2007 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer 4x4
The Ford Expedition got an update for its 2007 model year. With the demise of the Excursion line, the 2007 Expedition is the biggest passenger car in Ford's lineup these days, and the behemoth SUV sports many of the design cues that are currently in vogue among Ford's designers, including a three-bar chrome grille, chiseled front fenders, and a bug-eyed headlight arrangement. Inside, the Expedition has been given even more of an overhaul. For those willing to tick the boxes on the options sheet, there is a world of digital diversion available, including a voice-activated navigation system, an MP3-compatible stereo, and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Test the tech: Lunch in Monterey
For our tech test of the 2007 Ford Expedition, we decided to take the car at its word--on an expedition--using some of its advanced cabin tech features. While the Expedition's voice-recognition system doesn't understand spoken addresses (the Honda/Acura system is the only one that we've seen that can), it will understand spoken directions to a specific point of interest category. For our adventure, we took our Expedition tester to Monterey for lunch, or, more accurately, we let it take us to Monterey for lunch.
Our plan was to program the Expedition's touch screen navigation system to lead us to Monterey some 120 miles away and, once there, to ask the voice-recognition system to recommend a restaurant. Our first impression of the navigation system when we climbed (yes, climbed) into the cabin was not altogether positive. Despite the car's enormous size, the in-dash LCD screen is small, and its fonts and menus have a very basic appearance. However, when we got to programming the unit we found it extremely responsive and user-friendly. The main reason for this accessibility is the system's touch screen interface. Rather than having to twist knobs or repeatedly press buttons, we were able to punch in our address directly on the screen. Adding to the speed of programming destinations is the system's ability to process each selection almost instantly, ensuring that we didn't have to endure the frustration of waiting around for the processor between menu screens (a welcome change from the navigation system in the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec that we reviewed last week).
Having set our destination as downtown Monterey, we put ourselves in the hands of the navigation system and set out to follow its directions exactly. Like other leading navigation systems, the Expedition's features text-to-voice technology enabling it to call out specific road names during voice guidance. Making our way through the city to the highway, we found the directions to be timely and accurate, albeit a little too chatty (there appears to be no way to lessen the frequency of the voice prompts). Once on the freeway, the navigation system continued to impress us. At intersections, the display changes to a split-screen format, showing a large turn arrow on the right-hand side and a larger map on the left. We managed to cover the 120 miles to Monterey--including a stretch over the winding, mountainous Highway 17--without once losing the GPS signal, which is more than can be said for the navigation system in the 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Once in the city's center, it was time for voice-recognition system to take on the next stage of the challenge. Pressing the Voice button on the right-hand side of the steering wheel brings up a spoken menu of available voice commands.
Pressing the steering wheel's Voice button opens a rather uninspiring conversation with the Expedition's navigation system.
For some reason, the voice that speaks each menu option differs from the turn-by-turn voice guidance from the navigation system: The latter has a human intonation, but the voice-recognition menus are spoken in a voice that sounds like a drunken robot slurring its words. The second gripe we had with the voice-recognition system was its way of asking for confirmation at each stage of a multistep command. For example, when trying to call up restaurants in the vicinity, the procedure went like this:
System: "Please say a command."
System: "Navigation, is that correct?"
System "Navigation, main menu; options are Destination or More Options."
System: "Destination, is that correct?"
System: "Please select a category."
System: "Navigation, destination, all restaurants; is that correct?"
System: "American, Italian, Mexican, fast food..."
System: "Navigation, destination, Mexican restaurants; is that correct?"
System: "Please make your selection from the screen."
There appears to be no way to shortcut this constant stream of confirmation requests after each selection, making the whole process very cumbersome. After enduring this long and uninspiring conversation, we were then provided with a list of options of Mexican restaurants on the touch screen, listed by proximity. With an impulsive press of the top button, we chose the closest option--Taco Del Mar--which turned out to be a felicitous choice, and we set about dispatching a very tasty fish burrito (no, we'd never heard of it either) before setting out home.
The Expedition's recommendation for Taco del Mar turned out to be a good one.
In the cabin
Looking over the top of a BMW X5 in front of us on the highway, we realized just how huge the 2007 Ford Expedition really is. As one would expect in a car with a driver's seat set as high as that of a bus, forward visibility is very good. Rear visibility is less so: To our dismay, the 2007 Expedition does not come with a rearview camera as part of its navigation system upgrade. Our car included the optional Convenience Package, which includes a reverse-sensing system in its $695 price tag. Also aiding rear visibility is the Expedition's all-glass liftgate, which can be opened separately from the rear hatch. Our tester came equipped with a power liftgate ($495), the button for which is located on the inside of the cargo area (rather than on the bottom of the hatch), which necessitates a quick escape by those who wish to avoid being sandwiched in the closing door. The rear-end gadgetry continues with a power-hideaway third row of seats. With a push of a button, the third-row seats tumble forward automatically into the foot well. The result is an expansion of the cargo area floor by about 36 cubic feet.
In addition to its touch screen programmability, the Expedition's navigation system boasts a number of commendable features, including one-touch map scrolling; color-coded road info (pink for unusable roads, purple for roads under construction, and so on); detailed building footprints for the 20 largest cities in the U.S.; and an address database that defaults to the current state.
Aside from its navigational duties, the Expedition's small, in-dash touch screen can be used to control various kinds of in-car media. Our 2007 Expedition, with the Eddie Bauer trim, came standard with an Audiophile stereo system featuring an in-dash six-CD changer with MP3 capability and a very prominent auxiliary-input jack for MP3 players. The output of the 340-watt (peak) stereo comes courtesy of seven speakers around the cabin, including a standalone subwoofer. Despite having some advanced sound-processing options (digital signal processing and a Compression function that boosts quiet sounds while lowering the volume of louder music), the Audiophile system sounded very bass-heavy and lacked the clarity of separation needed for crisp reproduction of classical music.
Playback of digital audio on the Expedition's stereo is very straightforward. With MP3 discs playing, the system shows ID3-tag information for the current folder and file, as well as (with a press of the Text button) the artist and the track title. A particularly useful feature enables drivers to choose between Folder mode and Track mode when playing MP3s, with the latter playing a disc straight through without regard for folder divisions. Our test car was equipped with the optional rear-seat entertainment system, which we found to be surprisingly packed with media functions. Ford makes no effort to integrate the components of its rear-seat system into the dashboard of the Expedition, choosing instead to stick a huge console onto the car's roof.
The Expedition's optional rear-seat entertainment system plays a surprising range of media.
This means that the loading of DVDs has to be done above head height on the disc slot on the right-hand side, which is inconvenient, especially for kids who will have to get up out of their seats to change movies. Though there are also buttons for controlling video playback on the bezel itself, all the functions for the video can be controlled using the remote. In addition to DVD videos, which play with striking clarity and resolution on a drop-down, 8-inch wide-screen display, the rear-seat system can be used to play CDs and digital audio discs, with full ID3-tag information for the latter displayed on the screen. The console also has RCA input jacks for other portable media devices, and it has jacks for wired headphones. Conspicuously absent from the Expedition's tech lineup, however, is a means of making hands-free phone calls. Disappointingly, Bluetooth is not an option.
Our tester came with optional second-row "captain's chairs" ($795) from which to enjoy all the entertainment. These replaced the middle-row bench seat, reducing the Expedition's adult seating capacity to four, possibly plus one more wedged into the middle third-row seat.
Our optional captain's chairs cut the grown-up seating capacity to four.
Rear-seat space, even in the captain's chairs, was disappointingly limited, and 6-foot-tall passengers are best advised to fight it out for the navigator's spot up front.
Under the hood
The 2007 Ford Expedition is powered by a 5.4-liter V-8 engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with overdrive. For being such a bulky car (206 inches long, 77 inches tall, 5,800 pounds), the 4x4 Expedition briskly responds to throttle inputs, although it is less responsive when stopping due to a large amount of travel in the brake pedal. In addition to the standard coil-over-shock, four-wheel independent suspension, our car came with optional air suspension with rear load leveling ($485).The Expedition is also the only model in Ford's lineup to feature the Control Trac 4x4 System, which enables drivers to select from a variety of drive settings (4x4 High, 4x4 Low, or 4x4 Auto) for different driving conditions. Driving through torrential rain in 4x4 Auto mode, the Expedition felt surefooted, although massive understeer left us feeling like the captain of an ocean liner when steering it around town.
According to Ford, the Expedition's six-speed gearbox is a class exclusive, and the extra ratio does appear to give the car something extra in terms efficiency. After 255 miles of highway driving, we observed an average fuel economy of 17.9mpg--nothing to boast about, but on par with lighter, slightly smaller, seven-seat behemoths we've seen, such as the 2006 Jeep Commander Limited and the 2007 GMC Yukon Denali.
Our 2007 Ford Expedition with Eddie Bauer trim came loaded with more than $10,000 worth of options. To the $38,475 base price, we added a laundry list of features including the $1,995 DVD-based navigation system; the $795 second-row captain's chairs; a $100 skid-plate package; a $950 power moonroof; $675 for the Convenience Package (reverse-sensing system, power-adjustable brake and gas pedal, and power quarter-flip windows); $350 for a heavy-duty trailer tow, $1,575 for all-season tires; $495 for a power liftgate; $195 for Sirius Satellite Radio prewiring; $625 for climate-controlled seats, $1,500 for the rear-seat entertainment system; and $75 for the luxury of chrome-tipped exhaust pipes. All told, it came to a total of $49,175.
The 2007 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer 4x4 is a car for those who remain wed to the idea of classic SUVs rather than to models from the emerging crossover segment. Its chunky exterior design and enormous dimensions encase some very usable cabin tech features, and some advanced performance features mean that this is one mall cruiser that theoretically can be taken off road. Just don't get your chrome-trimmed wheels dirty.