The biggest SUV of all debuted last year to mixed reviews. Ford fans cheered the Excursion for finally giving them an alternative to the Chevrolet Suburban, while environmentalists jeered because of the vehicles jumbo size and insatiable fuel consumption.
Measuring nearly 19 feet long, the Excursion is about 20 inches longer than the full-size Ford Expedition and more than 7 inches longer than the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL, previously the largest SUV. Built off the same platform as the Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup, the Excursion exceeds 8,500 pounds in gross vehicle weight (the weight of the vehicle, plus what it can carry in passengers and cargo), which exempts it from federal emissions and fuel economy requirements. Ford, however, said the Excursion exceeds the pollution standards for other trucks and qualifies as a low-emissions vehicle.
Excursion has four side doors, and Ford says the rear doors are wider than the Suburbans for easier access to the middle and rear seats. The rear door is a tri-panel arrangement with a window on top that flips up and two Dutch doors below that open to the sides.
Because of Excursions size and height, Ford equips the vehicle with a feature called the BlockerBeam, a bar that runs across the vehicle below the front bumper to prevent cars from sliding underneath the Excursion in a collision. A standard trailer hitch is designed to provide similar protection at the rear.
Even with all three rows of seats in use, the nine-passenger Excursion still provides 48 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats. The middle seats tip and fold forward to allow easier access to the back row. The rear bench seat is removable and rolls on built-in wheels. With the rear seat removed and the middle bench folded down, the Excursion has 146 cubic feet of cargo space and can carry a 4-by-8-foot plywood sheet.
Power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals that adjust within a 3-inch range are scheduled to become optional later in the model year.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available. A 255-horsepower 5.4-liter V-8 is standard on two-wheel-drive models, and a 310-hp 6.8-liter V-10 is standard on four-wheel-drive models and optional on 4x2s. An optional 7.3-liter turbodiesel V-8 gains 15 hp and is now rated at 250. Excursion tows up to 10,000 pounds with the V-10 or diesel engine.
All models have a 44-gallon fuel tank. Ford estimates the 6.8-liter yields 10 to 11 mpg and the 5.4-liter gets 15 to 16 mpg from combined city/highway driving. According to Ford, the diesel gets 17 to 18 mpg.
If size and brawn are what you really need or want the Excursion is a worthy alternative to the Chevy Suburban and similar GMC Yukon XL. Most buyers can manage nicely with the Expedition or other full-size SUVs. The Excursion is a lot of vehicle to handle on a twisting mountain road, and the 44-gallon fuel tank drains all too quickly. With todays gas prices, it costs a bundle to refill.