2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac 4X4 (333)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the Ford Explorer Sport Trac 4X4. This is essentially an Explorer with a pickup bed rather than its SUV cousin with the cargo area inside. Size wise I see it a lot like the Ford F150 Super Crew. This Sport Trac however, has a shorter wheelbase by 13-inchs. I didn’t measure the bed of the truck but the inside legroom is almost identical between the two, so my sense is that the bed is about a foot shorter too.

The extender device used with the tailgate down gives additional length, but if your cargo is small it could be a problem because things could slip through the back that is not solidly enclosed. That of course is the limitation of its use. This Explorer will have lots of application for those who prefer a smaller pickup but also want to transport more people.

Handling & Performance:

The small size makes this a delight to run around in and also is quite responsive with the 205 horsepower V6.

Styling:

The styling is “Today” and I believe it will appeal to those active outdoors people who might be looking at the Xterra, for example. I question the addition of the rail type running board step on both of these vehicles that seem to be more of a styling statement than a useful feature of a real running board.

Fit and Finish:

For a pickup truck, likely to see extra dirty duty, this Explorer is more like a passenger car in its detailing. I have to point out that American manufacturers are simply getting better in this area. They must be acutely aware of how the Japanese have kicked our butts for years in workmanship and attention to detail. Their workers have a work ethic that is still unspoiled by success. This Ford shows that disparity between workers has changed now and we’re in another fight for our economic lives and we’ve proved that war unites us and “we’re back”. We can thank the Japanese for that wakeup call.

Conveniences:

You get all the comforts of home and this Ford left me wanting for nothing. I got a lot of use from the rear power window with three positions and it’s amazing how the little things count in making the driving experience more enjoyable.

Cost:

Sticker shock hit me right off the bat. I like to have the four doors, but I don’t want to pay for them. Does that sound familiar?

Consumer Recommendation:

I liked all the competition in this class and they are competitively priced, even if all a little too much. You should drive all three, as I did and you’ll find the one that feels best to you. It would be tough for me to choose. Brother John and I owned an auto repair shop for years and for the tough jobs around his ranch, he feels Dodge is the way to go. All things being equal, I’d have to buy American too.

The Competition:

Dodge Dakota 13,910-22,370, Nissan Frontier $11,699-24,399.

Good News:

Good size option, plenty of power, utility pickup bed for a thousand and one uses.

Bad News:

None with the exception of the poor gas consumption. I heard it said that if we got just one mpg better on our cars we wouldn’t need to use the oil reserve in Alaska. Can that be true? If you know, email me and I’ll share your comments with other readers. It’s about time we demanded better from a product that has become a necessity to us all.

Standard Equipment:

4.0 liter V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, remote power mirrors, rear split folding bench seat, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, power rear window, stereo with cassette and CD, front disc and rear drum antilock brakes, locking tailgate.

Gas Stats:

15 City and 19 Highway MPG.

Pricing

MSRP $24,435

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