The 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac performs respectably on- or off-road. But a thirsty engine lineup, including a noisy V-6, brings unimpressive acceleration despite good horsepower figures.
For the 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Consumer Guide reports that either a "4.0-liter V-6 or 4.6-liter V-8 engine" is available. Kelley Blue Book says that the V-6 produces "210 horsepower," while the bigger V-8 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 V-6 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 V-8's performance to be about the same or less than V-6-powered import crew cab pickups."
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 unanimously loved, with Consumer Guide claiming that "the automatic transmission is smooth" and Cars.com noting that the six-speed "automatic willingly kicked down when more power was needed" during their test. Consumer Guide adds that on the 2009 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 2009 lineup that stems from the engine options, and that is fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the Ford Explorer Sport Trac will return only 13/19 mpg with the V-6 in 4WD. The V-8 actually offers better mileage, with 15/21 mpg in the 2WD model. Consumer Guide 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 2009 finds some measure of redemption when it comes to handling and ride quality. Consumer Guide 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 2009 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 2009 Ford Sport Trac's driving experience, both on pavement and off, is exceptionally good." Even the brakes are praised on the 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, with Consumer Guide finding that "stopping control is good, though the brakes felt slightly grabby on one test example."