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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Overview

A Little Bit of All You Need

Fords Explorer Sport Trac is part pickup, part SUV, part off-road adventurer and part plush highway cruiser. With this all-in-one vehicle, you also get a tremendous amount of content for the rather reasonable starting price of just $23,690.

If you are not familiar with the Sport Trac, it is built on the old Explorer platform and maintains that vehicles interior, engine/transmission layout and body from the C-pillar forward. To this, Ford has attached a four-foot long pickup bed that can be ordered with a hard plastic cover, a foldout tubular bed extender and a rugged bed liner. This versatile setup allows you to carry a full complement of passengers as well as a boatload of gear and off-road toys.

Trim levels have been increased to four this year, and include: XLS, XLT, XLT Premium and Adrenaline. The base XLS comes standard with power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, split-bench rear seat, cloth bucket seats, anti-lock brakes, full gauges and aluminum wheels. The XLT goes further with a leather-wrapped tilt-steering wheel, cruise control and power mirrors. The Premium and Adrenaline trims include a number of pre-packaged options, the most notable of which is the 510-watt Pioneer audio system with MP3 playback capability that comes standard on the Adrenaline model.

The Sport Trac is powered by its rear wheels and offers the option of part-time four-wheel drive. The Sport Tracs four-wheel drive is a basic shift-on-the-fly system, meaning you can engage the four-high or four-low gears by simply pushing a button. You should note that this system is meant only for off-road or use in heavy snow at low speeds; it is not a full-time all-wheel drive system that can be employed during normal driving conditions.

If you opt for the two-wheel drive model, we strongly recommend you get one with a limited-slip rear differential. This option adds only a few hundred dollars to the sticker, but is well worth the added traction it provides in mud and snow.

Powering the Sport Tracs wheels is Fords venerable 4.0-liter V6, now rated at 210 horsepower and 240 lb-ft. of torque. Mated to a new five-speed automatic, the Sport Tracs V6 feels strong, though you will notice that it does have to work hard to get the vehicle up to highway speed. Compared to newer rivals such as GMs I6 or Nissans supercharged V6, Fords 4.0-liter doesnt seem to have that extra oomph you expect when you floor the accelerator. On the other hand, the Sport Tracs V6 does offer a healthy dose of torque, which to pickup owners is far more important than flat-out speed. The Sport Trac, when properly equipped, can tow up to 5300-pounds.

Climb inside the Sport Trac and youll find the real advantage of owning this, err, SUV/Truck. The interior, especially on the top models, is really gorgeous. Optional leather seating and aluminum painted accent pieces give the cabin a lavish yet open feeling; you can further expand upon this feeling by ordering the power glass sunroof and power-sliding rear window. Rear-seat passengers will like their accommodation because unlike many compact crew cab trucks, the Sport Tracs rear seat does not force you to sit bolt upright at a 90-degree angle. The rear seating area also features head restraints for all three passengers and an optional ceiling-mounted DVD entertainment system.

Up front, the driver is greeted by a freshened dash and steering wheel design. Some models feature steering-wheel-mounted buttons to control the cruise and audio, but even if you have to reach to adjust the volume or cabin temperature, your hand will not have far to go. Youll find ample leg, hip and headroom in the Sport Trac, though some may find the large center console and transmission hump creates a somewhat narrow foot well for the driver and passenger. XLT Premium and Adrenalin models equipped with leather seats also come standard with power lumbar for both driver and passenger and heated seat bottoms.

On the road, youll find the Sport Trac behaves well so long as you respect its truck-based suspension. The steering is nicely weighted and delivers good feedback to the driver, allowing you to negotiate corners at reasonable speeds with complete confidence. The Sport Tracs suspension, though designed for rugged off-road adventuring, provides a rather smooth ride while simultaneously managing to minimize body lean and roll.

Overall, the Sport Trac is a great vehicle for budget-minded buyers who need complete flexibility in their daily driver.

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