Explorer Sport Trac: Nothing Else Like It
'It is all about versatility and innovation. There is nothing else like it. The new Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a sport utility vehicle for people who live the SÚV lifestyle. They like the comforts of the interior space, but there are days they wish they had more cargo room to haul a muddy mountain bike or pick up a load of top soil for the yard. But these people would never own a pickup truck - they just don't need one. Sport Trac is the perfect answer to balance the needs of these customers.'
- Jim O'Connor, President, Ford Division
Ford is introducing the first sport utility vehicle with an open cargo area for added flexibility in the type of gear and stuff it can haul.
The Ford Explorer Sport Trac is an all-new type of sport utility vehicle (SÚV), based on the best-selling Ford Explorer, which builds on Ford's tradition of tough trucks with innovations designed to delight customers.
Explorer Sport Trac combines the best features of Explorer with more cargo-carrying versatility. At the same time, Sport Trac is designed to project an adventurous image with a bold styling, inside and out, and improved ride and handling - something compact pickups with crew cab configurations cannot match.
The 2001 Explorer Sport Trac features several innovations, including:
• The first vehicle with a composite cargo area
• A cargo cage that increases cargo area length and a lockable, hard tonneau cover
• The first power rear window in a truck or SÚV
• A segment exclusive weatherproof 12-volt powerpoint in the open cargo area
• A standard center console that includes a removable soft-pack Customer-led Development
The Explorer Sport Trac is similar to the Adrenalin concept vehicle that Ford introduced in 1996. Due to the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the concept, Ford moved to bring a production version to market.
'It was such a runaway hit, we actually had to pull it off the show circuit because we were afraid the competition would see the crowds gathering around and react with a version of their own,' said O'Connor.
Sport Trac's versatility is no accident. Ford engineers spent several hundred hours with SÚV and pickup truck owners to better understand how they use the vehicles and to anticipate their future needs.
The customer research paid off, as a unique customer emerged with a set of needs not being met by anything currently on the market. A clear message came from SÚV owners, who were the most enthusiastic about the need for an added open cargo area.
'Customer input was the driver of this program,' says Steve Ross, Explorer Sport Trac chief program engineer. 'A lot of SÚV customers told us they loved the roominess, but they wanted a little more versatility to carry more stuff.' Armed with customer feedback, the development team turned to the Explorer platform as the ideal starting point. Chassis Engineered for Ride Comfort
Explorer Sport Trac is based on the four-door Explorer, with the frame lengthened 14.25 inches. Sport Trac's frame also is 40 percent laterally stiffer than Explorer's, with larger brake rotors and a specially tuned suspension. The added lateral stiffness - which makes the vehicle more agile on and off the road - was achieved through additional gussets on the vehicle's longitudinal beams, as well as a new tubular crossmember and thicker frame side rails.
Ford engineers also worked to reduce unwanted road and engine vibration from reaching occupants. This was achieved by using urethane body mounts - another Ford first on an SÚV - rather than the typical solid rubber ones.
The result is quiet, confident handling and a more balanced ride. Even with such refinement, Explorer Sport Trac's rugged SÚV roots were never compromised, making off-road travel just as confidence-inspiring.
Two different types of wheels are available on Explorer Sport Trac. A 15-inch silver-painted styled steel wheel with a new P235/75R-15 all-season Firestone radial tire specifically engineered for Explorer Sport Trac and Explorer Sport is standard on 4x2 models. On 4x4 models, an all-terrain version of this tire is standard.
An all-terrain P255/70R-16 Firestone fitted to a 16-inch bright cast aluminum, five-spoke wheel is optional on both 4x2 and 4x4 models. The Sport Trac's full-size spare tire, located under the rear of the vehicle, comes mounted on a steel wheel. Powerful Performance
Explorer Sport Trac's 4.0-liter single overhead cam (SOHC) V-6 engine has refined power for all driving conditions. Rated at 205 horsepower, the engine is designed to meet Ford's tough truck durability requirements but still be quiet and smooth enough to cruise comfortably to a concert or while towing a pair of jet skis.
Explorer Sport Trac's powertrain meets California's Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards - as do all Ford SÚVs in the Ú.S.
Explorer Sport Trac's four-wheel-drive system can be shifted while the vehicle is moving, thanks to an electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case with automatic locking hubs. Three drivetrain modes can be selected: 2WD for normal driving on clear, dry roads; 4WD HIGH, for slippery surfaces at higher speeds; and 4WD LOW for heavy snow or deep mud and when driving speeds are lower. Sporty, Functional Exterior Design
Sport Trac's exterior is clean and purposeful, yet rugged. Its aggressive 'power-dome' hood flows into a honeycomb platinum-color grille flanked by vertical air intakes. The two-tone front bumper fascia flows into new sculptured, flared front fenders.
The upper portion of the bumper is color-keyed to the sheet metal with the lower portion molded in a medium titanium accent color.
Integrated into openings in the bumpers are new optional fog lamps and a pair of black tow hooks (standard on 4x4, optional on 4x2) that add to Explorer Sport Trac's athletic appearance.
Also available as a factory-installed option are step bars that run the length of the cab. The step area of the bar is covered with a skid-resistant coating for increased safety while entering or exiting the vehicle. Aggressive-looking black roof rails are standard on Sport Trac and give the vehicle a more active appearance. When fitted with optional cross bars - available through Ford dealerships - the rack has a load capacity of 100 pounds. Cargo Capability Únmatched in a Compact SÚV
The 2001 Explorer Sport Trac is the industry's first vehicle to have an all-composite open cargo area. Made of sheet molded composite (SMC) plastic, the open cargo area will never rust and can handle whatever owners throw in it or at it. It even survived Ford's own 'Rock, Rake and Weight tests.'
Sport Trac is designed to be just as comfortable carrying groceries and six sets of golf clubs in its composite open cargo area as it is hauling mountain bikes or 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood for weekend do-it-yourselfers.
The innovative cargo area provides 29.6 cubic feet of space and is 20 percent lighter than a steel box, which helps ride and handling and fuel economy. Located in the cargo area is a 12-volt powerpoint that allows customers to power such items as power tools, electric refrigerators or mobile telephones from the rear of the vehicle - ideal for those using Explorer Sport Trac for camping and other outdoor activities. Ten cargo hooks - six on the outside rail and four on the inside of the cargo area - help keep goods in place.
Also available are a lockable two-piece hard tonneau cover, cargo area divider and stainless steel cargo cage.
The tonneau cover folds from the front or the rear, allowing customers to access cargo from the front or rear. The cover protects cargo from weather and locks to keep valuables safe and secure.
An industry-leading innovation is Explorer Sport Trac's tubular stainless steel 'cargo cage,' which adds more versatility to the cargo area.
The cargo cage provides 22.6 inches of added cargo room by allowing cargo to be secured with the tailgate lowered. The cargo cage locks in place on the open tailgate providing a lateral and longitudinal barrier.
When rotated and stored into the cargo area, the cargo cage also provides a divider of the cargo area to control movement of small items stored in the cargo area.
Cargo also can be managed through the use of a plastic divider, an accessory available from Ford dealers. The divider has latch pins that pop into holes in the cargo area, dividing the cargo area into two compartments. Spacious, Innovative Interior
Explorer Sport Trac offers a dynamic interior, not just in appearance but in the quality of materials used and the overall attention to detail.
Versatility is the key to the interior design of Explorer Sport Trac. The flooring is made of a washable, textured composite rubber, covered with Berber carpet floor mats. In addition to supporting an active lifestyle, the composite flooring also reduces cabin noise.
Seating is designed to comfortably accommodate five adults. Úp front, new bucket seats, which are more rugged, durable and easy to clean, were created specifically for Explorer Sport Trac.
The instrument panel takes on a bold new look, with white gauge faces and titanium accents on the instrument panel and door handles.
For the active lifestyles of Explorer Sport Trac buyers, a removable soft pack bag is stowed under the hinged center armrest. The bag can be slung on the shoulder to carry snacks, CDs or bottled water. When stored in the vehicle, the bag serves as the storage area of the center floor console.
Standard on Explorer Sport Trac is an AM/FM stereo with a single CD player and four premium speakers.
An 80-watt AM/FM stereo with a six-disc, in-dash CD player is available (a new Pioneer? 290-watt AM/FM stereo will be available in fall 2000). When the Leather Comfort Group is ordered, rear seat occupants receive a console with independent climate and audio controls, two headphone jacks and two cupholders. A control knob for the standard power rear window - another industry first - is located on the instrument panel. The window is one-touch up and down, and features an anti-pinch sensor. Comprehensive Safety and Security
Like all Ford vehicles, safety on the Explorer Sport Trac was a priority throughout its development.
Extensive computer modeling was used to support the overall design of the vehicle for crash safety.
Structural 'crumple zones' are designed to help protect the passenger compartment during a frontal crash, while side door beams help protect occupants in certain side impacts.
In addition to the vehicle's inherent safety qualities, features include height-adjustable, load-limiting shoulder belts for both the driver and passenger seating positions. The height-adjuster allows occupants of different heights to position the belt in the most comfortable position.
The load-limiting feature incorporates an energy management system that reduces deceleration forces on an occupant during a frontal crash. Front-seat occupants are further protected with Second _Generation dual air bags. Standard anti-lock brakes (ABS) further enhance safety by providing the driver with an improved sense of control.
All Explorer Sport Tracs also come equipped with Ford's Belt-Minder? system, designed to remind drivers to buckle up. Child safety seat tether anchors are provided at all three locations in the rear seat.
Explorer Sport Trac also features SecuriLockTM, a passive anti-theft system that prevents the vehicle from being started unless a special ignition key containing an embedded transponder with the proper code is inserted in the ignition. Continuing to Lead the SÚV Market
Explorer Sport Trac is the logical evolution of Ford's dominance in sport utility vehicles.
Sport Trac's blend of utility and versatility, with style and technology, is designed to appeal to a customer with a unique set of vehicle needs:
Those that like the comfort, safety, and image of sport utility vehicles
Customers who want a vehicle with styling that turns heads
People who need a vehicle with true off-road capability and room to seat five adults
Those hauling dirty gear such as wood, gardening supplies, trees, shrubs or fishing gear, who don't like messing up their carpeted SÚV Manufacturing
Explorer Sport Trac is built at Ford's Louisville, Ky., assembly plant - along with the 4-door Explorer and 2-door Explorer Sport. Sport Trac goes on sale in late January 2000.Source - Ford