Americans have always liked big cars. But with the popularity of sport-utility vehicles, the competition to give buyers the biggest SUV is starting to look a lot like the 60’s nuclear arms race. Each time a new one arrives, we wonder how much farther this escalation can go. Well the latest behemoth in the Ford arsenal is right here. It’s the 2000 Excursion. The biggest sport-ute yet! Is this the end of the parking space as we know it?
Probably not, but with the 2000 Ford Excursion roaming the lot, that parking space is looking a lot tighter! And, even though the Excursion lays claim to the largest-sport-ute-on-the-market title, its 68.4 inch front track is still more than 3 inches narrower than a Hummer’s.
Besides, as most large truck owners will tell you, the key to parking lot maneuverability in a vehicle this size is to learn to use those large side mirrors and back into the space. Master that, and you can park this big rascal just about any where you want.
And make no mistake, it is big! Our 4X4 XLT tester has an overall length of 226.7 inches. That’s just over 18 feet, yet it’s only about 7 inches longer than a Chevrolet Suburban. Width is 80 inches even, while its 80.4 inch height is perfect, if it were an NBA point guard. While the 4X2 model rides 3 inches lower, it’s still too tall for many parking garages.
But despite its enormous bulk and weight, between 6600 and 7700 pounds, we found the Excursion to be—are you ready for this?—remarkably light on its feet. And while there is that constant jittery feeling associated with the solid front, leaf spring mounted axle, there’s also the smooth ride that comes with the Excursion’s 137-inch wheelbase.
Based on the F250 Super Duty pickup chassis, which is also noted for its ride, the Excursion’s suspension has been domesticated further by revising the spring rates, sway bars, and bushings, and retuning the shocks. The steering has also been modified to give it an overly light, car-like feel.
A trip through our low speed slalom revealed quick and accurate turn ins with moderate understeer, and the engine block-mounted steering pump easily handled the rapid side to side movements. Push it a little harder and the understeer can quickly turn to oversteer, causing the back end to step out. But that’s the typical nature of a heavy duty truck.
The Excursion concept is all about versatility, and that theme extends under the hood as well. The standard engine in the 4X2 is the 5.4 liter, Trition V-8. But those who want to work their Excursions will likely want the optional 7.3 liter Powerstroke V-8 diesel, or the 6.8 liter Trition V-10 that comes standard in the 4X4. It pumps out 310 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm. With that engine, we experienced a thirsty fuel economy range of between 9 and 12 miles per gallon.
All engines feed through a 4-speed automatic transmission capable of handling up to 500 pound feet of torque. And the 4X4 system is a part-time, shift-on-the-fly unit. The V-10 moved our 4X4 behemoth to 60 in a prompt 10.5 seconds and past the quarter mile marker in 17.7 seconds at 76 mph.
And the 4-wheel disc, anti-lock brakes brought us to a halt from 60 in an average of 150 feet. Pedal feedback from the ABS system is loud and clear. And although there is a tendency to wander a little, it’s not enough to upset the Excursion’s composure.
And to help smaller cars and trucks keep theirs in an accident, there’s a blocker beam in front to keep you from riding over them and a large trailer hitch at the rear to keep them from sliding under you. Or you can use it to tow up to 10,000 pounds of trailer.
Once you’re in the Excursion’s spacious interior, you’ll find plenty of room for not only your composure, but for 146.4 cubic feet of cargo as well.
Our XLT came with dual captain’s chairs up front with 8-way power adjustments as well as a manually operated recline function and lumbar support. For those who want more front seat room, a bench seat is available. The upright Super Duty dash houses a comprehensive gauge cluster and an AM/FM/Cassette/CD player that has Crown Vic size controls and easy to understand layout. Just below are the simple to use rotary climate controls for front seat occupants, while those for the standard rear HVAC system are found just overhead. And, the power rear quarter windows do a nice job of keeping the air fresh. Even with the optional 6-disc CD changer in the console, there’s still enough storage space for a small watermelon.
Foot room climbing into the second row seats is rather cramped, but once on board there’s plenty of room for three adults. And access to the third row seats is easy from either side thanks to the tip-slide seats. Again, once you’re there you’ll find plenty of adult-size room. For maximum cargo capacity, the second row seats fold flat and the third row rolls right out the back. And all that space is easy to get to through the lightweight, tri-panel doors.
About the only thing associated with the Excursion that’s not big is its price. Relatively speaking, of course. XLT 4X2s start at $34,135; 4X4s, like the one seen here, $37,450. The leather lined Limited model starts at $37,785 for the 4X2, and $40,880 for the 4X4. That’s about the same you’d pay for a Lincoln Navigator and we predict Ford will sell every Excursion it can make.
Since almost the beginning of time, the Chevrolet Suburban has been the sole owner of the Super-Ute, Heavy Duty Wagon category. And clearly the 2000 Ford Excursion has upped the ante, for now. Despite its size, it’s easy to handle, almost luxuriously appointed, and can carry and tow a houseful.
But, wait a minute. There’s an all-new 2000 ‘Burb about to hit the streets. So stay tuned ‘cause we think there’s a big SUV showdown a coming.
Engine: 6.8 Liter Trition V-10
Torque: 425 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 10.5 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 17.7 Seconds @ 76 MPH
60-0 MPH: 150
EPA Mileage: 12 MPG City 16 MPG Highway