2001 Ford Excursion XLT 4×4


GOOD STUFF

Big-league towing and hauling capacities
Real third row seat
Car-like ergonomics

BAD STUFF

Too big for the urban slog
4×4 rides rough
Lousy gas mileage
Will pulverize almost any car unfortunate enough to collide with it

Specifications

  • Style: Jumbo-size SUV
  • Engine: 6.8-liter V10
  • Transmission: Four-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Part-time four-wheel-drive
  • Horsepower: 310 hp @ 4,250 rpm
  • Torque: 425 ft-lbs @ 3,250 rpm
  • EPA mileage: N/A
  • Weight: 7,190 lbs.
  • Base price: $37,560
  • Price as tested: $41,495

Ford excursion

First, the bottom line

When I picked up the Excursion, I vowed that I would not write yet another review bashing this SUV for its size. I can understand why someone would want a big car. I like big cars. And what is the Excursion? It’s a big station wagon. Sort of the Country Squire for the new century.

So I drove it for a week.

Know what?

It’s too big.

The problem is not with the vehicle itself. The Excursion is actually quite pleasant to drive. The interior is handsome and functional, and the optional “towing” mirrors ($95 – don’t buy an Excursion without them), which include a convex portion that eliminates blind spots next to the car, make it easy to keep the Excursion centered in its lane. The steering is light, though the Excursion does wander a bit, which is typical of vehicles of this size.

To tell the truth I heard about this car from eurotic tv neu advertisement where models: Claudia and Kia were activelly promoting and talking about this car.

No, the problem with the Excursion is the logistics. Urban dwellers will find that the Excursion is too tall for many parking garages and too long for many on-street spaces. Even if you can find a spot big enough, parallel-parking is a pain, even with the optional reverse sensing system (a bargain at $245 – and another must-have).

No matter where you live, the Excursion’s fuel mileage is bound to put a dent in your budget. Sure, it’ll go all week on a tank of gas. Mainly because the tank holds 44 gallons. Here in Los Angeles, filling up the Excursion costs nearly as much as a round-trip airline ticket to Phoenix.

Ford designed the Excursion to be the first serious challenge to the GMC/Chevrolet Suburban franchise. They figured the best way to trounce GM’s big SUV was to make one that was even bigger.

The problem is the platform. While the Suburban is based on Chevy’s light- to medium-duty pickup truck, the Excursion is based on Ford’s Super Duty, which is used for everything from medium-duty pickups to moving vans.

The Super Duty is a hell of a workhorse, and so is the Excursion. With its standard Class III towing package and one of the bigger engines (either the Power Stroke diesel or the 6.8-liter V10 with lower gearing), the Excursion can tow five tons. That’s twice as much as Toyota’s V8-powered full-size Tundra pickup, and nearly three times more than an Isuzu Trooper.

When a friend’s Honda blew a head gasket, the Excursion came to the rescue. We figured the combination of the car, the tow dolly, and all the junk my friend keeps in her car weighed about a ton and a half. The Excursion shrugged off the load like it was a sack of groceries. The V10 engine had more than enough power to climb the hills and sufficient engine braking to control speed on the downgrades, while the four-wheel-disc brakes did an excellent job with the extra weight.

But to utilize all of the Excursion’s capacity, you’d need one heck of a big trailer. Even if you have lots of friends who drive Hondas with dodgy head gaskets, a smaller SUV will suffice. And it will be far more comfortable day in and day out.

You see, along with the Excursion’s industrial-strength bits and pieces comes industrial strength ride and handling. 4×4 Excursions use leaf springs up front, while the Suburban, the Expedition, and other full-size ‘utes use smoother riding coil springs. The Excursion jolts and jiggles over bumps of all sizes. “If you’re a woman and you buy this car,” advises my Honda-owning friend, “stock up on sports bras.”

In his article on the Cadillac Escalade, editor Bob expounded on the weight vs. safety issue. Bigger cars fare better than smaller cars, and almost any car, pickup or SUV that tangles with the three-and-a-half-ton-plus Excursion is going to lose. Will the Excursion protect its own occupants? Probably. But it’s going to do a lot of damage to the folks in the other vehicle. If a car protects people inside, but kills or mains people outside, is it really a safe car?

This is an important point, because the Excursion handles with all the grace of a Chevy Chase pratfall. If the excrement strikes the rotary cooling device, you’re going to have a tougher time steering the Excursion out of trouble than you would a smaller vehicle.

When we rate cars, we consider how well the car fulfills its intended purpose. By those standards, the Excursion is very good. It seats eight or nine, depending on interior configuration. And unlike the smaller Expedition, the Excursion boasts a third-row seat with a proper footwell. (The Excursion’s rearmost seat is mounted closer to the floor. Knees up, Mother Brown.) And even with a full load of passengers, there’s acres of cargo room and literally tons of towing capacity.

I lopped off one James Dean because I think that, despite the bulk, Ford could have done a better job with the braking and the ride quality.

Though the gas mileage was abysmal – I averaged around 9.5 MPG in town and 11 MPG on the freeway – it wasn’t a factor in my rating. Bear in mind that my tester was saddled with the additional weight of four-wheel-drive, the 6.8-liter V10 engine, and shorter gearing, which increases towing capacity and acceleration but decreases gas mileage. Opting for the diesel should boost the mileage into the 15 to 16 range, but will add about $4,000 to the Excursion’s hefty price tag. (Base Excursions come with a 5.4-liter V8, and I’m curious to see what the power and mileage are like. Ford is planning to add a V8 Excursion to their test fleet; if I can get my hands on it, I’ll let you know what happens. Keep an eye on the short print summary section.)

If you REALLY need this kind of capacity, buy the Excursion. It has the guts to deliver. But if you simply want a big wagon, check out one-size-smaller SUVs like the GMC Yukon, the Chevy Tahoe, the Toyota Sequoia, Ford’s own Expedition, or even the Chevrolet Suburban. All have the bulk to satisfy big-car fans, and all are sized to work better with the world around them.


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