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2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Review
A melding of ideas for indecisive buyers.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac is a combination of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and a pickup truck. Meant to capitalize on the popularity of extended cab pickups, it is a feature-filled and well-powered crossover for buyers who can’t decide between the comfort of an SUV and the utility of a pickup’s bed.
Engines: 4.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed-automatic, five-speed-manual
Models: Explorer Sport Trac XLS, Explorer Sport Trac XLT, Explorer Sport Trac XLT Premium
The 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac gets an updated interior with revised door trim, new low-back bucket seats, and updated colors. The front seats are six-way power adjustable and can be heated and equipped with power lumbar support if leather upholstery is ordered. Ford's Safety Canopy side airbag system with rollover sensors is now available for the Sport Trac, as are standard rear disc brakes. There is an Adrenaline Edition package that includes new colors and a 485-watt Pioneer sound system.
The 2003 Explorer Sport Trac is offered in three trims: XLS, XLT, and XLT Premium. It is only offered with four doors and a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. The XLS are well equipped and come standard with dark tinted rear glass, roof rails, and skid plates on four-wheel drive models only. The XLT trim adds alloy wheels and power side mirrors. Unique alloy wheels are added with the XLT Premium trim. A Premium Sport Group options package for the XLT trim provides bright cast aluminum wheels, fog lights, front tow hooks on four-wheel-drive models only, larger all-terrain tires and side step bars.
The 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLS trim starts off with air-conditioning, power door locks, power windows, and a CD player. Go with an XLT and get remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, cruise control, Berber carpeted floor mats, and premium sound. The top-line XLT Premium includes a special center console that features rear audio and climate controls. The Convenience Group options package for the XLS includes many features found on the XLT, while the Comfort Group for the XLT trim offers a six-way power driver's seat, power lumbar support for driver and front passenger, rear climate and audio controls with special center console, overhead console with compass and exterior temperature display and an electrochromic rearview mirror. Stand-alone options offered on most Sport Trac trims are a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a cargo cage/bed extender, a power moonroof, the new Safety Canopy side airbag and rollover protection system, and a hard tonneau cover for the bed. Heated leather seating can be added to the XLT Premium.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac has only one engine available: a 4.0-liter, single overhead cam V-6 producing 203 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is available for only the most basic XLS models while all of the other trims come equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission. Shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive is optional for all trims. This powertrain has decent acceleration and gets the job done in most of the basic traffic situations, although it feels strained in hard duty situations like passing on the highway or going up steep, mountain grades. The steering is kind of accurate and to its credit, the Sport Trac is reasonably balanced and confident on the road. The Sport Trac’s off-road abilities are questionable at best so look elsewhere if that is a major need. The ride is unforgiving over bumps and much like a typical truck.
The 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac's previously-used drum rear brakes are exchanged for rear discs, and there is an optional Safety Canopy side airbag system that also employs rollover sensors to protect occupants in the event the truck flips over. Standard safety gear for the Sport Trac includes anti-lock brakes, anti-theft system, child seat anchors, electronic brake force distribution, dual front impact airbags, and seatbelt pretensioners. The IIHS has not tested the 2003 Explorer Sport Trac. The NHTSA only conducted a rollover safety test. The Sport Trac receives two out of five stars in that test.
EPA Fuel Economy
Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT: 15/19 mpg city/highway
Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT Premium: 15/19 mpg city/highway
- SUV comfort combined with a pickup truck bed
- Heavy-duty V-6
- Extensive features
- New Safety Canopy airbag system
You Won't Like
- Built on outdated Explorer platform
- Lacks cargo space of a true pickup
- Questionable off-road ability
A melding of ideas for indecisive buyers.
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