Deciding I have a thing for big trucks after driving the F-150 SuperCrew, I figured I'd take on the 2001 Ford Expedition. Before loading it up for a weekend trip to Pennsylvania, I easily removed the third-row seat. Putting the seat back after the trip, however, was another story.
Under the delusion that one person should be sufficient for the task, I rolled the seat out from the garage. But, when it came to lifting it into the truck, I turned into Superman faced with a lump of kryptonite. Finally, I managed to heft one end of the 85-lb seat up and put all my weight into pushing the other end in.
Thankfully, driving the Expedition requires little effort. On my trek to Pennsylvania, driving conditions varied from rain to dry pavement to light snow. The Expedition handled well in all conditions. This is due in part to its weight and size, as well as the Control Trac 434 system. This system transmits power to front and rear wheels for better traction. "Auto" mode provides all-wheel drive and constantly monitors and adjusts front-wheel torque to reduce slipping. "High" mode electronically locks the transfer case clutch in high, providing a 50/50 split between the front and rear wheels for off-roading or heavy snow. My goal was to keep the Expedition on the road during my long drive, so the system stayed in auto.
An independent SLA front suspension soaks up bumps on rough roads assisted by a variable-rate coil-spring rear suspension. An optional four-corner load-leveling suspension uses rear air springs and front air shock absorbers to maintain vehicle height at all four wheels, regardless of load. A kneel-down position drops the vehicle an inch to make getting in and out easier. Put the suspension in low, and it raises the vehicle an inch to improve ground clearance. Unfortunately, our test vehicle was not equipped with this. It's available on the 434 XLT for $815, but requires the Class 4 Trailer Towing package for $390.
The Expedition carried the optional 5.4-liter V8 which produces 260 hp at 4,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. It's linked to a four-speed automatic tranny. The standard 4.6-liter V8 provides 215 hp at 4,400 rpm and 290 lb-ft at 3,250 rpm. The higher torque at low rpm gives an extra boost when taking off from a stop or towing a load. I had ample opportunity to experience this power when climbing curvy roads through the mountains. The 5.4-liter powerplant delivered extra get-up-and-go without hesitation by a simple push on the accelerator, while the four-speed transmission shifted seamlessly.
While the exterior of the Expedition shouts rugged truck, the inside is all about luxury. Leather captain's chairs up front hug you comfortably, like a luxury sedan. The cavernous center console hides a six-disc CD changer hooked up to seven speakers. Large storage pockets on either side of the center console are great for holding maps and are wide enough to hold three CDs. Ditto for the storage pockets on the driver and front passenger doors. Rear cargo space is 20.5 ft3 with the third-row seat intact. Remove the seat, and the cargo area increases to 60.9 ft3. Folding down the second seat gives the Expedition 110.7 ft3 of space, plenty of room to haul an antique armoire from Pennsylvania back to Ohio.As expected, gas mileage is not great, 17 mpg highway and 12 for city driving. Base price for the Expedition XLT 434 is $32,715. With options and destination charges, the price jumps to $39,700. Would I buy this truck? If I had to choose between the Expedition and its competitors, I'm a Ford girl all the way.

Sherri Koucky