Shoppers looking for the largest sport utility vehicle in any showroom must turn to Ford. The Excursion measures nearly 19 feet long thats nearly 21 inches longer than the companys full-size Expedition, and it is more than 7 inches longer than its next closest rivals, the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL.
Built on the same platform as Fords F-250 Super Duty pickup truck, the Excursion exceeds an 8,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (the vehicles weight plus what it can carry in passengers and cargo), which makes it exempt from federal emissions and fuel-economy requirements. Ford has been promoting environmental concerns in connection with its SUV lineup, which includes an announcement that the Excursion qualifies as a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV).
Environmentalists have never stopped jeering at the jumbo Excursion, citing its close-to-insatiable fuel consumption. The standard 44-gallon fuel tank is indicative of the vehicles unappetizing gas mileage, though Ford emphasizes the fact that it gives the vehicle a long range between fill-ups.
The Excursion comes with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (4WD). A new Eddie Bauer series joins the XLT and Limited models for 2003, and they will feature an Arizona Beige grille insert and fascias. Early in 2003, a new 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine will debut, and it will deliver 325 horsepower and 550 pounds-feet of torque. A new TorqShift five-speed-automatic transmission will accompany that diesel engine. New 16-inch forged wheels and an in-dash six-CD changer go on the Limited edition, and all A-pillars on the drivers side gain grab handles.
Despite rising fuel prices in 2000 and into 2001, Fords behemoth SUV managed to sell well enough. But total sales for 2001 dipped by 31.7 percent to just 34,710 units, as reported by Automotive News. In July 2002, Ford sources acknowledged that production of the Excursion will end after the 2004 model year.
Even though the Excursion is abundantly sized, traditional SUV styling includes four side doors. Ford claims that the Excursions back doors are wider than those on the Suburban for easier access to the middle and rear seats. The rear door is a tri-panel arrangement, which features a window on top that flips up and twin Dutch doors below that open to the sides. A BlockerBeam runs across the vehicle below the front bumper to prevent cars from sliding underneath it in the event of a collision.
Aluminum wheels hold 16-inch tires. The Excursion rides a 137.1-inch wheelbase, stretches 226.7 inches long overall and has an 8.1-inch ground clearance. Two-wheel-drive (2WD) models are 77.2 inches high, vs. 80.2 inches high for the 4x4 editions. A standard trailer hitch provides similar protection at the rear.
The Excursion has a nine-passenger capacity, plus 48 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seat. The seats of the second-row split bench tip and fold forward to allow easier access to the third row. The rear bench seat is removable and rolls on built-in wheels. The cargo volume grows to 146 cubic feet with the rear seat removed and the middle bench folded down; that space can carry a 4-by-8-foot plywood sheet. Optional power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals adjust within a 3-inch range to suit individual drivers.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available in the Excursion. A 255-hp, 5.4-liter V-8 is standard on 2WD models. A 310-hp, 6.8-liter V-10 goes into 4WD models and is optional on 4x2s, and an optional 7.3-liter V-8 turbo-diesel produces 250 hp. These engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission. A new 325-hp Power Stroke 6.0-liter diesel will arrive during the 2003 model year; it will team with a new five-speed-automatic transmission. The Excursions towing capacity is as high as 11,000 pounds with the V-10 or diesel engine.
Antilock brakes are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available.
Describing the drive in an Excursion is easy: Youre in a truck, period. Expect the typical engine and transmission drone found in trucks, coupled with ride quality that bears little resemblance to a passenger car. Fords newly redesigned Expedition yields a far more pleasing experience overall including more satisfactory acceleration and the slightly smaller model has enough interior space to suit most buyers.
The Excursions new Power Stroke diesel engine performs admirably, but it enhances the sensation of being in a full-fledged truck. A Power Stroke diesel Excursion managed to climb some steep grades but at a leisurely pace.