Ford has touted itself as the "Better Idea" company in years past. Its biggest Better Idea to date, the massive Expedition, may well be considered a Best Idea, judging from the horde of cash-in-hand customers queuing up at Ford dealerships. Assembly plants are working full steam to meet the demand for the the Expedition, and its luxurious near-twin, the Lincoln Navigator.
Ford and Lincoln dealers are trying to get them as quickly as possible, but buyers have recently been placed on waiting lists. Enough Expeditions are now trickling into the Ford dealerships that buyers can drive one home. Those wishing to purchase a Navigator should expect to wait for awhile to get one.
Why is the Expedition so successful? We think its success goes beyond the current enthusiasm for large sport-utilities. And we think it goes beyond the shortage of contenders; only the GMC and Chevrolet Suburbans compete in this big size class. We think the Expedition is selling like hot cakes because it does everything it was designed to do and it does it well. Its good looks certainly don't hurt, either.
This year does not bring major changes to the Expedition because it is only in its second year of production. And the folks at Ford wouldn't want to change a thing. In fact, the only things setting the 1998 version apart from its predecessor are the availability of some additional paint colors. The Expedition has also been certified as a Low-Emissions Vehicle in states that have adopted California's tougher emissions regulations.
The stylists at Ford took a sensible approach when they set out to give shape to the Expedition. They already had two winners to their credit--the F-150 pickup and the Explorer. So they borrowed the best elements from each to create another success. From nose to windshield, the Expedition shares sheet metal with the F-150. From the front doors back, the Expedition has the contours of an Explorer. No panels interchange between Expedition and Explorer, but the resemblance is unmistakable.
This combination of ingredients works well. The Expedition is handsome, with a sloping hoodline and rounded front end that reflect attention paid to aerodynamic design. It's a design that pays off with improved fuel efficiency and reduced wind noise. As a matter of necessity, the sides and back are shaped more for utility than style. Clever use of trim and rounded corners provides some visual definition, however.
Stretching more than 17 feet from nose to tail, the Expedition is certainly no compact. And there's no way to disguise that. GM's Suburban is even longer, adding a foot-and-a-half to the total. Ford touts the Expedition's shorter length as a benefit when trying to fit into a garage. (However, Ford is working on an even bigger rig to compete with the Suburban.) It's true that an Expedition will fit into some garages that are too small for a Suburban, but check yours to be sure as garage sizes vary.
Two trim levels, XLT and Eddie Bauer, make up the Expedition model range. With little demand for plain, entry-level vehicle in this class, Ford equips the XLT well and the Eddie Bauer even better. Differences between XLT and Eddie Bauer are confined to paint and trim. And even these distinctions can be blurred by checking off items from a long list of optional equipment.
The Expedition derives much of its chassis and mechanical hardware from Ford's F-150 pickup and all Expeditions are available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The Expedition's generous outside dimensions provide for a large, commodious interior. Two seating configurations are available. Ordered with front bucket seats and a center bench, the Expedition can comfortably haul five passengers. Ordered with the front full-width seat and center bench makes room for six passengers. Well-padded chairs provide comfortable seating.
Adding the optional third-row bench provides seating for two more passengers--three if they are small. Getting in and out of the third seat requires some agility, so it helps if they are small and young.
Our XLT came with full carpeting, attractive color-keyed door- and dash panels and amenities galore, including power windows, mirrors and door locks, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel and an audio system that should please many buyers. First- and second-row occupants get separate heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls; a third set of controls for the third seat is optional.
A curved dashboard houses instruments and controls where they can easily be reached. A large center console offers additional storage space and a place for front-seat occupants to rest their arms; a roof-mounted center console is also available. The Eddie Bauer roof console adds a digital display that provides the date and time, average fuel economy, compass headings, along with a switch for the power swing-out rear quarter windows.
Attractive and durable materials are used throughout the Expedition's cabin. Soft-touch coverings are applied to switches and door panels. The window switches are lighted internally at night, a nice touch that not all vehicles carry.
From the driver's seat, you can't help but notice the size of the Expedition. Surprisingly, its bulk doesn't make it especially difficult to drive. Speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering works in the driver's favor by keeping steering effort down to a reasonable level. Brake pedal feel is light, yet precise. Lots of large windows, along with big mirrors, make it easy to see in all directions. Extra care and attention is required when maneuvering in close-quarters, however.
The ride quality is good, though it is not as soft as that of a traditional family sedan or wagon. The two-wheel-drive version is slightly smoother on the highway thanks to its independent front suspension, but both two- and four-wheel-drive versions ride very nicely considering their size and weight. An advantage of the Expedition's long wheelbase is a resistance to pitching over freeway expansion joints and other irregularities. When driven on twistier roads, the Expedition does not lean unduly in corners, nor does the front end dive excessively under hard braking.
Buyers of 4x4 Expeditions can order the load leveling system, which uses compressed air to compensate for varying loads while improving ride quality. Built into the system is a one-inch increase in ride height. When parked, the system can make the Expedition kneel down to lower the step in height, which makes getting in and out of the vehicle easier.
Four-wheel-drive Expeditions are more competent off road than their size and fancy trimmings suggest. While serious rock-climbing is not suggested, occasional forays off the beaten path can be undertaken without fear of being left stranded. By simply turning a rotary knob on the dashboard, the driver can choose between two-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive, full-time four-wheel drive and low-range four-wheel drive.
Beyond the choice of two- or four-wheel drive, the buyer also chooses between two V8 engines. They are identical save for displacement. They are smooth and quiet. We recommend the larger unit, which delivers extra pulling power for full passenger loads and heavy trailers. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.
By any measure, the Expedition sets new standards for the large sport-utility market. Its blend of strength, refinement, comfort, good road manners and exceptional finish quality is not matched by the Suburban, at least for now. The shorter length of the Expedition is an admission ticket to a larger number of garages.
In our view, the lure of the biggest Ford is its versatility. The Expedition will haul almost anything one might put in a pickup truck, assuming the owner is willing to soil the plush carpet. It will carry a large family in limousine-like splendor, pull a trailer or explore places beyond pavement's end. For the price, you can't ask for more than that.
Build and price your dream Ford Expedition in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2014 FORD EXPEDITION$34,908 | 17,379 mi
2014 FORD EXPEDITION EL$49,242 | 3,300 mi
2013 Ford Expedition$34,999 | 9,892 mi
2013 FORD EXPEDITION$38,960 | 21,166 mi
2012 FORD EXPEDITION EL$22,989 | 68,428 mi
2012 Ford Expedition$26,398 | 61,070 mi
2012 Ford Expedition EL$29,875 | 53,469 mi
2012 Ford Expedition$32,495 | 71,417 mi
2012 Ford Expedition$33,000 | 28,462 mi
2011 FORD EXPEDITION$32,000 | 37,703 mi
2011 FORD EXPEDITION$33,738 | 40,269 mi
2011 Ford Expedition$34,899 | 45,282 mi
2011 Ford Expedition EL$34,950 | 44,955 mi
2010 Ford Expedition EL$21,888 | 81,656 mi
2010 Ford Expedition EL$25,990 | 82,194 mi
2010 FORD EXPEDITION$29,475 | 68,866 mi
2010 Ford Expedition$34,350 | 55,313 mi
2008 Ford Expedition EL$15,981 | 94,384 mi
2008 Ford Expedition$28,125 | 48,629 mi
2007 Ford Expedition$9,600 | 162,243 mi
2007 Ford Expedition$13,700 | 112,134 mi
2007 FORD EXPEDITION$14,999 | 116,477 mi
2007 Ford Expedition EL$16,997 | 104,532 mi
2007 Ford Expedition EL$19,786 | 88,880 mi
2006 Ford Expedition$10,915 | 100,180 mi
2005 Ford Expedition$9,975 | 118,113 mi
2004 FORD EXPEDITION$5,984 | 118,691 mi
2004 Ford Expedition$8,994 | 111,860 mi