By John Stein/autoMedia.com
Luxury travel can mean different things to different people. For some, it's a stretch limousine heading to dinner and a concert. To others, it's a posh cabin on a top-rated cruise ship. Or maybe executive jet service to a Florida golf tourney. But if your family travel destination happens to be, say, a ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, leave it to the Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer model, one of three top-of-the-line luxury trim levels for the '05 Expedition, including the new Limited and Kind Ranch editions, to take you there in comfort—with the all-road, all-weather capability you need.
When equipped with a four-wheel-drive system, the Eddie Bauer model offers the enormous strength of a SUV, together with luxurious accommodations for eight and driving capabilities that are just as strong on the snow-covered back roads as heading downtown for dinner. Best of all, when you select optional AdvanceTrac® with Roll Stability Control™ (RSC), the Expedition has the advantage of the latest electronic stability control system. RSC measures vehicle roll-motion approximately 150 times per second, in which case the RSC will automatically reduce engine power and apply one or more individual brakes to help the driver regain control. This represents an important step beyond typical dynamic stability control systems. The option is very nominally priced considering the security and control it affords, it's a Ford-exclusive features that's patented.
You may not want to sling the Expedition sideways on a test drive, but a few minutes in the Expedition Eddie Bauer will convince you of the logic baked into Ford's SUV. And at over 17 feet long it is plenty big. But climbing into it immediately reveals its attraction: tremendous outside visibility, interior versatility and capacity, and a feeling of complete power and command. One neat standard feature is the power-adjustable foot pedals, which are memory-linked to the exterior mirrors and driver's seat adjustments. With the pedals adjusted the way you want (you can leave them as-is once you've set them), start up the Expedition's big 3-valve 5.4-liter SOHC V-8 and head out. With 300 hp and an equally impressive 365 lb.-ft. of torque, plus a precise electronically controlled four-speed automatic, and electronic throttle-control acceleration is effortless. So is high-speed cruising, regardless of whether you're driving at sea level, heading to the high country or even pulling a trailer (the Expedition Eddie Bauer 4x4 can tow up to 8,600 pounds with its standard Class III hitch receiver). This impressive power is balanced by lower emissions, and increased fuel economy versus the 2-valve 5.4-liter V-8 it replaces.
Inside, with its three rows of seating, the Expedition generously accommodates a large family—and then some. The Eddie Bauer's fully carpeted interior is richly outfitted with two-tone leather-trimmed upholstery for the front- and second-row seats, and includes dual reclining front captain's chairs with six-way power adjustment for the driver. The Eddie Bauer model also provides a host of standard luxury appointments including a 260-watt audiophile AM/FM audio system with in-dash 6-CD changer, Dual-zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control with separate rear controls, privacy glass and four 12-volt power points. Befitting a luxury vehicle, the options list is where things really get interesting. For instance, while you're heading north toward Banff, you can pick your route—and wayside points—on the available in-dash navigation radio system as the rear passengers are enjoying a movie on the optional DVD entertainment system's seven-inch screen (with matching wireless headphones no less). You can even put the second-row passengers in their own optional captain's chairs and, if you like, add in a PowerFold™ third-row seat.
But the options are just getting going. When the air turns cold—or hot as you're returning to Tucson—switch on the optional heated and cooled front captain's chairs, a class exclusive for Expedition for maximum comfort. Zip open the optional power moonroof to catch the scent of the pine trees. And revel in the four-corner load-leveling suspension, which automatically adjusts the Expedition's ride height according to the weight of the passengers, luggage and cargo you're carrying. Most test-drives won't begin to show off this marvelous feature, but one trip with the family and all their belongings surely will. The vehicles also squats one inch when the engine is shut off, making it easier for the whole family to get in and out.
And speaking of families, patriarchs and matriarchs alike will be happy to learn that the Expedition also has available Safety and Security Package, which includes the Safety Canopy™ System and Reverse Sensing System. Affording an increased level of protection in a side impact collision, they represent another one of those hard-to-test features you'll take comfort in knowing Ford built into the Expedition.