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SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

1998 FORD EXPEDITION EDDIE BAUER 4X4

by Tom Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 34,590
Price As Tested                                    $ 39,050
Engine Type                       SOHC 5.4 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 329 cid/5403 cc
Horsepower                                   230 @ 4250 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               325 @ 3000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  119.1"/78.6"/204.6"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     5765 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                    30 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                     P265/70R17
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                    Front-engine/all-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                      Eight-passenger/five-door
Domestic Content                                 85 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            13/17/16
0-60                                               11.5 mph
Payload capacity                                2000 pounds
Towing capacity                                 7400 pounds
     * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

A look at the nation's highways will show that the traditional American sedan is close to being replaced by the full-sized Sport Utility Vehicle, or SUV. For moving many passengers, or for trips to buy groceries in bulk from "warehouse" stores, it's hard to beat a big SUV.

This week we test one of these large SUVs, the Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer 4X4, Ford's top-of-the-line behemoth.

OUTSIDE - Expedition is mammoth in proportion, but it fits nicely in most garages. It is based on Ford's F-150 pickup, and it bears the family resemblance from the front doors forward. And just like the modern-day passenger car, Expedition's wheelbase has been stretched to provide maximum use of interior space, though it's not so much as to make tight corners much of a worry. This wheelbase stretch shortens the front and rear body overhangs, a helpful feature during the occasional off-road foray. And the flip-up rear tailgate is able to swallow large amounts of cargo through its large opening and features separate glass that swings up, too. Our Eddie Bauer test model wore 17-inch alloy wheels, lighted running boards, integrated mirror-mounted turn signal indicators, fog lamps and two-tone fender flares.

INSIDE - Ford has carefully laid out Expedition's interior. The dashboard makes the best of modern-day ergonomics, where the switches and knobs are all within easy reach. Several seating arrangements offer accommodations for five to nine passengers, depending on model choice, and the interior gives more than 118 cubic feet of space. The standard seating is a bench seat up front and in the middle. The second row set can be folded forward, while an optional third-row seat is available. Eddie Bauer models are the most plush inside, with leather upholstery and standard front captain's chairs with a powered driver's seat. With such a tall stance, visibility is virtually unlimited, but climbing to the rearmost seat takes some contorting of the body. Standard Eddie Bauer features include air conditioning, a high-powered AM/FM cassette, and power windows, outside mirrors and door locks.

ON THE ROAD - When Ford replaced the Bronco with Expedition, it not only radically changed the look, but re-powered the truck as well. The two engines available are both modern overhead-cam designs, with electronic fuel injection and computerized engine management systems. The standard 4.6 liter V8 gives 215 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, while an optional 5.4 liter version of the same engine produces 230 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Our Eddie Bauer test models came with the larger engine, as well as a trailer tow package that gives it a 7400-pound towing capacity. However, it does put its 30-gallon fuel tank to good use as we were only able to average 16 mpg overall. Both engines use a four-speed automatic transmission. Controlling for its 4wd system is by a knob on the dash that activates a two-speed transfer case. The A4wd setting lets the truck's computer automatically decide where to distribute the engine's torque, and defaults to 2wd if the computer detects no wheelspin. Other transfer case ranges include the standard 2wd selection, 4wd High and 4wd Low for serious off-roading.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Expedition rides on a boxed truck chassis and offers suspension tuned for as good a ride as a rugged 4X4 can offer. The front suspension is independent, and uses torsion bars and gas- pressurized shock absorbers. The rear of the chassis rides on a solid axle and progressive-rate coil springs that ride softer when the truck is unloaded and stiffer when it's weighted down. Anti-roll bars are fitted front and rear. Load-leveling suspension is optional, a feature which not only lowers the vehicle to make climbing aboard easier, but can raise it to increase ground clearance for maintaining an even keel. The steering is light, but accurate, and comes with a new system that varies the effort based on vehicle speed. Braking duties are handled by massive four-wheel discs with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Load-leveling suspension: $815; CD changer: $475; third-row seat: $855; Destination charge: $640.

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