In 2003, Ford hailed its redesigned full-size sport utility vehicle as the "best on the road, best in the dirt, best in the snow." The Expedition, which is closely related to the Lincoln Navigator, was second in size only to the Excursion in Ford's SUV lineup. Now that Ford discontinued the Excursion, the Expedition ranks No. 1 in dimensions among Ford's SUVs.
All 2006 Expeditions use a 5.4-liter Triton V-8. A Reverse Sensing System and a Safety Canopy side curtain-type airbags system are now stand-alone options. A chrome-tip exhaust pipe is standard on the King Ranch edition.
Six trim levels are available: XLS, XLT, XLT Sport, Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch. The instrument cluster was redesigned for 2005, and raised roof rails replaced the previous roof rack. For 2005, the available AdvanceTrac electronic stability system gained Roll Stability Control. AdvanceTrac applies the brakes to individual wheels to help control the vehicle during a skid or spin.
An on-demand ControlTrac four-wheel-drive system automatically distributes torque to the wheel that has the most traction. Expeditions also come with rear-wheel drive.
Claimed to be stronger and freer of vibration than the previous-generation model, the current Expedition has well-defined fender and wheel-lip moldings. The four-door Expedition has a 119-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 205.8 inches.
Ground clearance is 9.3 inches, and all models ride on 17-inch tires. A load-leveling air suspension is available.
Three seating configurations are available, and one offers space for nine occupants. The second row can be equipped with a 40/20/40-split bench seat or a pair of captain's chairs. The second- and third-row seats fold flat, and a power-folding 60/40-split third-row seat is optional. The center of the second-row bench can slide forward 11 inches.
A navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system are optional. Maximum cargo volume is 110.5 cubic feet, with 20.7 cubic feet behind the third row.
All Expeditions hold a 5.4-liter V-8 that produces 300 horsepower and 365 pounds-feet of torque and mates with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Available with rear- or four-wheel drive, the Expedition can be equipped to tow as much as 8,900 pounds.
Antilock brakes, a tire-pressure monitor, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard. Options include a Safety Canopy side curtain-type airbag system and a Reverse Sensing System that detects objects to the rear while backing up.
Drivers aren't likely to mistake the Expedition for a passenger car, yet the sizable SUV yields a light, almost carlike, sensation. The ride isn't gentle, but it leans toward the soft side. Occupants get bumped a bit on rolling pavement, but this experience isn't as harsh as that of a full-fledged truck. Even relatively smooth surfaces tend to produce excess motion.
On twisty, two-lane roads, the Expedition behaves admirably, provided that you exercise some restraint in curves. This SUV appears quite sure of itself when traveling off-road.
Ford's 5.4-liter V-8 produces sufficient vigor under most conditions, though its performance isn't stunning. Engine and transmission responses are excellent.
Comfortable, well-cushioned seats deliver good support. Second-row occupants don't have an overabundance of legroom, and the gauges aren't the easiest to read.