Shoppers looking for the largest sport utility vehicle in any showroom still must turn to Ford. The Excursion measures nearly 19 feet long thats 21 inches longer than the companys full-size Expedition and more than 7 inches longer than its next closest rivals, the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL.
But bigger isnt necessarily better. Ford has announced that the massive Excursion will likely be dropped during the 2004 model year.
The Excursion comes in XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited trim levels and may be equipped with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. For 2004, an XLS version replaces the XLT Value Edition. A new Eddie Bauer series joined the Excursion lineup for 2003, and a new 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine that generates 325 horsepower and 560 pounds-feet of torque also became available. The diesel engine teams with a five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. Other power plants offered include 5.4-liter V-8 and 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engines.
Traditional and oversized SUV styling cues include four side doors. Ford claims that the Excursions back doors are wider than those on the Suburban; this allows easier access to the middle and rear seats. The rear door features a tri-panel arrangement, which has 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.
Steel or 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. Chrome running boards are optional.
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. Cargo volume grows to 146 cubic feet with the rear seat removed and the middle bench folded; that space can carry a 4-by-8-foot plywood sheet. Wireless headphones are included with an optional DVD entertainment system.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available. A 255-hp, 5.4-liter V-8 is standard on rear-drive models, and a 310-hp, 6.8-liter V-10 is standard in four-wheel-drive models and optional in 4x2s. Both of these engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The 325-hp Power Stroke 6.0-liter diesel V-8 mates with a five-speed-automatic transmission. Towing capacity is as high as 11,000 pounds with the V-10 and diesel engines.
Antilock brakes are standard, but side-impact airbags are not available. An optional reverse-sensing system may be installed.
Drive an Excursion and 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. The Power Stroke diesel engine performs admirably, but it enhances the sensation of being in a full-fledged truck. The diesel-powered version manages to climb some steep grades but at a leisurely pace.