Ford’s pair of Explorer Sports, the bobtail pickup Sport Trac and the handy 2 door Sport, share the previous generation Explorer’s chassis with its narrow engine bay and leaf spring live axle rear suspension. While not as refined as the current Explorer’s IRS and modular engine platform, the Sport’s chassis is really rugged Ranger pickup’s in disguise, and both Sports are excellent off-roaders as a result. Both trucks use Ford’s well-developed 4.0 liter V6 rated at 210 bhp at 5200 rpm and 240lb.-ft. of torque at 3000 rpm, give or take a couple of horse power. A 5-speed manual or optional 5-speed automatic transmission is fitted; 4-wheel-drive models offer an electronic shift-on-the-fly 2-speed transfer case. Front suspensions are independent unequal length control arms coupled with power assisted rack and pinion steering. Braking is via 12.0-in. rear drums with ABS. Maximum towing capacity is rated at 5300lb. and 5120lb. for 2wd automatic Sport Tracs and Sports, respectively. The big difference, of course, is the bodystyles. After some thought about how a sport utility vehicle is used, the Sport Trac’s design makes sense. The advantages of an SUV friendly to people and cargo that is either dirty or is conveniently loaded and unloaded are vast.
The open cargo box is made entirely from rustproof, scratch resistant and 20 percent lighter than steel Sheet Molded Composite (SMC). And for these questioning the short truck bed, there is an optional stainless steel swing over tubular extender to increase the bed length to more than 6ft. inside the 5 passenger cabin, standard equipment on the Sport Trac includes cloth seat with a 60/40- split rear bench, AM/FM stereo/cassette/CD player and a floor center console featuring two large front and two rear cupholders incorporated into a hinged armrest with storage underneath.