The 2005 Ford Explorer and Sport Trac were basically identical vehicles, they just had different body styles, trim levels and engine options available to them, but other than that they were very similar.
Their towing capacity did differ, however, mainly due to the fact that there was an additional engine option for one of the models and they had different curb weights as well. There is a lot of information to go over in order to figure out what your maximum trailer weight rating is for your specific model and that's exactly what we go into in this article, so let's dive in!
You will want to consult your owner's manual when it comes to anything regarding your vehicle, as it is the best resource available. I highly recommend that you stick to all of Ford's recommendations and requirements.
2005 Explorer Overview
Overall Capacity: The overall towing capacity for the 2005 Ford Explorers ranged from 3,240-7,140 lbs. and the ratings were affected by two main factors: the engine you had equipped and your rear axle ratio.
For the 2005 Sport Trac models, the overall range was less significant, having a range of between 5,080-5,300 lbs. and was only dependent on whether you had a 4WD or 2WD model.
Capacity By Trim Levels: There were many different trim levels for both models, which you can see listed below and I assigned each trim level their appropriate capacity range, based on the engine options that were available for each trim level. This really helps to break down the data even further, so we can make better comparisons.
- XLS: 3,240-5,760 lbs.
- XLS Sport: 3,240-5,760 lbs.
- XLT: 3,240-7,140 lbs.
- XLT Sport: 3,240-7,140 lbs.
- Eddie Bauer: 3,240-7,140 lbs.
- Limited: 3,240-7,140 lbs.
- XLS (Sport Trac): 5,080-5,300 lbs.
- XLT (Sport Trac): 5,080-5,300 lbs.
- XLT Premium (Sport Trac): 5,080-5,300 lbs.
- Adrenalin (Sport Trac): 5,080-5,300 lbs.
The 4.0L engine was the standard option for most trim levels, and the 4.6L engine was offered as an optional upgrade for some trim levels like the XLT and XLT Sport.
S/⚫ Standard ⚪ Optional — Not Available
By Engine Options: I wanted to break down the data even further and decided to look at the maximum trailer weight ratings according to the engine that was equipped and decided to list the capacity range according to the engine options that were offered for these vehicles.
- 4.0L (V6): 3,240-5,760 lbs.
- 4.6L (V8): 3,260-7,140 lbs.
- 4.0L (Sport Trac) (V6): 5,080-5,300 lbs.
The Explorer and Sport Trac Charts:
There were two separate charts listed in the guide, which makes sense because both of these models are essentially separate models, but they are similar in a sense and it's why I decided to group them together in this article.
If we look at the two different charts below, we can see that the engine options are listed on the left and the maximum trailer weight ratings are listed on the farthest right-hand section of the table. We can also see that the axle ratio options are listed, along with the gross combined weight rating specifications.
Trailer Tow Packages and Hitch Capacities:
I was also able to find the trailer tow packages that were offered for these vehicles and I went ahead and highlighted the columns of interest in the red box. There are standard options available for each vehicle and then there was one optional package that could be installed for the Explorers that was signified as the 53G package. This table is nice because it lays out all the equipment that was offered for these vehicles.
The image below shows the hitch weight capacities, which is very interesting because most people don't realize that in order to achieve the higher capacities that are listed in the charts, you will have to have a weight distributing hitch installed on your vehicle.
If we look at the table, we can see that the Explorer has a maximum hitch capacity of between 3,500-5,000 pounds if you're using a standard hitch, but you're able to achieve that higher 7,700 lb rating if you have a weight distributing hitch installed instead.
A Note On Trailer Brakes: There was not much information regarding trailer brakes for these vehicles, but I did post a screenshot of what I found in the owner's manual below. This little note basically states that trailer brakes can be installed if they are installed properly and adjusted properly and that these trailer brakes must meet local and federal regulations in order to be compliant.
Each state will have its own laws about trailer weight and trailer brakes and each state may differ on what amount of weight will require trailer brakes to be added to your trailer. You will want to check out your local laws to be sure you comply with everything they need.
The Certification Label...
GVWR & GAWRs: The GVWR and GAWR specs were not specified anywhere in any of the resources I used for this article and that's because these two metrics are actually listed on the vehicle itself and not in any of the online literature.
The image above shows what is referred to as the certification label and this can be found on all vehicles because it is law to have this certification label posted on the vehicle and for the 2005 Explorers and Sport Tracs, you can find this label on the door jamb or the door itself, on the driver's side of the vehicle.
GCWR: The gross combined weight rating was listed in the charts and ranged from 7,700-11,600 lbs. for the Explorers and for the Sport Trac models, there was only one weight rating specified and that was set at 9,600 lbs. Having these specifications listed in the chart made finding them a lot easier.
Axle Code: If we refer back to the charts, we can see that you will need to figure out what axle ratio you had equipped in your vehicle, as there were two options available for the Explorers. You can get your axle code from the certification label, but it is located at the bottom of the label, kind of towards the middle and will contain a two-digit code.
You will then have to take that code and decipher it in order to figure out what axle ratio was equipped on the rear end of your SUV. Ford usually gives us a legend that decipher these codes, but they did not do it for the 2005 model year, so you will have to use a third-party website that has these codes deciphered for you, like this website.
Alternatively, you could climb under the vehicle and look at the rear axle housing and try finding a metal tag that has the stamped axle ratio in the tag.
A Few Helpful Links:
This article was unique in the sense that the Explorers and the Sport Trac models were both listed in the same article, but each of them had their own separate resources, for the most part, except for the guide that applied to all of Ford's 2005 vehicles that had tow capabilities.
I listed each of the resources I used for this article down below for those of you out there that want a quick way to check those out for yourself. Most of the information I have in this article came directly from the guide itself, as it provided the majority of the information I needed, including a lot of the images you see in the article.
The other resources were mainly used for supplemental information and filled in the gaps when looking for specifics on certain aspects of the vehicles like the trim level options, etc.