A few months back, in one of our inexplicable drives to create more work for ourselves, we tossed around the idea of comparing the latest full-size sport-utilities, namely the Ford Expedition, the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Toyota Sequoia. The problem was, as good as it looked on paper, our previous experience with the vehicles led to one obvious conclusion: We were looking at a two-horse race.
As comparable as the Expedition was in terms of size, price and features, its sloppy suspension, vague steering and lackluster engine were sure to leave it trailing in the dust of the more powerful Tahoe and ultra-smooth Sequoia. In order to compete, the Expedition needed help. Thankfully, no one knew this more than Ford.
The relatively unchanged look of the 2003 Expedition hides the fact that nearly everything underneath is new. Significant enhancements to the frame, suspension, steering and brakes elevate the Expedition's driving dynamics to 21st-century standards, while numerous refinements and innovations in the cabin result in a more attractive and functional overall package. We'll reserve final judgment until we complete a full road test, but our introductory drive left us with the impression that the Expedition is now well equipped to compete favorably with anything in its class.
Addressing the previous version's wobbly ride meant more than just adding stiffer springs and retuning the shocks a little. In this case, Ford used an all-new frame that's significantly stiffer than before along with a fully independent suspension to give the Expedition much improved handling dynamics. We pushed the hulking sport-ute harder than most drivers would ever care to and found it to be extremely stable during hard cornering. The stiffer structure doesn't translate into a harsh ride, however, as the Expedition smothers potholes and road hazards with little intrusion into the cabin. In fact, between the tighter overall feel and the quieter cabin, the Expedition conveys a sense of refinement rivaled only by Toyota's Sequoia.
An all-new rack-and-pinion steering system replaces what was one of the numbest, most detached setups we've ever driven, so to declare that it's a major improvement almost goes without saying. Variable power assistance gives the truck solid road feel at all speeds and a shorter turning radius helps with maneuverability in tight spaces.
Larger, more capable brakes enhanced with an electronic Brake Assist feature are another welcome improvement for '03. Brake Assist senses a panic stop and helps apply full pressure more quickly for shorter stopping distances. Head-up driving kept us from having to invoke this important safety feature, but we did give the new binders a thorough workout while descending a steep mountain grade. Fade was minimal, pedal feel was much improved and except for one extremely steep section that required full effort, there was always plenty of power in reserve.
Unfortunately, we can't bestow similar praise on the powertrain, as the Expedition carries over both the 4.6- and 5.4-liter V8 engines from last year's models. Both powerplants received numerous enhancements geared toward quieter operation and more usable torque, but from our seat-of-the-pants perspective, the Expedition still lacks the punch of GM's V8s and the refinement of Toyota's iForce eight-cylinder. The maximum tow rating on 5.4-liter-equipped Expeditions has increased to a class-leading 8,900 pounds, but considering how easily it runs out of breath with just two people aboard, we wouldn't characterize the Expedition as our first choice for a tow vehicle.
Both two- and four-wheel-drive versions will still be available, with the latter getting a revised version of Ford's Control Trac four-wheel-drive system as standard equipment. In response to customer demand, this system now offers a two-wheel-drive mode that completely disconnects the front wheels at the hubs for better mileage and less driveline wear. For serious offroad duty, a new FX4 option package adds underbody skid plates, specially tuned shocks, steel wheels, a limited-slip rear axle and all-terrain tires.
Another new feature that's optional on top-of-the-line Eddie Bauer models and FX4-equipped XLTs is the AdvanceTrac stability and traction control system. Functioning as a type of electronic differential, the AdvanceTrac uses electronic braking to actively distribute power where it's needed most. We sampled the system on both a muddy forest trail and a snow-covered mountain road and found that it provided exceptional traction without feeling overly intrusive. The AdvanceTrac system also helps to maintain vehicle stability on perfectly paved surfaces, again using the brakes to help restore stability should the vehicle lose control during an abrupt maneuver.
Although much of the Expedition's overhaul took place under the skin, a revamped interior that adds numerous class-exclusive features gives the Expedition a fresh new look and improved family-friendliness.
The design team's intense focus on proper ergonomics resulted in a no-nonsense layout that places nearly every control within easy reach of the driver. The two-tone color scheme looks great in the decked-out Eddie Bauer models, but the lower level XLT trim can look a bit dour draped in multiple shades of gray. Most of the interior materials look and feel good, but a few of the door panels still look cheap compared to the Sequoia. If you've ever ridden in Audi's TT coupe, you'll instantly recognize the Expedition's identical vent design, a good steal in our minds, since they're as functional as they are good looking.
Interior space up front remains largely the same, although a redesigned center console and larger door pockets provide more storage than before. The Expedition remains the only full-size SUV to offer adjustable pedals that help drivers of all sizes maintain a comfortable and safe driving position. A CD-based navigation system is a new option for 2003, another first in its class. The screen is placed high in the dash for easy viewing, and we found the controls simple to use, but we're a little disappointed that Ford didn't opt for a more advanced DVD-based system, as those systems typically provide more detailed maps and only require a single disc to cover the entire country.
Second-row accommodations remain spacious, with plenty of room for three adults to ride comfortably. Buyers can also opt for captain's chairs in the second row that drops seating capacity to seven, but affords more room in the middle row and easier access to the rearmost seats. The Expedition's new independent rear suspension not only provides a much smoother ride, it also makes way for more room in the third row. Ford claims best-in-class leg- and hiproom, and, after a quick stint on the 60/40-split bench, we would have to agree that it's one of the more comfortable third-row seats available. The Expedition also offers best-in-class cargo space thanks to second- and third-row seats that fold completely flat, another one of the Expedition's exclusive new features.
More innovations come in the way of the optional Safety Canopy side-curtain airbag system that not only provides protection in the event of a side-impact collision, it also includes a segment-exclusive rollover protection system. If the vehicle's sensors detect an imminent rollover, the airbag curtain will remain inflated for up to 6 seconds to help protect passengers who may get thrown about the cabin. Ford's Personal Safety System provides frontal impact protection for the driver and front passenger through the use of dual-stage airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and seat-track sensors that match airbag deployment to driver size and crash severity.
The list of improvements goes on and on, but by now you probably get the picture. Ford claims that the Expedition is better in every way, and our initial test drive seemed to verify the company's assertions. It's not going to knock your socks off with its power, but it will certainly coddle you and your family with its refined ride, quiet interior and numerous features. Add in the advanced safety equipment, best-in-class passenger space and extremely capable four-wheel-drive system and the Expedition makes a strong case for itself as the best full-size sport-ute on the market.
Looks like we had better put that plan for a comparison test back on the schedule, 'cause that two-horse runaway now looks more like a three-horse photo finish -- just the way we like it.
2003 Ford Expedition Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2003 Ford Expedition and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2003 Expedition featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2003 Ford Expedition and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2003 Expedition 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2003 Expedition.
Review Truck has over 220,000 miles on it, only thing major replaced is the fuel pump, the windshield... 3 times, and a few batteries. Runs like a champ, has a weird issue with the mirror adjusting to an unknown position when unlocked with wireless remote and driver power lock went out at 180k.
Edmunds Value Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Available Ford Expedition 2003 Submodel Types: SUV
Available Trims: XLT, Limited, EL Limited, EL XLT, Eddie Bauer, EL Platinum, Platinum, King Ranch, EL King Ranch, EL Eddie Bauer, XL Fleet, XLT Popular, EL XL, MAX Platinum, XL, XLS, XLT Sport
Exterior Colors: Shadow Black, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Magnetic, Tuxedo Black Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Oxford White, Oxford White Clearcoat, Blue Jeans, Black Clearcoat, White Platinum Tri-Coat Metallic, Ingot Silver, Medium Wedgewood Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Redfire Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic, Bronze Fire, Black, Sterling Gray Metallic, White Sand Tri-Coat Metallic, Ingot Silver Metallic, Red Fire Clearcoat Metallic, Silver Birch Clearcoat Metallic, Aspen Green Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Grey Metallic, White Gold Metallic, White Platinum Tri-Coat Metallic/Pale Adobe Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Blue Jeans Metallic/Pale Adobe Metallic, Carbon Clearcoat Metallic, Estate Green Clearcoat Metallic, Pueblo Gold Clearcoat Metallic, Royal Red Clearcoat Metallic, Green Gem, Vapor Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Golden Bronze Metallic Clearcoat/Pale Adobe Clearcoat Metallic, Green Gem Metallic, Laser Red Tinted Clearcoat, Tuxedo Black Metallic/Pale Adobe Metallic, Autumn Red Clearcoat Metallic/Pale Adobe Clearcoat Metallic, Autumn Red Metallic/Pale Adobe Metallic, Blue Jeans Metallic, Bronze Fire Metallic, Cashmere Tri-Coat Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic/Pale Adobe Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Copper Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Copper Clearcoat Metallic (Late Availability), Dark Shadow Grey Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Stone Clearcoat Metallic, Deep Wedgewood Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Green Gem Metallic/Pale Adobe Clearcoat Metallic, Kodiak Brown Metallic, Kodiak Brown Metallic/Pale Adobe Metallic, Magnetic Metallic, Pewter Clearcoat Metallic (Late Availability), Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Spruce Green Clearcoat Metallic, Stone Green Clearcoat Metallic, Tropic Green Clearcoat Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat/Caribou
Interior Colors: Ebony leather, Dune leather, Ebony premium leather, Charcoal Black premium leather, Medium Parchment, Camel leather, Stone premium leather, Mesa Brown w/Ebony leather, Stone leather, Ebony cloth, Medium Parchment leather, Camel cloth, Charcoal Black leather, Medium Flint Grey , Stone cloth, Charcoal Black w/Camel Accent leather, Medium Flint Grey vinyl, Black, Camel premium leather, Chaparral premium leather, Charcoal Black w/King Ranch Red premium leather, Medium Flint Grey, Medium Parchment cloth, Charcoal Black w/Silver Smoke Inserts premium leather, Flint Grey, Medium Flint Grey cloth, Medium Flint Grey (Late Availability) leather, Medium Prairie Tan
Popular Features: Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Towing Hitch, Power Driver Seat, Third-row seating, Tire Pressure Warning, AWD/4WD, Alarm, Stability Control, Trip Computer, Aux Audio Inputs, Auto Climate Control, Parking sensors, Post-collision safety system, Bluetooth, Back-up camera, Leather Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, USB Inputs, 8000lb Towing Capacity, Cooled Seats, Heated seats, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Remote Start, 10,000lb+ Towing Capacity, Sunroof/Moonroof, Navigation, Blind Spot Monitoring, 2nd Row Bucket Seats, Pre-collision safety system, 6000lb Towing Capacity, Rear Entertainment System, 5000lb Towing Capacity, Upgraded Stereo, 360-degree camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Automatic Emergency Braking, Keyless Entry/Start, Lane Departure Warning, Mobile Internet, Upgraded Headlights