Part I: Backing Up to Go Forward
A cracked frame. Bumpsteer. Deleted four-wheel drive. Our Sport Trac was plagued by numerous troubles that started long before the current editorial team came on board at OFF-ROAD. We weren't privy to the conversations, agreements, and wrenching sessions that originally transformed the 'Trac from a nerdy stocker into a good-looking truck that was a downright scary experience to drive. We weren't there, and furthermore this truck's past is just that: the past. It was time to get on with the present and go forward into the future.
The Sport Trac's designers and engineers came up with a good thing when they designed this truck. Based on a Ranger Edge front suspension and drivetrain, the Sport Trac seats four adults and is propelled by Ford's potent 4.0 SOHC V-6. There's just enough of a bed to carry a day's worth of gear. Need more storage space? Add a camper shell or a tailgate enclosure or a roof rack.
The Sport Trac also has a lot going for it as a prerunner. The aforementioned seating for four means you can take more friends along or use the rear seating area as lockable storage space. With dimensions akin to the Ranger, the Sport Trac has enough wheelbase to feel stable at speed. The truck isn't so bulky as to feel awkward and clumsy when the turns get tight and the trail gets narrow. We think Goldilocks would feel at home prerunning in a Sport Trac.
We cured our front-end troubles in one fell swoop with a King-shocked Dixon Bros. Racing long-travel kit. Had we begun with a stock vehicle, the installation would've taken a fraction of the time we needed. Instead, we had to spend many cubic hours cutting, patching, and welding sections of the 'Trac's damaged frame before we could begin to set the Dixon parts in place.
It was worth it. From our first drive around the block to our first trip back in the dirt with the new front end, this truck is 200-percent better than before - twice the truck it used to be.