Standing alongside a Ford Expedition, the only words that come to mind are: "That's big." If it's the costly King Ranch edition, one is tempted to add: "That's excessive."
Outfitted with saddle-like leather that looks like it's ready for a Texas trail, the King Rance Expedition tops the list of Ford's full-size SUVs, now that the bigger-yet Excursion is facing extinction. Out back, second-row occupants face a pair of mini-saddle bags that can hold headphones for the optional rear-seat video entertainment system.
All this excess doesn't come cheap, of course. With four-wheel drive and the 5.4-liter V-8, the seven-passenger Expedition King Ranch edition stickers for $45,240 (plus $820 destination charge). Add an optional reverse sensing system, captain's chairs, moonroof and rear-seat entertainment, plus AdvanceTrac stability enhancement and a Safety Canopy setup, and the tariff easily whizzes past the $50,000 mark. The cheapest Expedition, a two-wheel-drive XLS, goes for a total of $33,480.
Even a non-fan of large SUVs has to admit that the Expedition is an easy, and fairly friendly, vehicle to drive. Climbing aboard demands a rather high step up; but once there, a satisfying road experience awaits.
Until you have to head off the trail into a filling station, that is, when the bountiful thirst of the 5.4-liter V-8 has to be satiated. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates fuel economy for the 5.4-liter engine at 14-mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway, but don't be surprised if you fall significantly short of those figures.
Except for a typical truck drone, the Expedition is reasonably quiet on the road. Ride quality is easily tolerable, too, even in city driving.
Instruments are calibrated somewhat strangely, and not the easiest to read at a glance. Naturally, you get tons of passenger space within the Expedition, compared to Ford's next largest SUV - the Explorer.
Large sport-utiliity vehicles aren't doing so well these days, as gasoline prices reach $3.00 per gallon and beyond. According to Automotive News, sales dropped by almost 21 percent in the first quarter of 2006. On the other hand, Chevrolet's newly redesigned Tahoe is faring strongly in the sales race. So, the big American-made SUVs can't quite be counted out yet.