While big SUVs are out of favor in the media, some folks still need them for big families and big towing. And when Ford canceled the big Excursion, it left the largest SUV market to General Motors and vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban. Well now, Ford, still the world’s number one truck maker, is filling that void with an extended version of its revamped Expedition, the Expedition EL.
‘EL’ simply stands for ‘extra length.’ And with it, Ford reaffirms the mantra “Bigger is Better.” This super-sized variant of the thoroughly revised Expedition is the epitome of full-size capability, comfort, and cargo-readiness.
With a yacht-like presence, the EL’s wheelbase stretches to 131 inches, bettering the standard Expedition by a full foot. Overall length is almost 15-inches longer at 221.3 inches, just an inch shy of the Chevy Suburban.
Style-wise the new Expedition series follows the SuperDuty with an ever brawnier look. The bulging “powerdome” hood conveys more brute force than before. It leads down to a new three bar grill, flanked by contoured headlight housings.
The EL’s linebacker stance is enhanced by new flush-mounted lower body cladding. And on our tester, optional 20 inch chrome-clad alloys with all-season tires.
The extended flanks end with an oversized hatch with separate opening glass and available power assist.
Within, an all-new, handsome interior is centered on room and comfort for up to 9 passengers. The gauge cluster is large, white-faced, and in-your-face. They compliment the well-crafted controls and over-sized air vents.
And there’s no shortage of interior storage, either. The standard Captain’s Chairs can add both heat and ventilation. The thick rimmed steering wheel has controls for cruise, climate, and the 6-disc CD stereo.
Standard safety comes as six airbags including side curtains with rollover sensor.
Popular options include power adjustable pedals, navigation, and rear seat DVD.
As before, Ford has nailed it when it comes to people room. A 40/20/40 split bench is standard for the second row and these Captain’s Chairs an option.
Access to the split third-row bench is reasonable, where there is almost three-inches more legroom than a Suburban.
But that’s the same for all Expeditions as the EL’s added length goes solely for cargo.
Behind the EL’s 3rd row there is 42.6 cubic feet of space, more than double the standard Expedition. That’s also a little less than Suburban, but the “Burb” lacks the Expedition’s very convenient fold into the floor 3rd-row seats that quickly expand space to 85.5 cubic feet. There is a maximum of 130.8 behind the front seats. Again less, but easier to use space, than the Suburban.
The folding seats and generous leg room are directly tied to the Expeditions new 5-link independent rear suspension and half-shafts that pass through rather than under the frame. The frame is a fully boxed ladder-type that is 10% stiffer than before.
The result is a 6,053-pound behemoth that is more agile and flatter in corners than you think it should be. There is still plenty of weight transfer, but the new variable boost steering is very responsive.
AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control is now a standard on all Expeditions.
Still, the EL doesn’t handle appreciably better than a Suburban with its more primitive live axle rear. And being a Ford truck, the Expedition is fairly stiffly sprung with a less compliant ride over pot-holed roads.
Catapulting this beast forward is Ford’s proven 5.4-liter 24-valve single over head cam V-8. Output stands at 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque.
It ties to a new 6-speed automatic transmission and feeds either rear or available on-demand 4-wheel drive.
Towing capacity is stout 9,000 pounds, compared to 8,200 pounds for a Suburban 1500. And its max payload of 1,775 pounds again eclipses the Suburban. You have to upgrade to a heavier, thirstier Suburban 2500 series to beat the EL.
On the track, our EL plowed from 0 to 60 in a reasonable 9.1 seconds and rumbled through the quarter-mile in 16.9 seconds at 83 miles-per-hour. Power off the line is modest, coming on much stronger in the mid-range and top-end.
To leash this momentum, are four wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist. Straight, fade free halts from 60 to 0 averaged a size-respectable 135 feet.
Now for the bad news. Government Fuel Economy ratings for a two-wheel drive Expedition EL are 14 city/20 highway. The four-wheel drive model isn’t rated, but our test average of 14 miles-per-gallon on regular gas seems normal. For comparison, our long-term Suburban is averaging 15 miles-per-gallon.
Base price for the EL is $34,625. Load on the options, as in our Eddie Bauer 4x4, and the sticker rises to a hefty $51,280.
But, if you need the size and capabilities, ever higher sticker and fuel prices are likely secondary concerns.
The arrival of the 2007 Ford Expedition EL expertly fills a void for the brand’s neediest diehards, and gives them plenty of good reasons to stay out of GM showrooms.
Engine: 5.4-Liter 24-valve Single Over Head Cam V-8
Torque: 365 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 9.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.9 Seconds @ 83 MPH
60-0 MPH: 135 Feet
EPA: 14 MPG City/ 20 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 14 MPG