Review: 2006 Ford Expedition

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Ever since the Explorer/Firestone debacle, Ford has almost overcompensated by adding safety features to its SUVs--all the better for the consumer. The Expedition is available with side-curtain airbags and a stability control system with a rollover-avoidance feature. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard on all trims, and all-wheel-drive is available on every variation. A reverse park warning system is also on the options list. Finally, the Expedition has been awarded the Federal Government's highest frontal crash test rating for five years in a row.

Ford doesn't give you any choices in this department: the Expedition comes with one engine, a 5.4-liter V-8 that's mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. This engine was introduced in the Expedition for the 2005 model year and features three-valves-per-cylinder technology for optimal emissions performance. Output is 300 horsepower and a robust 365 lb-ft of torque, although the engine does have to propel a vehicle that weighs between 5,352 and 5,607 pounds.

The Expedition drives a lot better than most enormous trucks because Ford equipped it with a fully independent suspension and paid a good deal of attention to the truck's dynamics, particularly the steering. This truck rides quite well, without the head toss that often afflicts large body-on-frame SUVs with a live rear axle, and it can be guided along two-lane roads quite swiftly as its body motions are well controlled. Where the vehicle's mass becomes apparent is when you're accelerating onto the highway and when you need to stop in a hurry. Because the peak engine torque is delivered rather high in the rev range, it requires aggressive throttle merging onto the Interstate. And though the Expedition has decent brakes, you still need room to come to a complete stop.

The Expedition certainly feels big from behind the wheel. You sit very high, with a commanding view of the road, and you soon realize that it's a long way back to the tailgate. On many cars, a reverse parking sensor is an annoyance, but it's a welcomed feature on a vehicle that measures 205.8 inches from stem to stern.

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