1998 Ford Expedition Reviews and Ratings

Utility 4D Eddie Bauer 4WD

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1998 Ford Expedition
Ray Thursby

Ford has touted itself as the "Better Idea" company in years past. Its biggest Better Idea to date, the massive

Expedition, may well be considered a Best Idea, judging from the horde of cash-in-hand customers queuing up at Ford

dealerships. Assembly plants are working full steam to meet the demand for the the Expedition, and its luxurious

near-twin, the Lincoln Navigator.

Ford and Lincoln dealers are trying to get them as quickly as possible, but buyers have recently been placed on

waiting lists. Enough Expeditions are now trickling into the Ford dealerships that buyers can drive one home. Those

wishing to purchase a Navigator should expect to wait for awhile to get one.

Why is the Expedition so successful? We think its success goes beyond the current enthusiasm for large

sport-utilities. And we think it goes beyond the shortage of contenders; only the GMC and Chevrolet Suburbans

compete in this big size class. We think the Expedition is selling like hot cakes because it does everything it was

designed to do and it does it well. Its good looks certainly don't hurt, either.

This year does not bring major changes to the Expedition because it is only in its second year of production.

And the folks at Ford wouldn't want to change a thing. In fact, the only things setting the 1998 version apart from

its predecessor are the availability of some additional paint colors. The Expedition has also been certified as a

Low-Emissions Vehicle in states that have adopted California's tougher emissions regulations. Walkaround
The stylists at Ford took a sensible approach when they set out to give shape to the Expedition. They already

had two winners to their credit--the F-150 pickup and the Explorer. So they borrowed the best elements from each

to create another success. From nose to windshield, the Expedition shares sheet metal with the F-150. From the

front doors back, the Expedition has the contours of an Explorer. No panels interchange between Expedition and

Explorer, but the resemblance is unmistakable.

This combination of ingredients works well. The Expedition is handsome, with a sloping hoodline and rounded

front end that reflect attention paid to aerodynamic design. It's a design that pays off with improved fuel

efficiency and reduced wind noise. As a matter of necessity, the sides and back are shaped more for utility than

style. Clever use of trim and rounded corners provides some visual definition, however.

Stretching more than 17 feet from nose to tail, the Expedition is certainly no compact. And there's no way to

disguise that. GM's Suburban is even longer, adding a foot-and-a-half to the total. Ford touts the Expedition's

shorter length as a benefit when trying to fit into a garage. (However, Ford is working on an even bigger rig to

compete with the Suburban.) It's true that an Expedition will fit into some garages that are too small for a Suburban,

but check yours to be sure as garage sizes vary.

Two trim levels, XLT and Eddie Bauer, make up the Expedition model range. With little demand for plain, entry-level

vehicle in this class, Ford equips the XLT well and the Eddie Bauer even better. Differences between XLT and Eddie

Bauer are confined to paint and trim. And even these distinctions can be blurred by checking off items from a long

list of optional equipment.

The Expedition derives much of its chassis and mechanical hardware from Ford's F-150 pickup and all Expeditions are available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Interior
The Expedition's generous outside dimensions provide for a large, commodious interior. Two seating configurations

are available. Ordered with front bucket seats and a center bench, the Expedition can comfortably haul five

passengers. Ordered with the front full-width seat and center bench makes room for six passengers. Well-padded chairs

provide comfortable seating.

Adding the optional third-row bench provides seating for two more passengers--three if they are small. Getting

in and out of the third seat requires some agility, so it helps if they are small and young.

Our XLT came with full carpeting, attractive color-keyed door- and dash panels and amenities galore, including

power windows, mirrors and door locks, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel and an audio system that should please

many buyers. First- and second-row occupants get separate heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls; a

third set of controls for the third seat is optional.

A curved dashboard houses instruments and controls where they can easily be reached. A large center console offers

additional storage space and a place for front-seat occupants to rest their arms; a roof-mounted center console is

also available. The Eddie Bauer roof console adds a digital display that provides the date and time, average fuel

economy, compass headings, along with a switch for the power swing-out rear quarter windows.

Attractive and durable materials are used throughout the Expedition's cabin. Soft-touch coverings are applied to

switches and door panels. The window switches are lighted internally at night, a nice touch that not all vehicles carry. Driving Impressions
From the driver's seat, you can't help but notice the size of the Expedition. Surprisingly, its bulk doesn't make

it especially difficult to drive. Speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering works in the driver's favor by

keeping steering effort down to a reasonable level. Brake pedal feel is light, yet precise. Lots of large windows,

along with big mirrors, make it easy to see in all directions. Extra care and attention is required when maneuvering

in close-quarters, however.

The ride quality is good, though it is not as soft as that of a traditional family sedan or wagon. The

two-wheel-drive version is slightly smoother on the highway thanks to its independent front suspension, but both

two- and four-wheel-drive versions ride very nicely considering their size and weight. An advantage of the Expedition's

long wheelbase is a resistance to pitching over freeway expansion joints and other irregularities. When driven on

twistier roads, the Expedition does not lean unduly in corners, nor does the front end dive excessively under

hard braking.

Buyers of 4x4 Expeditions can order the load leveling system, which uses compressed air to compensate for varying

loads while improving ride quality. Built into the system is a one-inch increase in ride height. When parked, the

system can make the Expedition kneel down to lower the step in height, which makes getting in and out of the

vehicle easier.

Four-wheel-drive Expeditions are more competent off road than their size and fancy trimmings suggest. While serious

rock-climbing is not suggested, occasional forays off the beaten path can be undertaken without fear of being left

stranded. By simply turning a rotary knob on the dashboard, the driver can choose between two-wheel drive, part-time

four-wheel drive, full-time four-wheel drive and low-range four-wheel drive.

Beyond the choice of two- or four-wheel drive, the buyer also chooses between two V8 engines. They are identical

save for displacement. They are smooth and quiet. We recommend the larger unit, which delivers extra pulling power

for full passenger loads and heavy trailers. Both engines are mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Summary
By any measure, the Expedition sets new standards for the large sport-utility market. Its blend of strength,

refinement, comfort, good road manners and exceptional finish quality is not matched by the Suburban, at least for

now. The shorter length of the Expedition is an admission ticket to a larger number of garages.

In our view, the lure of the biggest Ford is its versatility. The Expedition will haul almost anything one

might put in a pickup truck, assuming the owner is willing to soil the plush carpet. It will carry a large family

in limousine-like splendor, pull a trailer or explore places beyond pavement's end. For the price, you can't ask for more than that.

Model as tested
Ford Expedition XLT 4x4
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Wayne, MI
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested
5.4-liter engine, all-terrain tires, limited-slip differential, skid plate package, trailer towing package, rear seat heating and air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, load-leveling suspension, third row seat, California emissions

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Safety equipment (standard)
Dual airbags
Safety equipment (optional)
5.4-liter sohc V8
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
(XLT) ABS, air conditioning, passive anti-theft system, power windows, mirrors and door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/cassette stereo, speed control, premium audio system with 6-disc CD changer, chrome mirror housings

Engine & Transmission
5.4-liter sohc V8
Drivetrain type
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
230 @ 4250
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
Suspension, front
Live axle
Suspension, rear
Live axle (4x4)

Seating capacity
5, 6, 9
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

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