The Eddie Bauer theme carries around the side of the Expedition, with big contrasting colored rocker panels that visually connect the front and rear bumpers. Light rocker panels and a dark upper body lifts the look of Expedition off of the road, making it appear even taller than its 77.1" height. A level beltline stretches all the way around the vehicle, making the back glass a useful size and unifying the tailgate with the body of the Expedition. A swath of chrome focuses the eye on the middle of the tailgate, pulling attention away from the blacked-out rear pillars. All in all, a clean, assertive design that will appeal to the faithful and raise the ire of BIG SUV haters everywhere.
In the Driver's Seat
I can't help myself -- I have to rail against the fake wood. I've run out of ways to hate plastic wood. I can only scream silently at the sight and touch of it. Most egregiously, Ford wraps the gear shift lever in the center console with the stuff, forcing you to touch fake wood every time you drive the Expedition. They may be able to fool your eyes, but they can never fool your hands -- it feels wrong.
Let's get back to the good stuff. Expedition's seats are really nice, covered in a thick durable leather, and accented with light-colored inserts and highlight stitching. It's a treatment that's reminiscent of the paint job on the exterior, and very attractive throughout the vehicle.
Expedition's dash is simple, straightforward and attractive in its symmetry. Round air vents anchor the design, and round gauges cluster above the steering wheel under a modest eyebrow. The center stack is neatly arrayed, with a big screen that comes as part of the $1,995 Navigation system option dominating. Buttons and knobs are smartly displayed, but maybe a little too similar in size and placement to facilitate operation without distraction.
On the Road
It takes a lot of engine to move a BIG SUV, and Expedition has got 5.4 liters of V8 under the hood to handle the job. Rated to produce 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, the single-overhead cam design sends power to the wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The four-wheel drive system is controlled with a rotary dial on the dash.
Safety features abound on the Expedition, which is great considering its purpose as a family hauler. Four wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, a three row safety canopy, side airbags and excellent front and rear crash ratings should make you feel much more secure behind the wheel. Four wheel independent suspension and power rack and pinion steering help Expedition handle well for a BIG SUV -- don't get overconfident, though. Expedition's center of gravity is still quite high, and you don't want to tempt the Fates with overly aggressive cornering or lane changes. You don't have to drive Expedition like a land barge, but don't drive it like a catamaran either.
There are other BIG SUVs on the market to consider. Check out the Jeep Commander, the biggest Jeep ever made. It rides on the same platform as the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen. The Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon/Cadillac Escalade lineup underwent a major overhaul for 2007, and I really like the performance of those vehicles. Don't overlook the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada and their upscale relatives, the Lexus LX 470 and Infiniti QX56. The Japanese do BIG SUVs remarkably well.
You should also take a look at the next size down -- the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder -- to see if you could possibly live with a not-so-BIG SUV before you commit to the Expedition. Your pocketbook and the environment will thank you.