What's New for 1998
After allowing GM to dominate the full-size SUV arena for years, Ford introduced a vehicle in 1997 that had its sights squarely aimed at the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. Ford boasts that its Expedition is superior to the GM full-size sport-utes in every way. We had the chance to drive many of these brute-utes this year, and here is what we found out.
Larger than the Tahoe and Yukon, the Expedition can seat nine people with its optional third-row bench seat; the Tahoe and Yukon can only seat six. Unlike the Suburban, which may have difficulty fitting into a standard garage, the Expedition can be handled easier in most parking maneuvers. The Expedition also has the best payload and towing capacity in its class: 2,000 lbs. and 8000 lbs., respectively.
On the road, the Expedition is well mannered. It's obvious that this is not a car, but compared to the vehicle it replaces, the Expedition rides like a limousine. Interior ergonomics are first rate and will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in the new F-150. From the front seat forward, the Expedition is nearly identical to the new pickup. That's a good thing: we love the cab of the 1997 F-150 with its easy-to-use climate and stereo controls, steering-wheel-mounted cruise control, plenty of cupholders and great storage space.
Ford has put a lot of time and money into making this truck the next sales leader in their already dominant light-truck lineup. We came away impressed and think you will too. The Expedition comes standard with dual airbags (a first in this segment), antilock brakes and fold-flat second row seats - features that we feel are important in this increasingly competitive segment. Our few gripes stem from the powertrain. After driving a few Vortec-powered Suburbans this year, we've become spoiled by the GM engine's gobs of torque and horsepower. The Expedition's power output won't be confused with a Chevy Tracker, but it did leave us wondering if we could squeeze one of GM's 5.7-liter powerhouses into the engine bay. One option that we think everyone should investigate is the lighted running boards. The Expedition towers above the ground, and entering and exiting this truck will take its toll on most passengers after a few days.
We've seen many of these monsters turning up in our neighborhood and after driving the Expedition ourselves we know why. If you're thinking of buying a full-size SUV in the near future, you owe it to yourself to take a look at this truck.