We figured that the big Ford's new independent underpinnings would give it an edge against its full-size SUV competitors. One look at the gorgeous aluminum lower control arms on the front and rear suspension dispels any notion that the Expedition is old-school utility. One editor reports, "On well-paved suburban lanes, the ride is smooth, yet roll and bounding are well-controlled. The suspension communicates what's going on underfoot, too." The Expedition's steering and brakes also were praised for their responsiveness and crispness. But as roads become twistier and bumpier, the Ford starts to feel heavy and chassis communication gets intrusive with the sounds of the suspension going about its work. A sport sedan it is not.

The Expedition is at its best in cruise mode as an all-weather shuttlecraft probing the outer reaches of suburbia. Ford's full-size SUV offers class-exclusive features, such as a second-row seat with a Centerslide middle section that allows parents to move that portion of the seat forward to tend to a child in a safety seat. A Powerfold option for the third-row seats raises or lowers the seatbacks flat to the floor with the flick of a switch.

The Expedition NBX replaces last year's FX4 Off-Road package and basically dresses a midlevel XLT with tubular step bars, skidplates, high-pressure Sachs shocks, heavy-duty floormats, chromed steel wheels, and the larger of Ford's two Triton V-8s. The Expedition, though heavy, underpowered, and outgunned in several other areas, remains a nice piece, and the power third-row seat thing is trick.