Compact pickup truck; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $13,500 – $26,000*


2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac


2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac


2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V8)
  • Versatility
  • Ride comfort
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Steering/handling

Redesigning for 2007 put the Sport Trac in step with its parent SUV for performance and refinement, plus key safety features such as the standard antiskid system and available curtain side airbags. Fuel economy with the V8 is a big negative factor. Sport Trac is also more “trucky” than the Honda Ridgeline, but this “Explorer pickup” deserves a look if you seek a truck’s utility but don’t want-or need-a traditional full-size model.

Overview

Ford’s combination of crew-cab pickup truck and SUV was redesigned for 2007, adding safety features, available V8 power, and an independent rear suspension. Like the 2001-05 Sport Trac, it was based on Ford’s Explorer sport-utility vehicle but added a 4×5-foot open cargo bed at the rear. Wheelbase grew by 5 inches versus the previous Sport Trac, and was 16 inches longer than Explorer’s. Sport Tracs seated five, and offered a power rear window. The cargo box, now made of dent-resistant composites, had three in-floor covered bins with drain plugs. Unlike the midsize Explorer SUV, the Sport Trac qualified as a compact vehicle.

Like Honda’s Ridgeline, Sport Trac had an independent rear suspension designed to provide a more car-like ride than the solid rear axle common to pickups. XLT and uplevel Limited models were offered. A 210-horsepower V6 was standard. A V8 was optional for the first time; it generated 292 horsepower. Both engines teamed with automatic transmissions: a five-speed for the V6, and a six-speed for the V8.

Sport Tracs came with rear-wheel drive or Ford’s Control Trac four-wheel drive, which could be left engaged on dry pavement and included low-range gearing. Antilock braking and antiskid control with rollover sensors were standard. So were front side airbags. Curtain side airbags that covered both seating rows were optional, and included rollover deployment. Other options included a heated windshield, rigid bed cover, frame bed extender, DVD entertainment, and rear obstacle detection.

Except for the Chevrolet Avalanche and Honda Ridgeline, Ford’s Sport Trac had little direct competition. Conventional-pickup rivals may include the Dodge Dakota and Toyota Tacoma.

Yearly Updates

2008 Explorer Sport Trac
Several new features became available for 2008, including voice control for the optional navigation system. Ford’s new Sync system, which allowed voice control for cell phones and MP3 players, also joined the option list.
2009 Explorer Sport Trac
The 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac was largely unchanged.
2010
The 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac was largely unchanged for what was its final model year.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Explorer Sport Tracs come with two powertrains. The 4.0-liter V6 mates with a five-speed automatic, while the 4.6-liter V8 gets a six-speed automatic transmission. Sport Tracs may have rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.

ohc V61
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/245
Engine HP 210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 254
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

14/20

ohc V81
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 292
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

13/20

12.9

1. EPA Note: Figures shown are for 2008 models with 2WD. The Environmental Protection Agency changed its procedure for 2008 to yield more realistic estimates. Therefore, estimated mileage is lower than for prior years.

Road Test

Only the 4WD Limited V8 has been tested, and it’s a lively truck. Sport Tracs weigh a bit less than comparable Explorer SUVs, so expect under 7.5-second acceleration to 60 mph with the V8. The automatic transmission is smooth, but can be slow to kick down at midrange passing speeds. Towing capacity is 5260 pounds with the V6, 7160 pounds with the V8.

Fuel economy must be called dismal, even among pickup trucks. Test V8 4WD Limiteds averaged just 12.4 to 13.5 mpg. Both engines use regular-grade fuel.

Ride quality mimics the Explorer wagon’s fine, truck-type SUV comfort, and bests all rival pickups except for Honda’s Ridgeline. Solid structure enhances the ride even with the Limited’s 18-inch tires (XLTs use 16s or 17s). The rear end resists hop over sharp bumps, even unloaded.

Steering and handling again mimic its SUV parent, but a longer wheelbase makes Sport Trac slightly less maneuverable in close quarters. Cornering lean is moderate. Steering is a bit slow and numb. Stopping power is good, though brakes felt slightly grabby on one test example.

Sport Trac ranks a close second to Ridgeline for overall compact-pickup refinement. Wind noise is low up to 70 mph, but coarse-surface tire thrum occurs at most any speed. The V8 roars at full throttle, but quiets down nicely for cruising.

Most interior features come from the Explorer SUV, including the basic dashboard with its clear gauges and mostly convenient controls. Two exceptions: the transmission shift lever blocks easy access to the climate system and the turn-signal stalk is mounted at an awkward angle. The optional navigation system, also shared with Ford SUVs, is easy enough to use but needs a larger screen. One test Limited’s cabin had a classy, durable decor, but also a few rough edges and few soft-touch surfaces.

Slightly shorter seat tracks give a bit less front legroom than an Explorer SUV’s, but most occupants won’t complain about any shortage of space. Seats are comfortable, though cushions are a bit short in the thigh. Visibility is good despite somewhat thick rear-roof posts. Step-in is fairly lofty, but manageable, though running boards hinder as much as help.

Ford said rear-seat space equaled that of an Explorer SUV, but Sport Trac feels a bit tighter for foot- and headroom. Three medium-sized adults can ride with little cramping, but the uninviting bench seat is low to the floor, flat, and not well padded. Entry/exit is passable, but no easier than in the SUV despite Sport Trac’s longer rear doors.

Because the Sport Trac’s bed floor is rather high, loading of heavy cargo can turn into a chore. The tailgate locks. So do covered floor storage wells, but these are a stretch to reach from outside-and two are just six-pack size. The spare tire stows in its own compartment. Ford claimed 37.5 cubic feet beneath the heavy optional bed cover, which folds in half but needs two people to remove or replace. Plastic-like construction implies good cargo-box durability. External tie-down cleats are handy. Rear seatbacks fold flat for great in-cab cargo room, but don’t flip up. Small-item storage is adequate but no more.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Explorer Sport Trac 4WD Ltd. V8

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 52

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
130.5 210.2 73.7 72.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
1450 22.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 38.5 42.4 36.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Explorer Sport Trac 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: When coming to a slow stop, the 6R60 automatic transmission may cause a bump and when accelerating may hesitate or may hesitate when shifted into gear requiring deletion of the transmission control module learned info and then relearning it. (2007-08)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak from rear axle unitized cartridge in extreme cold weather requiring seal replacement. (2006-08)
Audio system
Description: The CDs may shuffle unexpectedly on vehicles that do not also have the navigation system, requiring reflashing the audio system. (2008-10)
Wheels
Description: The clear coat on 20-inch wheels peels near the center hub due to galvanic reaction to center chrome disc which must be replaced. (2008-10)
Electrical problem
Description: Buzzing noise from under right side of dashboard caused by loose PCM (computer) bracket. (207-08)
Electrical problem
Description: There may be excessive background noise during phone calls and/or problems with voice recognition while using the SYNC system requiring software improvements and a new microphone in the headliner. (2008-10)
None
Description: When refueling, the nozzle may repeatedly click off or filling will slow down, especially in freezing weather, due to a problem with the fuel tank vent tube. (2006-08)
Transmission problems
Description: Hesitation when accelerating from a stop and a harsh bump when coming to a stop require reprogramming both the powertrain computer and the transmission control module on vehicles with the 6R60 transmission (2006-08)

Recall History

2008 with 4.6-liter V8 engine and 6R transmission
Description: A loose bolt may cause the transmission oil cooler line to leak. If leaking transmission fluid contacts the catalytic converter, it increases risk of fire. Dealers will inspect and have the transmission cooler line attachment bolt tightened.
2010 vehicles manufactured between December 15, 2009 and February 3, 2010 equipped with front seat manual recliners
Description: The recliner gear plate teeth may be out of dimension specification, which could result in limited pawl to gear plate tooth engagement. In the event of a crash, the seatback and head restraint may move rearward, increasing the risk of injury. Dealers will replace the manual recliners for both power and manual seats free of charge.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.