2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac was new.
Reviewers have mixed opinions on the 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac's performance. While many reviewers are disappointed with the SUT's fuel economy, others are very pleased with its pleasant handling.
- "The 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac's driving experience, both on pavement and off, is exceptionally good." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Performance is tepid with the standard V-6, respectable with optional V-8. Mass limits dynamic responses." -- Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power
Under the hood, the 2009 Sport Trac features a 4.0-liter V6 engine. Optional on either model is four-wheel drive, as well as an all-new 4.6-liter V8. Some, however, find fuel economy to be a disappointment. The EPA estimates fuel economy for the base V6 engine at 13 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway. For the V8 engine, it's estimated at 13 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway for the 2WD model, and 13 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway for the 4WD model. Both engines take regular fuel.
Most reviewers find the V6 adequate, but note that the V8 is much more versatile. The V6 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V8 gets a six-speed automatic.
- "In terms of acceleration, the V8 provides a smooth, broad power band, with performance about the same as that of V6-powered Japanese crew-cab pickups. The V6 is another matter -- it's coarse and ponderous relative to the V8, and as it's also less fuel efficient, we recommend the V8." -- Edmunds
- "With optional V-8, the Sport Trac can accelerate to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is quite good for a pickup. In normal driving, though, the V-8 feels a tad sleepy." -- Car and Driver
- "I fell for its deliciously smooth V8 hustle. Unless taxed with demanding acceleration or hill climbing, the engine is near silent within normal operating parameters, with only a luxury-car burble to be heard." -- Automobile.com
- "Shifts are fast and barely perceptible. Though Cars.com colleague Kelsey Mays observed that the transmission didn't always select the right gear following a rolling stop, the transmission is a class act most of the time." --Cars.com
Handling and Braking
While agreeing that the "Sport" in Sport Trac in no way relates to sporty driving, the majority of reviewers say the SUT is comfortable and easy to live with on the road.
- "Sport Trac mimics the Explorer wagons' fine ride control and bests nearly all rival pickups. Its solid structure enhances ride quality even. The rear end resists hopping over sharp bumps, even when unloaded." -- Consumer Guide
- "Ford Explorer Sport Trac is not much fun to drive." -- Autoweb
- "The ride is almost luxury-car plush, and the liberal use of noise insulation creates a hushed cabin." -- Edmunds
- "Steering is far too light and numb at highway speeds for a vehicle that has 'sport' in its name. Trying to drive this thing in a sporty manner is an exercise in futility." -- AutoWeek
- "On the road the ride is smooth, even and comfortable, and off-road the wheels stay in contact with the surface and keep things going. For most folks the Sport Trac will be the best-handling, best riding truck they've ever driven," -- Kelley Blue Book
The Sport Trac comes standard in two-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is an option on all models.
- "Intended for everyday driving, 4x4 Auto mode routes power only to the rear wheels until they slip, at which point power is delivered automatically to the front wheels. The 4x4 High mode provides a 50/50 power split to the front and rear wheels, making it ideal for off-road or severe winter conditions. The 4x4 Low mode locks the transfer case and is for the really deep stuff, steep grades and pulling a boat out of the water." -- Edmunds
- "A very capable climber. While powering its way up a steep ascent, an associate journalist compared the vehicle's tenacious grip to a cat on carpeting." --Automobile.com
- The Sport Trac "probably shouldn't be your first choice as a serious off-road machine, but out of the box it is a competent machine for light to medium trail duty," -- 4x4REVIEW.com