|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Some people simply like having bigger things. Give them a 4-inch smartphone and in a few months, someone will counter with a 6- or even 8-inch unit. Give them a 100-inch LED television, and someone will hit back with a 102-inch screen. Give them the well-equipped Ford Explorer and someone will still clamor for the Expedition. Perhaps this way of think is born from penal envy—the irresistible urge to own the biggest, most badass thing around. However, it could also be for more practical reasons (generous seating for 8 and luggage). Whatever your case may be, you’ll be glad to know that the Ford Expedition EL is still around to provide one of the biggest modes of land transportation available in the Philippines.
Priced at an eye-watering P 3.339 million, the Expedition EL may seem like a superfluous choice compared to the already premium-feeling Explorer. That is, until you see the Expedition EL up close. It quickly dawns on you: all the extra cash goes straight to the huge chunk of metal you’re getting. Measuring in at 5,621 millimeters in length and 2,332 millimeters (yes, that’s 2.3 meters) in width, the Expedition EL will not fit into most Manila parking slots without its nose sticking out and its mirrors extending past the yellow line. And yet, what it gives up in practicality is made up for its extremely large interior.
Requiring a huge step up, getting into the Expedition EL is a feat by itself, but once you’re inside, you’re welcomed by a large 8-seater interior that shames some Ayala-sold studio flats. Where ever you end up sitting in, from the first row to the third row, the Expedition EL has trunk loads of space. The first two rows have adequately supportive seats and are largely comfortable. However, the third row seats are flat with thin cushions and a slightly knees raised seating position. The third row aside, no one’s going to complain about the Expedition EL’s kingly accommodations even down to the luggage space where most extra length went. With the third row seats up, the Expedition EL can still fit luggage enough for all 8 occupants even for that airport run—a rare feat in three-row SUVs.
The Expedition EL’s been around for quite a while, and sadly, this is pretty evident in the interior treatment. There have been some attempts to spruce things up with the imitation black Bird’s Eye Maple, leather upholstery, and satin metal accents but for the most part, the Expedition EL’s a clear throwback to early-mid 2000’s Ford. Though the fit and finish are generally solid, the materials are simply hard to the touch. Everywhere you touch, knock or press, the Expedition EL suffers from a hallow sound which isn’t a great indicator of luxury. What’s worse, the ergonomics are aged, especially in the area of driving position. Though the Expedition EL is equipped with niceties such as power adjustable pedals, the controls are all scattered in the cabin and this isn’t helped with all those buttons looking the same. Exterior visibility, especially from the back is fairly limited because of the Expedition EL’s sheer bulk. Engineers have remedied the problem somewhat by giving bond paper-sized side mirrors and a set of parking sensors (including a parking camera). Thankfully, the sensors can even detect off-angle objects such as flat poles, security guards, and stray dogs. Equally welcome is the suite of infotainment features in the Expedition EL headline by SYNC which adds Bluetooth and USB connectivity and marries it to a voice-control feature.
The new Ford Explorer set the standard in handling and comfort for a large crossover thanks to its uni-body construction, so you have to imagine a mental reload when it comes to driving the Expedition EL. Still built on a ladder-frame chassis but featuring independent suspension on all four corners, the Expedition EL is surprisingly stable than its exterior dimensions suggest. However, the ride is surprisingly firm and stiff, jarring the occupants regularly with EDSA’s undulated concrete surface. Plus, it reaches the limits of its handling abilities quite early. The steering is also slow, so darting in and out of traffic is quite a chore. In one instance, Expedition EL found itself trying to maneuver its way to Antonio’s in Tagaytay and though it made it, it had to stop for every incoming traffic that passed by.
Not everyone knows this, but the Expedition EL actually shares its engine with some of the legendary and storied Fords such as the GT and even the Shelby GT500. Of course, serious modifications were done in those applications, but at least you know that there’s some pedigree to the Expedition EL’s 310 horsepower and 365 Nm of torque. Those are mighty numbers but pair it to a three-ton body and what you end up with is merely adequate. The exhaust note has creamy hints of Mustang, but passing power is much to be desired. You actually have to wait for a downshift from the Expedition EL’s 6-speed automatic to get some decent pace and once you keep the revs up, you’ll eat through the 127-liter tank to the tune of 4.55 km/L combined city and highway.
The Ford Expedition EL certainly doesn’t score high in the practicality index, but if you’re looking for a highly capable, extra-large SUV then you’re looking at the right place. The Expedition EL’s imposing size and demeanor means you’ll inflict penis envy on just about any motorist. It’s even more effective if you’ve got a chauffeur and perhaps a bodyguard or two riding with you. However, for the 99 percent of people not in power (government or otherwise), the ownership proposition may not be as bright. The sheer bulk alone proves too much of a hassle in more than one occasion and the gasoline bills may just be large enough for a monthly downpayment on a Focus. That’s certainly something for you to think about.