac 2008 finds some measure of redemption when it comes to handling and ride quality. ConsumerGuide is the first to laud the Ford Explorer Sport Trac for its "fine ride control" that "bests all rival pickups except the Honda Ridgeline." Edmunds adds the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac features "admirable road isolation and a surprisingly responsive steering system" that makes the Ford Explorer Sport Trac "a pleasure to drive and ride in." Kelley Blue Book chimes in by noting "the 2008 Ford Sport Trac's driving experience, both on pavement and off, is exceptionally good." Even the brakes are praised on the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, with ConsumerGuide finding that "stopping control is good, though the brakes felt slightly grabby on one test example."
It may not get up and go with the best performers in the category, but the 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac handles well.