Ford first introduced the Expedition in 1996 as a rival to the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs. The vehicle would evolve through the years and spawn the Lincoln Navigator. In 2003, the Expedition received a major redesign that incorporated an independent rear suspension, something that even the upcoming 2006 Tahoe and Yukon eschew. The Expedition is a capable truck, with decent power, plenty of room, and lots of safety features. But since the Expedition first appeared on the scene, the competition has gotten stiffer. Ford's full-size SUV now faces a redesigned, larger Dodge Durango as well as fresh competition from Japan in the form of the Toyota Sequoia and the Nissan Armada. Changes for 2006 are limited to color and trim tweaks, along with the availability of reverse park assist and side curtain airbags as standalone options. Covering all the bases, the Expedition is offered in no fewer than six trim levels: XLS, XLT, XLT Sport, Eddie Bauer, Limited, and King Ranch.
The Expedition looks a lot like an inflated Explorer; it shares the same styling cues and profile, stretched over a larger frame. The various models all have subtle exterior cues to differentiate them. The XLS has 17-inch steel wheels and tires; the XLT gets aluminum wheels; the Eddie Bauer has machined aluminum rims; the Limited gets chrome-finished wheels; and the King Ranch sports identifying logos. XLT models have front foglamps and running boards, the XLT Sport adds dark grey exterior cladding, the Eddie Bauer gets a two-tone finish, and the Limited has body-color monochromatic exterior parts. For all the fuss and frippery, however, only dedicated Expedition fans will know the differences between the models.
The main thing to note about the Expedition's interior is its massive size. It will seat up to eight with the standard second-row bench seat, and there's an enormous 110.5-cubic-foot cargo area with the second- and third-row seats folded. Behind the third row, there's 20.7 cubic feet of space, and a goodly 60.9 cubic feet behind the second row. Head- and legroom are as ample as anything in this class.
The base Expedition has a decent interior, with attractive chrome-rimmed gauges and aluminum accents on the air vents, but you need to go up through the trim levels to turn it into a luxurious vehicle. The base XLS gets cruise control, a front bench seat with power adjustment for the driver, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, and an AM/FM/CD stereo. The XLT adds auxiliary rear air conditioning, an overhead console with storage, and a wide-angle rear-view mirror. The Eddie Bauer boosts the amenity count with dual-zone air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that incorporates audio and climate controls, leather-trimmed front captain's chairs, power adjustable pedals, and an in-dash six-CD changer.
In the Limited, the front seats both get eight-way electric adjustment with powered headrests. Pony up for the King Ranch, and you'll get woodgrain trim and a powered folding third-row seat added to the mix. In addition to the standard features, in-dash navigation, heated and cooled seats, second-row captain's chairs, a DVD rear-seat entertainment system, and a power-folding third-row seat are all available.