Shoppers looking for the largest sport utility vehicle in any showroom can still turn to Ford. The Excursion measures nearly 19 feet long — that's 21 inches longer than the company's full-size Expedition and more than 7 inches longer than its next closest rivals, the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL.
Bigger isn't necessarily better, and sales of mammoth SUVs have tapered off. Ford had suggested that the massive Excursion might be dropped during 2004. But it earned a reprieve and continues into 2005 with new jeweled headlights, a fresh grille and bumper, and revised wheel choices.
Excursions come in XLS, XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited trim levels and can be equipped with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The abundantly equipped Eddie Bauer model joined the Excursion lineup for 2003, when 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. A 5.4-liter V-8 or a 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engine can also power the Excursion.
Traditional and oversized SUV styling cues include four side doors. Ford claims the Excursion's 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 doors below that open to the sides.
Aluminum wheels hold 16-inch tires. The Excursion rides a 137-inch wheelbase, stretches 226.4 inches long overall and has an 8.5-inch ground clearance. Lighted running boards are available.
The Excursion has a nine-passenger capacity, plus 48 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the rear seat. Split bench seats in the second row tip and fold forward to allow easier access to the third row. The rear bench 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. A 310-hp, 6.8-liter V-10 that delivers 425 pounds-feet of torque 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. A reverse-sensing system can be installed.
Drive an Excursion, and you're 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.
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