- Big, comfortable, and easy to drive. Good off-road, too.
- If you can reduce your seating needs by one (from nine to eight) the Dodge Durango is less expensive and easier to maneuver.
Power output is improved for both Triton V8 engines on Ford's full-size sport-ute. Package content is added for both XLT and Eddie Bauer trim levels. Power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals have been added. An updated Command Trac four-wheel-drive system allows automatic four-wheel-drive operation when required. Spruce Green, Harvest Gold, Tropic Green and Deep Wedgewood Blue replace Light Prairie Tan, Vermont Green, Light Denim Blue and Pacific Green on the color chart.
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, GMC Yukon, and the Suburban sold at both Chevy and GMC dealerships. 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 since its introduction, 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 accommodated in most residential garages. 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 old Bronco, the Expedition rides like a limousine. Interior ergonomics are first rate and will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in the current 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 new 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, 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. Ford has boosted output for both the 4.6 and 5.4-liter engines, making them somewhat more competitive against the awesome Vortec powerplants found in GM's full-size trucks. 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.
Ford has shuffled several of the packages on the 1999 Expedition, and has added a number of features to the standard equipment lists of the Eddie Bauer and XLT. Ford has rolled the contents of the former Popular Equipment Group into the Comfort and Convenience Group. The group now includes 16-inch wheels, privacy glass, removable fold-flat third seat, and captain's chairs with floor console.
The Ford Expedition is a nice balance between comfort and function, and its ability to seat nine people makes it popular with large families and those who have to haul stuff around. Nevertheless, we can't overlook the new Dodge Durango and the outstanding Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon when discussing big trucks. In the last few years, the mid- and full-size sport-ute market has gotten very competitive and the choices are much more difficult to make.