I don’t want to say that Ford is trying to slip its new Expedition SUV in the witness protection program, but it did strike us odd that it chose the sparsley attended Houston Auto Show to unveil it, with the Chicago and New York Shows around the corner.
Asked why Ford chose the Lone Star state in January to unveil it, Barry Redler, SUV Group Marketing Manager, said, “Texas is one of the single largest, large SUV markets in the country. It’s important to be big and bold in Texas and Expedition does just that.”
I can’t help thinking, too, that, this is not exactly the best time to remind people the company sunk new capital into updating a huge SUV at a time when sales in that catefory are sliding and Ford is fighting for its life.
That said, I’d like to add one thing since its fresh on my mind from a conversation I was having with someone yesterday. The Expedition is probably the best overall package in this category, though I haven’t driven the new Suburban/Tahoe from GM yet. It has long beat the Toyota Sequoia, hands down, for packaging and driving performance. In fact, the Expedition is so family friendly, I call it the best minivan Ford has ever built.
The new Expedition, whose new look mimics the F-Series pickup redesign, includes an extended version,the new 2007 Expedition EL. With 14.8 inches of additional overall length, Expedition EL delivers 130.8 cubic feet of cargo space – including 24 cubic feet more behind the third-row seat than the old Expedition. Expedition EL rides on a 131-inch wheelbase – 12 inches longer than the standard Expedition – to preserve the base model’s superior ride and handling.
Ford estimates that the large SUV market, already down from over 1 million to 800,000 last year, will continue to decline and level off at 650,000 units.