Customers are migrating toward smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs from other makers as Ford has lavished development resources on gigantic gas-guzzlers and let its car line languish. If the crossover shown at the 2006 Detroit show is a step in the right direction, the long-wheelbase 2007 Expedition EL looks like a back flip off a cliff. It’s heavier, two feet longer than a regular Expedition, and any fuel economy gained by the use of a new six-speed automatic likely will be offset by its massive three-ton curb weight.
If you can get over the bad timing, the new Expedition looks really nice. The Edge-style face works well, the interior is among the best in class, and safety and convenience specs leave nothing to be desired. Too bad the market for larger-than-full-size SUVs fell 24% in 2005 and shows no sign of rebounding. Ford apologetically points out that “Many customers demand the kind of capability for hauling people and cargo that can only come from a full-size SUV.” Many ain’t what it used to be, however, and by the time the redesigned Expedition and Expedition EL go on sale in the fall of 2006, the redesigned and XL will already have been on sale for months, stealing any thunder the Ford might have garnered. If an SUV falls in the woods and there’s nobody around, does anybody buy it?