For 2003, Ford completely redesigned the Expedition, giving it a new body, interior, and advanced safety features. Ford made the vehicle much quieter, which was one of the first improvements the judges noticed. The body is slightly larger than the previous Expedition, and uses a fully boxed frame with hydroformed rails and structural foam in the cabin to dramatically increase torsional rigidity and stiffness, making the new Expedition's ride and handling much better than it ever was, a pleasant surprise for the judges. Also helping the ride was the use of a fully independent suspension. The Expedition we tested came with the optional FX4 package, which included skidplates, shocks that were tuned for off-road use, chrome steel wheels, A/T tires, limited-slip differential, and tubular steel running boards and foglamps. These work with AdvanceTrac traction control and the Control Trac four-wheel-drive system to make the Expedition excel in the dirt.

The independent rear suspension also allowed Ford to make meaningful changes to the interior. The 60/40 third-row seat can be raised and lowered with an optional power-fold feature, meaning that the cargo area can be reconfigured in less than one minute. Also, third-row passengers have more hip, knee, and legroom because of the rear suspension change. There is more room throughout the interior, and storage within the cabin was some of the best in this year's competition.Our tester's 5.4L powerplant was made quieter for 2003. In addition, the 5.4L uses a new cast-iron block and improved intake and exhaust systems. The Ford has more than enough power for trail use and highway driving, and the engine performs just as well with a speedboat in tow.

After our extended time testing the Expedition, all of the judges had different ideas about the best way to modify this '03 Ford. Some saw the power potential, others like the FX4 package as a good start that a suspension lift and bigger wheels and tires would help. Others wondered how the new Expedition would look on airbags, or with awesome graphics. This shows the true versatility of this vehicle, and if our judges are any indication of the public's excitement, the Expedition will be a huge success.

Base Price: $37,610
Price As Tested: $41,145
Engine: 5.4L SOHC V-8
Horsepower: 260 hp at 4,500 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm
Suspension: Independent double wishbone coil-over-shock (front and rear)
Brakes: ABS disc (front & rear)
4WD/Transmission: Control Trac full-time 4WD/4R70W four-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 119.0 in
Length: 205.8 in
Width: 78.7 in
Height: 77.6 in
Curb Weight: 5,689 lb
Towing Capacity: 6,000 lb
Fuel Economy (city/highway): 13/17 mpg