Large SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,000 – $39,300*

2003 Ford Expedition

2004 Ford Expedition

2005 Ford Expedition

Ford Expedition interior

  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Trailer-towing capability
  • Visibility
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy

Expeditions qualify as a Best Buy (2003-6 and 2008-12) because they do everything a full-size SUV should, and handle some important tasks better than most. No, Ford’s version is not as opulent as its upscale Navigator cousin, but it matches Lincoln’s array of safety and convenience features at lower cost.


A new independent rear suspension and an industry-first power fold-down third-row seat highlighted the redesigned 2003 Expedition. This full-size SUV was positioned between Ford’s midsize Explorer and the larger Excursion. New styling, inside and out, accompanied the Expedition’s wider body.

XLT and Eddie Bauer models were joined by an FX4 off-road edition. Expeditions were again available with a 4.6- or 5.4-liter V8, and either two-wheel drive or Ford’s ControlTrac four-wheel drive, which could be left engaged on dry pavement and included low-range gearing. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes continued as standard, now with brake assist for emergency stops.

Newly optional were Ford’s AdvanceTrac traction-control/antiskid system, and a tire-pressure monitor. XLTs relinquished their 16-inch wheels for the same 17-inchers as Eddie Bauer models. Replacing front side airbags as an option were curtain side airbags for the first two seating rows. The curtain airbags were designed to deploy in side collisions and in rollover accidents.

All Expeditions had three rows of seats. Value- and Popular-model XLTs were available with a front bench for nine-passenger capacity. In the second row, Eddie Bauer models could substitute two buckets for the standard bench. Exclusive to Eddie Bauer, the third-row seat power-folded into the floor, via controls in the front and back of the cabin.

Ford’s new independent rear suspension lowered the rear floor by 9 inches, adding third-row legroom. The FX4 included skid plates, off-road shock absorbers, and tubular running boards. An adjustable air suspension became available later in the model year.

Lincoln’s version of the Expedition, the Navigator, was similarly redesigned for 2003. Expedition rivals included the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon/Denali, and Toyota Sequoia.

Yearly Updates

2004 Expedition
Wider availability of the power-folding third-row seat led the 2004 changes to the smaller of Ford’s two full-size SUVs. ABS and power-adjustable pedals were standard. Options included a load-leveling suspension and Ford’s AdvanceTrac system. The power third-row seat was available for the first time in cloth-upholstered Expeditions. Also more widely available for 2004 were a tire-pressure monitor, rear obstacle detection, and rear-seat DVD entertainment.
2005 Expedition
A stronger 5.4-liter V8 engine, with 40 more horsepower, went into 2005 Expeditions. The 4.6-liter V8 was dropped. Optional AdvanceTrac included Roll Stability Control, which was designed to detect an impending tipover and activate the antiskid system to reduce the chance of such an occurrence. Power-adjustable pedals were optional on the XLT and XLT Sport, and standard on upper models.
2006 Expedition
No significant changes for the 2006 Expedition.
2007 Expedition
Ford’s largest SUV gained fresh front and rear styling and an extended-wheelbase model for 2007. The Expedition EL had a 12-inch-longer wheelbase than the regular-length model and was 14.8 inches longer overall. Both versions seat seven or eight with available three-place 2nd-row seating. An available front bench seat increased seating capacity to nine. The sole engine remained a 300-hp V8, but a 6-speed automatic transmission replaced a 4-speed automatic.
2008 Expedition
Expedition added a top-line King Ranch version with upgraded leather upholstery and unique trim.
2009 Expedition
Ford’s Sync voice-activated interface for cell phones and digital music players was newly optional for 2009, and the optional navigaton system added real-time traffic, weather, and entertainment information.
2010 Expedition
The 2010 Ford Expedition was largely unchanged.
2011 Expedition
The 2011 Ford Expedition saw no significant changes.
2012 Expedition
There were no changes of note to the 2012 Ford Expedition.
2013 Expedition
Big rigs such as these don’t usually change much after they’re launched or redesigned. For 2013, Expedition was no exception. The main notable feature is the availability of a factory-installed rear dual-screen DVD entertainment system on top-line Limited and King Ranch trim levels.
2014 Expedition
The available load-leveling suspension switched from an air-based system to a mechanical system. Otherwise, Expedition was little changed for 2014 pending a significant update for 2015.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

Expeditions in 2003-04 came with a choice of two V8 engines, depending on model, and a four-speed automatic transmission. The XLS was offered only with a 4.6-liter, while the XLT and NBX held a 260-horsepower, 5.4-liter V8. XLT and Eddie Bauer editions might have either V8. For 2004, the 4.6-liter was gone and the 5.4-liter V8 got a boost to 300 horsepower. Expditions may have rear-wheel drive or ControlTrac four-wheel drive. For 2007, the sole engine remains a 300-hp V8, but a 6-speed automatic transmission replaces a 4-speed automatic. For 2009, horsepower rose to 310.

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 232
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 291
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic 14/18
ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.4/330
Engine HP 260
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 350
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic 13/17 13.2
ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.4/330
Engine HP 300-310
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 365
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic
6-speed automatic

EPA rating with 2WD is 14/19 mpg for 4.6-liter V8 and 13/18 mpg for 5.4-liter V8 (14/19 mpg for the 2005 V8).

Road Test

When equipped with four-wheel drive, the 260-horsepower, 5.4-liter V8 delivers adequate pickup and is the clear choice to take advantage of the Expedition’s 8,950-pound towing capacity. The more powerful 2005 V8 yields good acceleration along with markedly better midrange performance.

An early 5.4-liter 4WD averaged 13.2 mpg in an even city/highway mix. Expect about the same with the 4.6-liter, as well as the newer V8. All engines use regular fuel.

Substantial weight and a long wheelbase combine with the independent rear suspension for a surprisingly stable ride, which irons out most surface imperfections. Minimal fore-aft, side-to-side rocking is evident, and there’s little jiggle on washboard ripples.

Linear steering feel and unperturbed straight-line tracking can be expected, and the relatively compact 38.7-foot turning circle gives reasonable in-town maneuverability. Only moderate top-heavy lean occurs in low-speed corners, but the nose plows through faster turns. AdvanceTrac combines with ControlTrac for all-weather security and good off-road ability. Stopping power and pedal modulation are praiseworthy, with no undue nosedive.

Expeditions deliver fine suppression of wind and road noise. Engines are throaty in full acceleration, but well-muffled otherwise. Even third-row occupants get a quieter experience than in a typical minivan.

Unobstructed gauges and no-mystery main controls are helpful, but the transmission lever hides the 4WD switch, and the turn-signal stalk obscures the power pedals’ buttons. Interiors use appropriate-grade materials and show solid assembly.

Front space ranks as generous, but some drivers considered the cloth bucket seats too soft, and the seat bottoms too long for best comfort. Eddie Bauer’s captains’ chairs add welcome armrests. Visibility is obscured by thick roof pillars and large headrests, particularly over the left shoulder. Huge mirrors help, but small objects can hide along this big SUV’s tall flanks. Rear obstacle detection is a smart option. Approach lights on outside mirrors provide helpful illumination.

The second-row bench holds three adults, but all three positions are somewhat narrowly defined by seatbelt buckles. No center armrest is included, but the middle section slides forward 11 inches for child-seat access. Second-row buckets in the Eddie Bauer edition are hard, low to the floor, and don’t slide fore or aft. Broad passage between second-row buckets eases access to the third row, but flipping the second-row seats forward demands considerable effort. Best-in-class third-row room stems from a chair-height bench, though the cushion could be longer and softer. Entry/exit is easier than in most rivals, though running boards afford minimal foothold when stepping out.

Some soft luggage can be stacked behind the third-row seat, and cargo room goes from impressive to voluminous as the second and third rows fold. Best-in-class convenience for the fold-down third-row seat is better yet if the power-folding feature is installed. The 60/40 seatback sections power up and down in seconds, and stop automatically if obstructed, though controls are inaccessible from front seats. Cupholders abound, including door cutouts for 20-ounce bottles.


Model Tested: 2004 Expedition XLT w/5.4-liter V8 and 4WD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 2
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 9
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 9


Value - 7

Total: 60


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
119.0 205.8 78.7 76.7 5805
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
108.2 28.0 8.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 39.8 41.2 39.1
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
131.0 220.5 78.7 76.7 6155
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
130.8 34.0 8.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.5 39.7 41.2 39.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Expedition XLT w/5.4-liter V8 and 4WD 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner may intermittently quit working during cruising due to icing of the evaporator requiring installation of a thermostatic switch. (2003-04)
Brake wear
Description: The original equipment brake pads cause excessive dust and revised pads with a different lining material are available, but must be installed on both the front and rear and are not covered by the original warranty. (2003-04)
Description: The rear wheels may chatter during low speed turns requiring installation of a revised clutch pack in the limited slip differential. (2003-05)
Description: Hopping, binding sensation from rear axle caused by binding limited-slip clutch packs requires revised clutch packs and reformulated gear lube. (2002-04)
Description: The outside mirror on the driver’s side may spontaneously fold in due to faulty module in driver’s seat. (2007)
Description: The climate controlled seats may quit working due to a glitch in the control module. (2006)
Spark plugs
Description: Spark plug hole threads in cylinder heads are easily damaged or stripped out when removing plugs because carbon builds up on them. Spark plugs may also eject while driving. (2004-05)
Spark plugs
Description: Spark plugs tend to break off in the cylinder heads on 5.4L, 3-valve engine often requiring costly head removal. (2004-05)
Transmission leak
Description: Transmission leak from bulkhead connector sleeve. (2009-10)
Vehicle shake
Description: Vibration, often accompanied by a droning sound, comes from the front halfshafts (axles) during deceleration due to unequal rotational speeds requiring installation of clutch springs in the front differential. (2003)
Description: Water may accumulate in the headlight assembly requiring the seam between the plastic halves to be sealed with RTV silicone sealant. If this has been done, black tape to hide the repair will be visible on top. (2003)
Description: The battery may go dead because the rear wiper does not cycle to its parked position due to rusty pivot, but keeps attempting to do so. (2003-07)
Description: Premature corrosion on the tailgate. (2003-14)
Description: The automatic height leveling system my malfunction due to sensor link arms disconnecting at their ball studs for which revised parts are available. (2003-06)
Transmission problems
Description: Grinding noise from front axle while in 2WD. (2003-10)

Recall History

2003 Expedition with aftermarket Southern Comfort runningboards
Description: Courtesy-light wiring might overheat and melt running board or start a fire.
2003-06 Expedition with aftermarket corner/bumper light assemblies
Description: Certain aftermarket corner/bumper light assemblies do not contain required amber reflectors.
2005-06 Expedition with Purolator replacement fuel filter
Description: Purolator replacement fuel filter may leak and start a fire.
2006 Expedition
Description: Front and rear tires on the driver’s side may be damaged at the center tread, allowing belt corrosion. Dealer will inspect all four tires and and replace any tires with tread damage.
2006 Expedition
Description: Windshield wiper motor may not be greased enough, causing loss of wiper function. Dealer will inspect and grease the motor, if necessary.
2007 Expedition with 5.4L V8 engine
Description: The fuel rail cross-over hose may crack, which could cause a fuel odor and/or fuel leak, which increases risk of fire. Dealers will replace the fuel rail assembly.
2007-08 Expedition
Description: The door-handle-housing embossment retaining the bottom of the interior door-handle spring on all side doors may fracture during normal customer usage. This can result in insufficient spring force to return the handle to the fully closed position. Dealers will replace the interior-handle spring on all side doors.
2008 Expedition
Description: Tire-pressure monitor may not illuminate when a tire pressure is 25% below specification.
2008 Expedition
Description: Faulty antilock brake component could cause a reduction in braking force.
2008 Expedition
Description: Faulty driver-side airbag may not deploy during a crash.
2009 Expedition
Description: These vehicles fail to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.” The brake light switch may be improperly adjusted, resulting in a delay in brake stop light illumination when the pedal is pushed. In situations of very mild brake application, the brake lights may not illuminate. Dealers will adjust the brake light switch free of charge.
2011-12 Expedition
Description: Automatic transmission may unexpectedly downshift to 1st gear regardless of speed. The vehicle could slow suddenly without warning and the rear tires could slide or lock.
2012 Expedition
Description: One seat may have inadequately welded head restraint support brackets and could be dangerous in a crash.
2012 Expedition
Description: Transmission may not go into reverse when the driver puts the shift lever into position for reverse. When vehicle is in reverse, dashboard “R” light may not illuminate.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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