Full-size sport utilities are some of the largest vehicles on the road. Their massive size translates into both expansive passenger accommodations and excellent utility when it comes to towing and hauling. Most of these SUVs also feature strong off-road prowess thanks to their strong chassis and low-range four-wheel drive systems. Based on truck platforms, domestic SUVs typically also benefit from the intense amount of research and development that automakers lavish on the very competitive full-size pickup market.
Full-size sport-utility vehicles also have their weaknesses. Their ponderous size and a heavy curb weight require large engines to keep them moving at a reasonable pace, and when taken together that spells doom for fuel economy ratings - especially in stop and go city driving. These large vehicles also do not handle or stop as well as smaller SUVs or crossover vehicles, part of the legacy handed down from pickup platforms more concerned with strength than agility. This translates into a less settled, less comfortable ride than the standard minivan or family sedan, although modern technologies have started to chip away at that reality.
Ford has been blessed with some of the best full-size pickups in the business, and this means that their sport-utility vehicles can take advantage of the excellent range of engines, chassis and configurations available through the F-150 and Super Duty programs. Ford has been exploiting the F-150 in SUV form for decades, beginning with the big-body Ford Bronco in the late 1970's, a vehicle which was sold until 1996 and which found a special place in the off-road community due to its short wheelbase and excellent power.
While the Bronco might be gone, a group of new large SUVs bearing the Ford badge have sprung up to take its place. In the past few years Ford has offered sport-utility vehicles spanning the entire size spectrum, with some truly enormous trucks to be found at the high end. The company became caught up in the race to build the biggest, baddest SUV just after the turn of the millennium, and the result were some of the largest vehicles ever to tread on a public highway.
This article discusses the features and capabilities of two of the best used full-size Ford sport-utility vehicles currently populating dealer lots across the United States. These trucks represent impressive levels of power and capacity when it comes to previously-owned vehicles.
2003 - 2006 Ford Expedition
Initially built on the same chassis as the Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck, the Expedition moved onto a newer, more refined platform for its second generation. This helped to improve the vehicle's ride comfort as well as its maneuverability, with little or no impact on its excellent towing capacity. On the outside, the Expedition still bears the same family resemblance to its pickup cousin, with extra body cladding and attractive optional running boards which help to give it a slightly different but still solid attitude.
The Expedition can be had with one of two V-8 engines. The first is Ford's trusty 4.6-liter modular unit, which produces 232 horsepower when installed in the full-size SUV. One step up is a 5.4-liter V-8 which makes 260 horsepower, with a bump up to 300 in the 2005 and 2006 model years. Both engines use the same 4-speed automatic transmission, and contribute to the Expedition's considerable hauling talents - the SUV can tow up to 8,300 lbs. This is in addition to the 110 cubic feet of cargo space that the vehicle offers when all three rows of seating are folded and stowed.
In addition to the excellent storage space, the interior of the Expedition is impressive in other ways as well. The third row of seats disappears flat into the floor with one-touch button operation, eliminating the need to struggle with a heavy bench. The seat can even be folded down in two parts, split 60 / 40, making it great for squeezing in extra groceries without giving up too much passenger room. In general, the Expedition is comfortable for all occupants, even those stranded all the way at the back. Leather is available, but the standard seat cloth is top notch.
The 2003 - 2006 Ford Expedition provides great power and towing capacity combined with a generous passenger compartment to make it a true competitor on the used full-size SUV market.
2000 - 2006 Ford Excursion
Upon seeing the Excursion for the first time, many people are shocked by its sheer bulk. The nightmare proportions of this ultra plus-sized sport-utility vehicle can be intimidating to some buyers but makes others salivate with the prospect of being able to fill it to the brim with passengers, gear and equipment. The Ford Excursion is definitely targeted towards a specific audience, and it is unapologetic about being big and brash.
To those who are attracted to the 2000 - 2006 Ford Excursion's solid good looks, a treasure trove of usefulness awaits. With similar architecture to the Ford F-250 pickup truck, the Excursion is a towing monster, capable of pulling 11,000 lbs without breaking a sweat. Buyers would do well to stay away from the relatively weak standard V-8 version of the Excursion and instead look for one powered by either the 310 horsepower V-10, which makes 425 lb-ft of torque, or the 325 horsepower turbo-diesel V-8 engine, which adds an additional 100 lb-ft to the equation. The gasoline powered motor comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the diesel drinker makes do with a 5-speed auto.
The 2000 - 2006 Excursion's enormous dimensions provide driver and passengers with an interior which is best described as cavernous. Indeed, with the last two rows of seating removed the gaping maw of the Excursion almost resembles an aircraft hangar, with 146 cubic feet of room stretched out over an almost 6-foot long area. The Excursion is perfect for anyone who regularly needs to transport a wide variety of cargo but who also wants the flexibility to fill up with passengers that the Super Duty pickups just don't provide.
The 2000 - 2006 Ford Excursion is huge, bold, and not for everyone. However, it is the most capable used full-size SUV from Ford available, and definitely worthy of a look from anyone with king-sized cargo needs.