2006 Ford Expedition review
Well-thought-out interior with plenty of room for passengers and their belongings, handy fold-flat third-row seat, impressive handling for its size, great crash test scores.
Poor fuel economy, V8 needs more low-end torque, some low-grade interior materials, ride gets harsh on rough roads.
What's New for 2006
The King Ranch receives a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe, and the Limited's wood steering wheel moves to the options list.
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. For 2003, the Expedition was completely redesigned. Bigger, more comfortable, more refined and easier to drive, the redesigned Expedition competes favorably with the SUVs from General Motors, Nissan and Toyota, offering family-friendly features and creature comforts not found in competing vehicles. There is plenty to like about the super-sized SUV from Ford, and those shopping for such a vehicle will certainly want to take it under consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
Six trim levels are available: XLS, XLT, XLT Sport, Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch. The base XLS model is decently equipped with a front bench seat, a CD player, air conditioning, a third-row seat, automatic headlamps and full power accessories. The XLT offers a few more comforts, including running boards and a rear air conditioner, while opening up all the desirable options. The XLT Sport version adds tubular step bars, Shadow Gray exterior trim and a revised grille. Those seeking even more features can choose the Eddie Bauer model with leather upholstery (optional on XLT models), automatic climate control, memory seat controls and an in-dash six-disc CD changer. The Limited adds unique wheels and exterior trim, eight-way power front seats with heating and cooling, and plenty of wood trim. The King Ranch package includes unique interior and exterior trim, higher-grade leather seating, wood interior trim and upgraded alloy wheels. Options include a load-leveling air suspension, second-row captain's chairs, a CD-based navigation system, a rear DVD entertainment system, a power-folding third-row seat and tire-pressure monitoring.
Powertrains and Performance:
All Expeditions come standard with a 5.4-liter V8 that makes 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Although a little sluggish down low, this engine is extremely smooth, quiet and rich in midrange torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line; all trims are available with either two- or four-wheel drive. A heavy-duty rear differential gives the Expedition a maximum tow rating of 8,900 pounds.
The Expedition received double five-star ratings in front crash tests performed by the NHTSA. All Expeditions come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes enhanced with Electronic BrakeAssist and Brakeforce Distribution. Optional safety systems include a tire-pressure monitor system, side- and head-impact protection for first- and second-row passengers and the AdvanceTrac stability control system with Roll Stability Control for added protection against rollover accidents.
Interior Design and Special Features:
Expeditions seat anywhere from seven to nine passengers, depending on whether you go with captain's chairs or bench seats. Sticking with the 40/20/40 second-row bench seat will allow you to scoot the middle section forward for easier access to a little one. The Expedition's 60/40 third-row seat is one of the more comfortable in the full-size SUV class and it folds flat with a quick and easy release handle.
The Expedition's fully independent suspension and rack and pinion steering system provide solid handling for a vehicle of its size. It still feels like a big SUV, but the steering is nicely weighted and body roll is well controlled around turns. The ride can be a tad harsh on rough roads, but overall, it's a comfortable cruiser. The torquey V8s from Nissan and GM still have the 5.4-liter beat when it comes to power, but Ford's V8 is tops in refinement.
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