The 2008 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin Paved the Way for the Sport Utility Truck
Introduced in 2001, the Explorer Sport Trac pickup paved the way for a new segment of vehicles—the sport utility truck. Ford describes their SUT as “the best of both worlds” taking attributes from both the F-150 pickup and the Explorer SUV.
Available only as a 5-passenger, 4-door crew cab pickup, the Sport Trac comes in two main trims: the XLT or Limited, with a standard 210-hp 4.0L V6 with 5-speed automatic, or an optional 292-hp 4.6L V8 with 6-speed automatic transmission.
But if these two offerings don’t fit the bill, check out the Adrenalin package—essentially the Limited series that has undergone a major cosmetic facelift with a beefier and much sportier persona. Additions including 20” polished aluminum wheels with P255/50R20 Pirelli tires; new tailgate and floor mats both with Adrenalin logo; body-coloured side mirrors; dual-tip exhaust; and a reworked front grill in a black gloss, to name a few.
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Two weeks with my tester, I enjoyed every minute. Thought I came across many Sport Trac pickups on the road, none of them in the Adrenalin form available at a $42,499 base price, I found myself asking: who is Ford targeting here?
Would the potential Sport Trac consumer be willing to fork out the extra cash for an AWD (rear-wheel is standard, all-wheel is optional and equipped on my tester) with no additional towing capacity or increased performance? And if Ford is targeting the weekend-warrior who dig the cosmetic upgrades and AWD, would these metro-sexuals be willing to trade in their sports coupes or Land Rovers for a pickup, or perhaps choose the Explorer SUV all together?
Regardless what group Ford is targeting, and whether you pluck your eyebrows or just like hauling stuff around for fun, the Sport Trac Adrenalin is a well-styled, performance-driven, utility focused pickup that offers comfort and luxury.
For 2008, the Sport Trac finds more standard features including: a power rear window; fog lamps; leather wrapped steering wheel; increased storage; side-curtain driver/passenger airbags; and side step bars.
The overall styling is rugged and aggressive yet sleek and sporty. Though not as futuristic and bubbly as the Adrenalin-concept vehicle unveiled at the 2005 New York Auto Show, the common-folk production version is just as dramatic—huge, beefy front end with a gloss black grill and colour-matched hatching inside; side vents that serve no functional purpose but look cool; rolled-out fenders that provide a wider, meaner stance whilst housing 20” in-your-face wheels.
Lowered fascias, chucky running boards, and restyled body panels provide the Adrenalin with a low sitting, cruiser appearance.
The Sport Trac borrows the independent suspension from the Explorer so the ride is smooth. Steering is responsive while the low-profile tires add to greater handling. Power hydraulic 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard on all three trims. But leave the rock-climbing to your other truck; the Adrenalin is meant for the streets only.
The 4.5-foot cargo box is lined with a composite corrosion-proof lining providing greater durability while three integrated cargo bins are recessed into the bed of the truck for additional storage. With the tailgate down, a bed extender cage provides an extra 170-litre (6 cu. Ft) of cargo to the 1062-litre already available.
The 4.0-litre V6 produces 210-hp and 254 lb-ft of torque, delivering 2413 kg of towing capacity (1450 lbs of payload). The 4.6-litre V8 puts down 292-hp and offers a maximum 6800 lbs of towing capacity (1390 lbs of payload).
The overall feel inside is very clean and refined—charcoal black leather; a smart, unobtrusive centre console with a few touches of chrome; and a minimalist instrument panel with a two straightforward white gauges (turn black at night) and small display screen nestled in-between.
The 5-passenger cabin is roomy and comfortable. Standard to the Adrenalin are leather trimmed (with leather perforated leather inserts) sport bucket seats up front (10-way power driver, 4-way manual passenger) and a rear 60/40 bench also leather trimmed.
Standard audio includes an AM/FM single CD/MP3, and an audio input jack. My tester came with optional SIRIUS satellite radio and the Navigation System with voice-activation, AM/FM 6-CD/MP3 player with in-dash changer and subwoofer.
Also standard is the Sync voice-activation system by Microsoft—a hands-free environment allowing most Bluetooth device and iPod/media player functionality integrated into the communication and entertainment system.
Overall, the Sport Trac Adrenalin is a gorgeous vehicle with roomy and refined interior, bad-ass styling and attitude, ample cargo, to name a few. Now, Ford just needs to send the Adrenalin to their performance division, SVT, to rework the engine and produce some serious power. Balance the ‘show’ with the ‘go’ and Adrenalin would undoubtedly prove to be the best of both worlds.
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