2003 Ford Expedition Review

Pros & Cons

  • Excellent interior design and comfort, wide-ranging versatility, impressive hauling capabilities, improved handling abilities, great crash test scores.
  • Slow when loaded down, drives as big as it looks, stability control only available on high-line models.
List Price Range
$2,499 - $5,000

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The all-new 2003 Expedition looks to be class leader in the large SUV segment.

Vehicle overview

A general sense of dissatisfaction spread over Fordland in the mid-'90s when it realized that GM held a monopoly on full-size SUVs with its Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. With SUV sales booming and consumer trends pointing toward a desire for bigger and more powerful vehicles capable of hauling as many as nine passengers or more than 100 cubic feet of cargo, Ford found itself without a competitive edge in a hot market niche. When the redesigned F-Series pickup debuted for 1997, Ford engineered a proper large SUV on its platform. The Expedition was introduced with much fanfare that same year, finding favor among buyers whose only other choices were GM SUVs built on the decade-old C/K pickup frame. The Expedition was stiffer, powered by more modern overhead cam engines, and sized to slot nicely between the SUV twins from Chevrolet and GMC. Instantly popular, the Expedition became one of Ford's hottest sellers. But when GM redesigned the Silverado and Sierra pickups for 1999, new Tahoes, Yukons and Suburbans were also released into the marketplace. The revamped Chevys and GMCs could all carry nine, and as an added benefit, the rearmost seats in the Tahoe and Yukon were easier to remove because they were split and lighter in weight. Additionally, the GM pushrod V8 engines were tweaked for more power and refinement, and were worlds ahead of the comparatively weak Ford power plants. Then Toyota entered the fray with the eight-passenger Sequoia SUV, powered by a creamy-smooth, Lexus-sourced 4.7-liter V8 engine. Based on the Tundra pickup, the Sequoia wore a sticker with a price premium, but consumers wanted that virtual guarantee of reliability that comes along with the Toyota nameplate, and they lined up to buy the hulking new SUV. Shortly after the debut of the Tundra, Expedition sales were propped up with lease subsidies and rebates. Special-edition trim packages were also offered to spawn interest. It was, at just four years of age, the oldest design in its segment. But Ford was already hard at work on creating a replacement. The 2003 Expedition is almost entirely new, carrying over only parts that the buyer cannot see. Bigger, more comfortable, more refined and easier to drive, the redesigned Expedition competes favorably with the SUVs from General Motors and Toyota, offering creature comforts not found in competing vehicles. If the new Expedition has an Achilles' heel, it is that the powertrains are virtually carried over from the previous model with no power upgrades. Still, there is plenty to like about the new super-sized SUV from Ford, and those shopping for such a vehicle will certainly want to take it under consideration.

2003 Ford Expedition models

Four trim levels are available. The base model, the XLT Value is your basic, no-frills workhorse that comes with a CD player, air conditioning, a flip-up rear hatch window and power-adjustable pedals. The Popular package will add running boards, rear-seat climate controls and auto-dimming mirrors. Step up to the Premium package to get power seats covered in leather and a floor console. To go hog wild, choose the Eddie Bauer package with a trip computer, automatic climate control, a reverse sensing system and an in-dash six-disc CD changer. Most of these items are available as stand-alone options. Other goodies include a CD-based navigation system, DVD entertainment system, a power fold third-row seat, heated-cooled front seats and tire-pressure monitors. All four of these trim levels can be had with the 4.6-liter or 5.4-liter power plants, whose power can be delivered to the two front or all four wheels.

2003 Highlights

Ford's full-size SUV sports changes inside and out. Outside, the Expedition looks bigger and bolder. Some of its new styling cues, such as the egg-crate grille and raised hood, are from its little brother, the Explorer. Inside you'll find fold-flat second- and third-row seats, with a power-folding option for the third row. The second row is split-40/20/40 enabling the middle section to slide forward. The Eddie Bauer package has an in-dash six-disc changer (optional on the XLT) and steering wheel-mounted stereo and climate controls, as well as an optional DVD player, navigation system and heated-cooled seats. But the big changes are the ones you can't readily see. Underneath the skin a double-wishbone independent rear suspension system and a rack and pinion steering configuration improve road handling. AdvanceTrac stability control, along with ControlTrac four-wheel-drive system and an increased width of 1.7 inches should help keep the rubber down and the shiny side up.

Performance & mpg

The Expedition's standard 4.6-liter V8 makes 232 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. Step up to the bigger 5.4-liter mill, and you'll be rewarded with 260 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Numerous refinements for 2003 render both engines extremely smooth and quiet, but they still lack the punch of GM's more powerful Vortec V8s. A four-speed automatic continues as the sole transmission. A heavy-duty rear differential gives the Expedition a maximum tow rating of 8,900 pounds, the highest in its class.


Last year's Expedition received double five-star ratings in front crash tests, so we expect that this year's will score the same. All Expedition's come standard with four-wheel ABS-equipped disc brakes enhanced with Electronic BrakeAssist and Brakeforce Distribution. Optional safety systems include a tire-pressure monitor system, and a class-exclusive Safety Canopy System that provides side- and head-impact protection for both the first- and second-row passengers. Eddie Bauer and FX4 models also offer the AdvanceTrac stability and traction control system.


The all-new independent suspension and rack and pinion steering system have dramatically improved the Expedition's handling dynamics. It still feels like a big SUV, but the excessive body roll and numb steering of last year's model are gone. The stiffer frame and body shell combined with the reworked suspension and reduced noise levels makes this Expedition a very comfortable cruiser. The 5.4-liter engine still lacks punch, but noise and vibration levels are down there, too, so at least it feels more refined underfoot. It's not as nimble as the Sequoia or as fast as the Tahoe, but it's smooth, quiet and capable enough to make a great family vehicle.


You can choose to equip your Expedition with second-row captain's chairs, which will seat eight or the bench seat to accommodate nine. Choosing the bench seat will allow you to scoot the middle section forward due to the 40/20/40-split configuration design. Most of the gee-whiz features, like the power-folding third-row seat and the entertainment and navigation systems, are available on the Premium trim and Eddie Bauer edition only, but getting either of those is a lot more economical than springing for a Lincoln Navigator.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Ford Expedition.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

I Think It Willl Run Forever
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.
Bought my expedition new in 2003. Its been the best truck i ever had!! Barr None. I have 272,000 miles on it. No engine or transmission problems what so ever. The alternator went out at 150,000. Ive put several sets of tires on and a few batteries. I change the oil every 4,000 miles, and a tune-up every 125,000 or so. We pull our boat with it like theres nothing behind us. We lay down the seats and camp in the back. we've hauled stuff in the back countless times, Thank god for all the room of our full size Suv. I rented a tahoe for a week while on vacation , with 25,000 on it. What a piece of Crap. like driving a tank.
I'm Jappy
David Hylton,10/14/2015
XLT Value 4WD 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A)
I bought a 2003 with 70,000 on it in 2014. I was going to get a brand new vehicle but this was to good of a deal to pass up because it was a 1 owner vehicle and was literally in new condition. I hadn't had the vehicle for 2 weeks when a drunk driver rear ended me while I was sitting at a red light with my 3 year old and 10 year old kids in the car. Drunk was doing 45mph and the impact was tremendous. He was driving a full size Chevy truck and it was completely totaled. Expedition had 1000 dollars in damage. Not only was I amazed but the police and firefighters couldn't believe it. This thing is a tank! Mpg is awful but I knew this before I bought it so no surprise there. It rides good and no problems at all. I did change the serpentine belt just as a precaution due to its age. I'm very happy with this vehicle and the 3rd row seats that fold into the floor are a huge plus.
Average as Usual
Another Ford Owner,03/20/2006
Very nice design but I learned never to purchase the first year after a remodel. Have had several things replaced that I would not expect to have replaced on a new vehicle. Dealer is so-so with their support. Would not replace the brake pads, but they replace the rotors once and resurfaced the rotors the second time. The problem was with the pads and after 25,000 miles, I replace the rotors and pads with Brembo rotors and ceramic pads. What a change. The brake dust is gone. Repaired a short in the system, front headlight seal was bad, replaced the steering wheel due to poor leather, the front seat replaced due to the wear of the leather. All in all, will trade in for a new one.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2003 Ford Expedition
More About This Model

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.

Used 2003 Ford Expedition Overview

The Used 2003 Ford Expedition is offered in the following submodels: Expedition SUV. Available styles include XLT Value Rwd 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), XLT Popular 4WD 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A), Eddie Bauer 4WD 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A), Eddie Bauer Rwd 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A), XLT Premium 4WD 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A), XLT Popular 4WD 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), XLT Popular Rwd 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A), XLT Premium 4WD 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), Eddie Bauer Rwd 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), XLT Popular Rwd 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), XLT Premium Rwd 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A), XLT Value 4WD 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), XLT Premium Rwd 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 4A), and XLT FX4 4WD 4dr SUV (5.4L 8cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Ford Expedition?

Price comparisons for Used 2003 Ford Expedition trim styles:

  • The Used 2003 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer is priced between $2,499 and$2,499 with odometer readings between 288454 and288454 miles.

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Which used 2003 Ford Expeditions are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Ford Expedition for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2003 Expeditions listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $2,499 and mileage as low as 94254 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Ford Expedition.

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Find a used Ford Expedition for sale - 12 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $8,279.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Ford Expedition for sale - 2 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $21,641.

Find a used certified pre-owned Ford for sale - 7 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $9,924.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 Ford Expedition?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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