Other than the fact that I don't own a trailer to tow behind this big Ford, I used the Expedition to its full extent this past weekend. I loaded up two car seats and three adults for runs to Trader Joe's, Ikea, Target, and Whole Foods. I never ran out of space for the shopping and no one complained about not having enough room. The ride and lack of noise on the highway is impressive and it plugged through the snow with little trouble Sure, it's still a big huge beast and doesn't exactly handle well or slot easily into parking spaces but it does what it sets out to do quite well. I find the interior packaging far superior to that of a Suburban. The seats fold flat, making it very easy to load flat pack boxes at Ikea. In a Suburban, you have to decide if you need to remove the third row before heading off on your errands. If you then need to haul extra people, you have to reinstall the third-row seats. Not good. I also find that the Ford doesn't have the annoying secondary vibrations through the chassis and the suspension that you feel in the GM product.
But it's not all good news for the Expedition. The engine isn't especially strong and uses a ton of fuel. The transmission is a bit slow to shift as well. The Suburban, especially with the six-speed automatic fitted, has a superior drivetrain. I also find Ford's SYNC audio system less than impressive. It sometimes goes on strike, not allowing you to control anything and I find it much easier to just use the touch interface then to go through the multi step voice command process to change a music track. It needs some more work before I'm sold. Still, the touch-screen interface for the navigation and audio system is impressive.
I know that recent high fuel prices and environmental concerns are turning vehicles like the Expedition into a dinosaur, but it's a solid choice for those American families who have more than three kids and own a big trailer. Still, families who don't need to tow a large trailer are much better off with a minivan.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor