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.
*July 6, 1955-Smog Control The Federal Air Pollution Control Act was implemented, providing federally allocated funds for research into causal analysis and control of car-emission pollution.
For more daily automotive history tidbits that define the automotive world we live in today you can log on at www.historychannel.com and click on automotive news.
Are You Down With the Jeep OG Fullsize? Full-Size Jeeps (www.eskie.net/fsj.htm) is dedicated to the maintenance, appreciation, preservation, and endurance of the "SJ-series" Jeeps we now know as fullsize Jeeps. These fullsize Jeeps include the original Wagoneer, Gladiator pickups (later just J-series trucks), '74-'83 Cherokees, '84-'92 Grand Wagoneer, and the military M715/M724/M725/M726 models. The new site hosts a community bulletin board and will soon have references and resources for the fullsize Jeep enthusiast.
Do You Want Some Cheese With That Whine? One of the coolest sounds is the turbo spooling up in a diesel. Diesel-Central.com is an informative source for diesel tech articles and diesel sites. It has The Diesel Mall, industry news, polls and surveys, forum and live chat, reader rigs, classified advertisements, an events calendar, and Coming Soon, in addition to giving you the option of your own personal Web site. The coolest feature is the detailed diesel tech, including diesel combustion basics and Power Stroke info.
*In 2007 Navistar diesel technology and Ford plan on using a 4.5L diesel V-6 in some of their trucks and SUVs.
*Ford Motor Company's Norfolk Assembly Plant produced its seven-millionth vehicle-a '02 F-150 pickup truck.
*American Axle may prove it's worthy to build and supply GM with a rear-steer axle system. Earlier this year the axle maker was awarded another contract to supply GM with axles for its fullsize trucks.
*An all-aluminum block will be outfitting some Chevy Trailblazers and GMC Envoys whose purchasers select the Vortec 5300 V-8 option. The engine is said to deliver 280 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.
*Ford will offer a "rollover" package in the restyled '03 Explorer. The package will include side airbag curtains and rollover sensors.
*Extreme Suspensions will carry on the legacy of the Dick Cepek name with the suspension and lightening lines. Mickey Thompson will continue to carry the Cepek tires. Extreme Suspensions can be reached at 915/263-0696.
*ProRock has a new national sponsor-Randy's Ring & Pinion of Everett, Washington.
*The American Rock Crawlers Association (ARCA) announced that it will be working with the group International Rock Crawlers Association (IRCA) to promote and sanction rockcrawling competitions at the international level.
Calendar Of Events
July 19-21 Radical Rides 13th Annual Canadian Truck Nationals: Western Fair Event Centre, London, Ontario, Canada. Information: 519/652-2449
July 19-20 Jeep Jamboree USA Paragon Adventure Event, Hazleton, PA. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
July 19-20 Jeep Jamboree USA Red River Event, Red River, NM. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
July 19-24 Rocky Mountain International Harvester Rendezvous 9th Annual All International Harvester Show 'n' Shine: Chaffee County Fairgrounds, Salida, CO. Information: 303/364-4424, www.rmihr.org
July 24-28 Dakota Territory Cruisers Black Hills Cruiser Classic, Black Hills, SD. Information: www.dakotacruisers.com
July 25-28 4th Annual Oregon Trail Jamboree, Bohemia Mining District, OR. Information: 541/684-9046, www.oregontrailjamboree.org
July 27-28 CORR Exxon Superflo Series Race, Milan, MI. Information: 317/2720-2827, www.corracing.com
July 27-28 5th Annual Buckeye 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals: Canfield Fairgrounds, Canfield (Youngstown), OH. Information: 317/236-6515, www.familyevents.com
July 27-Aug. 3 NAXKA XJFest Colorado, near Buena Vista, CO. Information: www.naxja.org
Aug. 3-4 8th Annual Bond Auto Parts 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals: Champlain Valley Exposition, Essex Junction, VT. Information: 317/236-6515, www.familyevents.com
Aug. 8-10 United Rockcrawling and Offroad Challenge (UROC) Finals, Vernal, UT. Information: 435/864-6548, www.uroc.rockcrawler.com
Aug. 9-10 Jeepspeed/ Mojave Desert Racing Series, Lucerne, CA. Information: www.jeepspeed.com
Aug. 9-11 Jeep Jamboree USA Rubicon Trail Event, Rubicon Trail, CA. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
Aug. 10-11 CORR Exxon Superflo Series Race, Bark River, MI. Information: 317/2720-2827, www.corracing.com
Aug. 16-18 Best in the Desert Tonopah "300" Off-Road Race, Tonopah, NV. Information: 702/457-5775, www.bitd.com
Aug. 16-18 Jeep Jamboree USA Silver Valley Event, Wallace/Mullan, ID. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
Aug. 16-18 Superlift 4xAdventure, Minden, Ontario, Canada. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com
Aug. 17-18 Inland Empire 4Wheel Drive Club's Big Bear Forest Fest 5, Big Bear, CA. Information: 909/590-4400, www.IE4W.com
Aug. 18 Southern Blackberry Festival Mud Races: Timber Grounds, Sutherlin, OR. Information: http://photos.yahpp.com/d_waller1
Aug. 18-19 Wasted Trails Annual Rally, Paragon Park, PA. Information: www.wastedtrails.com/RallyMain/rallypage1.htm
Aug. 22-25 IOK 4 Wheelers Gravelrama, Cleves, OH. Information: 513/367-0680, www.gravelrama.com
Aug. 23-25 Jeep Jamboree USA Catskill Mountains Event, Sullivan County, NY. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
Aug. 24 17th Open Car & Truck Show, Cambridge, OH. Information: 740/454-0347
Aug. 24-25 ProROCK Indiana State Rock Crawling Championship, Attica, IN. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com
Aug. 31-Sept. 1 CORR Exxon Superflo Series Race, Crandon, WI. Information: 317/2720-2827, www.corracing.com
Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Skyjacker Rocks Tennessee, Chattanooga, TN. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com
What The Oops!
From time to time we at 4-Wheel & Off-Road get to stick our feet in our mouths. This time it should be said that we profusely apologize for a misprint in the Apr. '02 issue. Please note that Eaton E Locker Products can be reached at 616/789-3341, www.traction.eaton.com.
Coolest Places Contest
I wanted to know what size tires I can put on my 40-foot SUV with a 36-inch lift. How many switchbacks can I put in the driveline? By the way, the coolest place to read is on the clock!Ed CalliesWestminster, CO
Political & Environmental Beat
One of the most common questions in our mailbag is, "How can I be more active in off-road politics?" If you've asked yourself that question, you are on your way to the beginning of off-road activism. Activism is a way for individuals to collaborate and organize to lobby for a common cause like motorized land use or vehicle scrappage. More importantly, the group becomes a support for social and recreational activities related to off-roading.
Here are a couple of ways to have your voice heard:
1. Find out who your senator is. You can do that with the help of SEMA's Washington D.C. office (202/783-6007) or www.enjoythedrive.com/legislative/contact_legislator.asp. They have tons of information and resources on "How to Lobby Elected Officials."
2. Write a letter to your senator.
3. Get involved at the local level with the county sheriff or local BLM offices and see what issues are relevant to your specific area. Perhaps a trail clean up is necessary.
4. Donate to a land use legal fund such as the Blue Ribbon's defense fund at 208/237-1008, www.blueribbon.org, or California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs' Legal Fund at 800/4x4-FUNN, www.cal4wheel.com.
5. Check out the clubs in your area and join a responsible one. If one doesn't already exist, get together with 10 of your closest buddies and start a club. The United Four Wheel
Drive Association is the predominant four-wheel-drive authority and can be reached at www.ufwda.org or your local state wheeling organization. All of the United Four Wheel Drive Associations' affiliates including contact info are listed in the box above for your convenience.
Arizona Association of 4WDC
Colorado Association of 4WDC
CORVA California Off Road Vehicle Association
Great Lakes 4WDA
High Sierra OHVA
Iowa Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs
Jeep Registry Europe
Long Island Beach
Buggy Association Inc.
Middle Atlantic 4WDA
Montana 4x4 Association
Nevada United Four Wheelers Association
New Jersey Beach
New Zealand FWDA
NorthEast Association of 4WD Clubs Inc.
Northern Lights 4x4
Pacific Northwest 4WDA
Rustbelt 4x4 Trailriders Association
Toyota Land Cruiser
United Mobile Sportfishermen Inc.