Precise handling is not what we expected in a 5686-lb, truck--even if it did receive an all-new independent rear suspension. Ford chassis engineers insist that it's a nice thing to discover on a twisty road or during an unexpectedly forced freeway lane change. We agree.

After driving the all-new Expedition both on and off road and on the test track, we came away impressed that Ford not only introduced handling precision into its from-scratch chassis, but eliminated much of the shake and shudder typical of full-frame vehicles, especially on wavy road surfaces. Hydraulic mounts for the largely carryover 4.6 and 5.4L SOHC V-8s smooth the power pulses and better isolate engine from frame and body. Transmission-calibration work has also polished the shifts to Town Car quality levels. All these tweaks dial up the premium ambience in Ford's big new sport/utility.

The driver side of the dash has a cockpit feel, with white lettering on the black-on-black controls. Seat cushions are significantly more comfortable, with much improved lateral support to keep you secure during cornering. Even the master cylinder's been fine-tuned to allow for precise metering of the brake pedal, which means smoother stops. We'd ask for two things: more steering boost at cruising speeds and a less "plain-Jane" look for the new instrument cluster. Otherwise, it's a significant advance over the first-generation Expedition.