Staffer Dave Newhardt was not to be outdone by the Chief, so he elected to move, as well. But instead of picking a luxury sedan, he chose the Sport Trac. Good move, although the mini-bed won't haul as much as a long-wheelbase Super Duty will. The rear-seat area was a far safer place for Dave's camera gear, guitars, and original jazz vinyl. A few wished for the ultimate flexibility of a fold-downable mid-gate like the upcoming Avalanche will have, but that much reengineering of the Explorer platform would've cost a lot and kept the Sport Trac from coming to market for a year or two. The frame seems to have a little chassis flex, and the suspension is definitely configured to maximize ride quality.

We checked this car's Firestone Wilderness tires and, no, they were not part of the recall. Founding Editor Walt Woron also spent time behind the wheel of the Sport Trac for an upcoming retrospective on early pickups and SUVs. Mechanical woes? Zip.