First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
2007 Ford Expedition. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Portland, Oregon – With gas prices at an all-time high, it’s not surprising that the full-size SUV market in Canada is shrinking – it shrunk 22% from 2004 to 2005 and is expected to shrink more this year – but according to Ford, there is still a substantial niche market of people who want full-size SUVs with three rows of seating, 4X4 capability, and a strong towing capacity.

Ford’s own surveys show that 80% of Expedition owners transport three or more passengers behind the first row of seats, 68% tow trailers, and 90% use their Expeditions to go on vacations. For these people, the cost of gasoline is the price they pay to have one vehicle that can do all these things.

Still, it’s a bit surprising that Ford hasn’t revealed any plans for a hybrid Expedition, or a V8 engine with cylinder deactivation (runs on four cylinders when cruising), or an E85 model, or even a diesel engine – General Motors already has cylinder deactivation and E85 capability in their new Tahoe and Yukon, and a ‘Two-mode hybrid’ model is coming in 2007.

But my guess is that Expedition buyers aren’t too concerned about fuel economy.

First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
2007 Ford Expedition. Click image to enlarge

What they want is power to haul, and lots of interior room – both passenger and cargo room. Which is probably why Ford introduced the new extended length Expedition Max. Its 131-inch wheelbase (3330 mm) is 12 inches (300 mm) longer than the regular Expedition’s. The Expedition Max has 24 cubic feet (680 litres) more cargo space behind the third row seats (for a total of 42.6 cu.ft.). The roomy new Max goes head to head with the venerable Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon XL.

By the way, the Expedition Max is called the Expedition EL (extended length) in the United States. That name was unavailable in Canada due to a name conflict with the Canada-only Acura EL.

The most obvious change to the standard 2007 Expedition and 2007 Expedition Max is the bold new ‘truck-like’ styling. Prominent horizontal grille bars and a taller ‘powerdome’ hood give the Expedition a chunky, ‘macho’ appearance. The headlight covers now have a drop-down design and the amber turn signals are now located under the headlamps rather than beside them. The interior too, has a bolder, chunkier look. A new upright dashboard design, retro-style chrome gauges, and a rather bulky steering wheel are in contrast to the softer interior curves of the 2006 Expedition.

The styling of the extended length Expedition Max is different from the ‘B’ pillar rearwards. The Max has its own floorpan, rear quarter glass, and unique rear side doors that are a different shape because they’re not forced to circumvent the rear wheelwell.

Both the standard Expedition and Expedition Max come with a carryover 300-hp SOHC 24-valve 5.4-litre ‘Triton’ V8 with 365 lb-ft of torque and a maximum towing capacity of 4082 kg (9000 lbs) (8750 lbs/3969 kg for the Expedition Max) with the optional Class 4 towing package. The engine is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission (replacing last year’s 4-speed automatic) which offers improved performance and fuel economy, according to Ford. However, official fuel consumption figures were not available at the vehicle’s introduction. One good thing: the 5.4-litre V8 uses Regular gas.

In Canada, all Expeditions come with four-wheel drive (2WD is also available in the U.S.). The electronic, shift-on-the-fly, two-speed transfer case includes a dial on the dash that offers 2HI (RWD), 4Auto (full-time 4WD), 4H (part-time 4WD), and 4L (Low range gear). Minimum ground clearance is 221 mm (8.7 inches), and an off-road package with skid plates is available for those who need it.

Ford’s stability and traction control system, AdvanceTrac, and a rollover sensor, are now standard equipment on all Expeditions (previously optional). The Roll Stability Control uses a gyroscopic rollover sensor to measure yaw and roll angles. If it detects a significant roll angle, it activates the stability control to brake one or more wheels to help bring the vehicle under control. As before four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard.

In addition to standard dual-stage front airbags, the 2007 Expedition now has standard side airbags in the front seats, and standard side curtain airbags that extend down to the bottom of the windows and protect all three rows of passengers.

First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
2007 Ford Expedition. Click image to enlarge

The new interior features front seats with softer cushions and more lateral support. As well, the driver’s seat travel has been increased by 20 millimetres to accommodate drivers up to 6 feet 4 inches tall. Six-way power front seats are standard (10-way power with leather seats). I wasn’t impressed with the new gauge cluster – it has a number of smaller gauges that are hard to read. The centre stack controls are straightforward and easy to reach, as is the big handle for the transmission shifter – the 2006 Expedition had a shifter on the steering column.

The Expedition’s second row 40/20/40 split seats now ‘kneel down’ when the seatbacks are lowered to form a flat surface flush with the cargo area. As well, the outboard second row seats will flip forwards to allow relatively easy access to the third row seats. At the rear, the 60/40 split third row seats are more comfortable than most competitors because the floor is lower and there is plenty of headroom. In the standard Expedition, I sat back there and felt quite comfortable. An optional second row DVD player and screen ($1,850) is now available to keep the kids entertained on long trips. As before, the third row seatbacks can be lowered by pressing power buttons in the cargo area (optional) – much easier and more convenient that climbing into the cargo area to do it. In addition, the rear liftgate is available with power operation ($500). With the second and third row seatbacks folded down, there is 3067 litres (108 cu. ft.) of cargo space. In the Expedition Max, there is 3704 litres (131 cu. ft.). These numbers are comparable to the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
First Drive: 2007 Ford Expedition ford first drives
2007 Ford Expedition. Click image to enlarge

Driving on the highway, the 2007 Expedition is noticeably quieter, the result of more sound-deadening materials in the firewall, floor and ceiling, softer body and engine mounts, and thicker side glass. Even under acceleration, I found the V8 engine surprisingly quiet. As well, the ride is softer than in the 2006 Expedition, due to its new chassis and revised shock absorbers. The Expedition is one of the few large SUVs with an independent rear suspension, and for 2007, it’s been upgraded to a new five-link design that provides better control of fore/aft forces and directional stability. Though the ride is softer for 2007, I found handling to be very stable on twisty roads. P265/70R-17-inch tires are standard on XLT models while 18-inch and 20-inch tires are available on Eddie Bauer and Limited models. A new variable-assist rack and pinion steering system reduces steering effort by 15% at slow speeds while providing a firmer, responsive feel at highway speeds. But the Expedition’s turning circle is still large: 12.5 metres (41 feet) for the standard model, and (13.4 metres) 44 feet for the Expedition Max.

I had the opportunity to tow a 5000-pound trailer, and though I experienced some highway wallowing due to its softer suspension, the Expedition was still very stable at highway speeds with adequate if not abundant power for towing up hills. The six-speed automatic transmission downshifted adequately, but I wonder why Ford doesn’t offer a ‘Tow-Haul’ mode like GM and Dodge? This feature automatically adjusts shift timing to account for heavy loads.

As well, Ford doesn’t offer a heavy-duty three-quarter ton model with a larger engine, as GM does.

The 2007 Ford Expedition XLT starts at $46,799, up from $45,199 in 2006. Standard equipment includes the 5.4-litre V8, six-speed automatic transmission, four disc brakes with ABS, 17-inch tires and alloy wheels, fog lamps, running boards, Class 3 trailer hitch, AdvanceTrac stability control and rollover sensor, front, side and curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, cloth upholstery, seating for seven, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, power windows and door locks, power mirrors, 40/20/40 split second row seats, 60/40 split folding third row seatbacks.

The 2007 Expedition Eddie Bauer for $54,699, up from $51,999 in 2006, adds two-tone paint, leather seats, six-disc CD changer, 10-way power driver’s seat, power third row folding seats, steering wheel audio controls, dual zone automatic climate control, and heated mirrors with turn signals.

The Limited at $57,699, up from $55,099 last year, adds a body coloured grille, 18-inch chrome wheels, wood and leather steering wheel, chrome exhaust tip, heated and cooled seats, and curtain airbags.

2007 pricing for the Expedition Eddie Bauer Max is $57,199 while the Expedition Limited Max is $60,199.

The 2007 Ford Expedition is schedule to go on sale in September.


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About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).