2000-2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Timeline
Ford's Unique Midsize Variant Misses the Crew Cab Boat
The Chevrolet Avalanche was the only SUV/pickup hybrid created in the early 2000s. Although less daring than the Avalanche, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac was still a ground-breaking vehicle, if not super-popular vehicle. Though it came at the beginning of the four-door midsize truck trend, it was never able to capitalize on that momentum. First previewed in 1996 as the Adrenalin concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the production model was announced in August 1999 and went on sale as a 2001 model.
Sales figures on the Sport Trac were not broken out separately from overall Explorer sales, but estimates put the Sport Trac's share at between 20-25 percent of the Explorer total. Like the Avalanche, an all-new model was introduced for 2007, but the sales trends had already shifted to proper four-doors for trucks and car-based crossovers for SUVs, leaving it a niche vehicle at best. A 390-hp supercharged V-8 Adrenalin concept was revealed at the 2005 New York Auto Show in the hopes of re-kindling consumers' interest in the unique SUV/pickup hybrid model, but the high-performance variant never made it to production.
The end for the Sport Trac came when Ford switched the Explorer from a body-on-frame platform to a unibody one. Production ended in 2010, though leftover models continued to be sold into calendar 2011..
1996: Adrenalin four-door midsize pickup concept shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January. Public and media reaction was overwhelmingly favorable, prompting Ford to look at volume production for a similar model.
1999: Ford announces the 2001 Explorer Sport Trac in August. Ford says it's "certain to appeal to outdoor sports enthusiasts, do-it-yourselfers, and adventure seekers."
2000: The Explorer Sport Trac goes on sale in January 2000 as a 2001 model. Based on the popular Explorer midsize SUV, the Sport Trac had several innovative features including the industry's first vehicle with a composite cargo area, first power rear window in a truck or SUV, and a 12-volt power outlet in the cargo area. The Explorer's frame was stretched 14.25 inches, and the Sport Trac was fitted with larger brakes and a specially-tuned suspension. The 210-hp SOHC 4.0L Cologne V-6 was standard, available with a five-speed automatic or manual transmission.
2001: First full model year of the Sport Trac. Silver Frost Metallic was added, and Mandarin Gold was dropped as a color option. Transfer case skid plates were made standard on 4x4 models, as were 16-inch alloy wheels. A CD/cassette combo audio head unit replaced the single-slot CD player.
2002: The options and configurations are simplified for 2002, reducing the number of possible combinations from 400 to 112. Zinc Yellow, Silver Birch Metallic, True Blue Metallic, and Aspen Green are added to the color palette. Automatic headlights are made optional and the fuel capacity increases from 20.5 to 23 gallons. The formerly-optional Payload Package, which raised payload capacity to 1500 lb for 4x2 models and 1460 lb for 4x4 models was made standard.
2003: Three trim levels are offered for the 2003 Sport Trac: XLS, XLT and XLT Premium. Rear disc brakes are made standard. The interior gets a freshening with new door trim, interior colors, and height-adjustable seatbelts. Ford's Safety Canopy side curtain air bag system is a new option. New limited-edition Adrenalin trim level added a 485-watt Pioneer sound system with an 8-inch subwoofer. The Adrenalin could be distinguished on the outside by its unique 5-spoke "thumbprint" 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, and tow hooks.
2004: The manual transmission option is dropped, making the 4.0 V-6 and 5-speed automatic the only powertrain configuration. The XLT gets more standard equipment in the form of power mirrors, keyless entry, tilt steering wheel, and cruise control. XLT Premium gets a new monochromatic color scheme with color-keyed bumpers, fascia, moldings and step bars. The engine gets flex-fuel capability, allowing it to run on E85. The Adrenalin's audio system gets a power bump to 510 watts. Competition Orange, Pueblo Gold, and Dark Blue Pearl are added to the color lineup.
2005: A moonroof is now an option on the XLT, Sirius satellite radio is made optional on all models, and Bright Red and Dark Stone are added to the paint options. The 390-hp supercharged V-8 Adrenalin concept was shown in 2005 at the New York Auto Show and initially announced as a high-performance variant that would go into production in 2007 as part of the all-new Sport Trac lineup. The supercharged engine never made it to production, but the next-generation Sport Trac did offer an optional V-8, and the Adrenalin concept's lines were a fairly close representation of the new model's styling.
2006: There is no official 2006 model year Sport Trac, but the all-new 2007 model, based on the new 2006 Explorer, goes into production in Spring 2006.
2007: First model year of the all-new Sport Trac. Featuring an optional 292-hp three-valve 4.6-liter V-8, six-speed automatic, and independent rear suspension, the 2007 was the most sophisticated and powerful Sport Trac to date. The new frame is 444 percent stiffer than the outgoing model's, and with the independent rear suspension, brought an unprecedented level of comfort and sophistication to the midsize segment. Two-tone leather seating surfaces, a rubberized floor coating, and an internally heated windshield were among the noteworthy features. Equipped with the V-8, the Sport Trac could tow up to 6800 lb.
2008: Sync makes its debut on the Sport Trac along with voice control for the optional navigation system. A drop-in center console storage bin with a power point, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the Safety Canopy side air bag system is made standard along with fog lights. Stone Green Metallic, Vapor Silver Metallic, and White Suede are new paint options.
2009: Trailer sway control is now standard and the navigation system adds Sirius Travel Link.
2010: No major changes in what would be the last model year for the Sport Trac. The Explorer SUV moves to a unibody platform related to the Taurus, with production moving from Louisville, Kentucky to Chicago. By 2010, overall Explorer sales are a fraction of what they were in the early 2000s, and with Sport Trac's reportedly proportional 20 to 25 percent share declining with it, the decision was made not to continue the Sport Trac. Ford's Louisville assembly plant now produces the 2013 Ford Escape.