- The Washington Times - Friday, July 26, 2002

In 1997, Ford introduced its full-size sport utility vehicle, the Expedition, in Alaska.
Ford wanted to make the statement that this vehicle was no softy. Although it had the accommodations of many luxury sedans, it also had the underpinnings of a Ford truck. It was sure to be rough and tough. But as the owners of big SUVs became experienced in the ways of these big haulers, they also started to demand more creature comforts. So, Ford set out to rework the Expedition.
For the next generation, just five to seven years away, it would fulfill these demands while retaining the trucklike abilities that are always expected.
The next full revision came six years later, and Ford did exactly what it set out to accomplish. The 2003 Expedition is a much more refined and sophisticated vehicle while retaining all the capabilities that would surely be demanded of it. It also includes features that no one, except for the Ford engineers, thought of adding.
The all-new hydro-formed chassis is lower and stronger. It provided engineers the perfect platform to design a light-weight suspension system that can handle a broader range of situations with more finesse.
Yet, the new Expedition is as rugged as any SUV needs to be. The use of aluminum suspension components once was limited to exotic sports cars.
Today, the process has been perfected so that these light-weight components are as strong as steel, yet they lower vehicle weight. This helps to increase load-carrying capability and fuel economy.
A new four-wheel independent suspension gives the Expedition better road-holding abilities. Not just on the highway but also in cornering on mountain roads.
Getting away from a solid rear axle and replacing it with an independent suspension allows a lower center of gravity. In the case of the Expedition, it also gave Ford engineers the ability to lower the rear floor so that the third-row seat is more comfortable.
Looking at the interior brings a whole new appreciation to the
Expedition. The dash and instrument panel are redesigned to be better at offering a stylish way of locating switches and gauges so driver and front passenger have easy access. The two-tone dash has round, brushed-chrome air vent outlets that accentuate the interior, adding a sporty touch.
One of the shortfalls I noticed during my drive, however, was that the four-wheel-drive switch and driver's information switches are hidden from view when the column-mounted shifter is moved into the drive position. This was problematic and needs to be addressed.
Really cool designs in the rear seats, both second and third rows, make having to transport extra passengers much easier.
The rear seat is spilt into three sections. The middle section, equipped with latch child-seat anchors, has the ability to move forward nearly 11 inches. This brings a child seated safely in the rear seat into a parent's easy reach. Anyone who has ever struggled with assisting a child in the rear seat will rejoice at this innovation.
The second-row seats easily fold and tumble forward to allow easy entry and exit in the third-row seat. This third seat easily folds flat to offer additional storage. And if you are one who may use this feature a great deal, I recommend the optional power seat. From the dual power switches, you can lower one or both sides of this 50/50 split seat in quick fashion.
The new Expedition is quieter, smoother and more comfortable. It is also just as capable as the version it replaces. It makes substantial changes to the full-size sport utility market.
I am sure with its introduction there will be a lot of used sport utility vehicles on used-car lots around the country.
Because owners will, no doubt, be rushing to upgrade to the 2003 Expedition.

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