On The Road With...'03 Ford Expedition
While we can drool over technical specs for days, nothing compares with actually driving new vehicles. Last month we brought you the technical details on the '03 Ford Expedition, including the IRS and multiple control systems designed to keep average drivers out of trouble. This month we had the opportunity to experience just how well this culmination of technology functions in real-world situations.
The first impression when we slid into the Eddie Bauer model was quite favorable. It's easy to get comfortable in the plush leather seats, tilt the wheel into place, and adjust the pedals to match your lower limbs. The dash is all new and much better in our opinion. The actual dash material is still hard plastic but it has a more modern appearance. Our favorite interior feature is the seat heater and cooler with multiple levels (no, really).
There's a difference between the '02 and '03 Expeditions that you notice as soon as you're above 20 mph. The new model rides a bit firmer, but your reward is greatly enhanced handling. It took us a while to find a stretch of blacktop where we could wring out the new Expedition's on-road performance, but we were surprised at just how stable and sticky such a large SUV could be. The vehicle really has the feel of a sports sedan, relative to its size and what you'd expect from a large SUV. The yaw-control and traction-control systems designed for lesser drivers were unobtrusive in the maneuvers we tried on pavement, which is fine with us. We'd probably be grateful for these systems if we got in over our heads, but the vehicle performed so well in the corners that we never needed them.
The off-roading we were able to squeeze in was limited to snow and a little bit of mud. In the really slippery stuff, the traction control pulled the throttle back so hard that it felt like the brakes had been applied. You can turn off the traction control if you want more freedom, but in most instances we didn't find it intrusive. We had minimal time to test the vehicle's traction with one or two tires off the ground (the common ditch test) but it did drive relatively easily through the small situations we were able to find.
You'll have to wait for our 4x4 of the Year for a more in-depth look at this vehicle's off-road capabilities.
Tons Of Fullsize Jeeps
The festivities for the 40th Anniversary of the fullsize Jeep will be held August 15-17, 2002, in Ouray, Colorado. Activities center around the area's trails, and fullsize enthusiasts plan on attending from around the world. The trails include: Imogene Pass, Mini Alpine Loop, Engineer Pass, Clear Lake, Minnie Gulch, Buffalo Boy Mine, and Poughkeepsie. Open invitation to all '63-'83 Wagoneers, '84-'91 Grand Wagoneers, '74-'83 Cherokees, '63-'91 J-series trucks, and fullsize military trucks such as the M-715.
For more information visit www.cfsja.org/2002.
Start planning now for cleanup projects. December 14, 2002, Extreme 4 Wheelin is sponsoring an off-road area cleanup day in Disney, Oklahoma. Meet at Hogan's RV Park at 10 a.m. Bring your four-wheel drive, ATV, or off-road rig and Extreme will provide trash bags. Expect to scour the Grand Lake Dam area for trash, pick it up, and then play on the rocks. For more information call 918/622-4275.
This Month in Automotive History
*July 23, 1903-First Ford Model A Goes Home The first two-cylinder Ford Model A was delivered to its owner, Dr. Ernst Pfenning of Chicago.
*July 12, 1904-Climb to the Clouds Driver Harry Harkness won the first Mount Washington, New Hampshire, hillclimb race driving a 60hp Mercedes Benz.
*July 29, 1909-Cadillac: From Ford to GM The Buick Motor Company acquired the Cadillac Motor Company on behalf of General Motors for $4.5 million.
*July 31, 1916-NASCAR's Good Ol' Gal Louise Smith, NASCAR's first female act, was born on this day. She competed in stock car racing during NASCAR's decidedly "good ol' boy" years.