- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2003

Ford calls its giant sport utility vehicle the Expedition. I have renamed it the Intimidator.

Driving the Expedition I found that drivers who push their luck at intersections became cautious when they discovered that the Intimidator had the right of way — and I enjoyed every moment of their discomfort.

I also learned that despite its size it was quite agile — not sports-car agile but SUV agile. Its ride and handling were also a pleasant surprise. The Expedition isn’t made for all-out enthusiastic driving, but it is capable of making a trip over a mountain road much more pleasant than I expected.

It also should prove to be an excellent off-road vehicle. Snow, ice and muddy roads should prove no problem for the Expedition but its size (205.8 inches in length and its width 78.7 inches) might make thick forest areas somewhat dicey.

Buyers have a choice between two engines, a 4.6-liter V-8 or a Triton 5.4-liter V-8. The test vehicle was equipped with the Triton engine that provides 260 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 350 foot-pounds of torque at 2,500 rpm. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.

The Triton engine features an all-new cast-iron engine block that reduces vibration for quieter operation. This engine is capable of towing 8,500 pounds, which should allow the pulling or a fair-sized boat or trailer.

Considering its curb weight of 5,686 pounds, the fuel rating of 13 miles per gallon city and 17 highway is not too bad.

During my week behind the wheel that found us doing more highway than city driving, the test vehicle averaged 15.8.

Ford’s AWD/4WD system — ControlTrac — enhances off-road performance and provides excellent control on slippery surfaces. Combined with Ford’s stability system (AdvanceTrac), the Expedition is ready to take on the wilderness. AdvanceTrac uses electronic braking to transfer torque from side-to-side, while ControlTrac’s transfer case divides torque from front-to-rear.

Ford claims having two wheels completely off the ground — off-roading’s most extreme challenge — doesn’t slow the Expedition.

One of the SUV’s feature attractions is its ability to seat as many as nine passengers in comfort. The test vehicle was outfitted with the optional second-row bucket seats that cut the passenger load to seven. The advantage of the second-row bucket seats is that they leave easy access to the third row.

Cargo carrying is another of the Expedition’s strengths. Second- and third-row seats fold flat to create a maximum cargo area of 110.4 cubic inches without ever having to remove a seat.

Ford also offers a power folding third row that is an industry first. It was on the test vehicle. Just push a button: down it goes and up it comes in the same manner.

For 2003, the Expedition offers an all-new braking system featuring the largest rotors in the segment with calipers twice as stiff as before. The system provides improved pedal feel, reduced fade and shorter stopping differences. A Brake Assist feature can improve braking distance by up to 20 percent in real-world conditions.

Four-wheel anti-lock braking with electronic brake-force distribution helps drivers maintain control by preventing wheel lockup.

Along with the active safety features mentioned earlier, the Expedition features the latest in passive safety technology, including the optional new Safety Canopy that protects occupants by cushioning impacts and helping reduce the potential for occupant ejection.

The Expedition will not only intimidate impolite drivers, it will provide a full range of activities for families who enjoy the outdoors.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide