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2003 Ford Excursion Limited V10 – The Best SUV Ford Ever Made?

Hey everyone, it’s Zach here. Today, I want to share my personal experience with the 2003 Ford Excursion Limited, a beast of an SUV that’s as legendary as it is controversial. Recently, I had the chance to drive this mammoth vehicle, and it left quite an impression on me. Here’s why I think Ford canceled what could have been the best SUV ever made.

How Was The Engine & Performance?

First off, let’s talk about the engine, well there was four engines offered over the five model years of the Excursion originally. The offerings were the V8 the V10 which is this the 6.8 and then a 7.3 L diesel. Later in 2004 really 2003 and a half they switched over to the 6.0 L Diesel and that’s what I drove earlier on the channel.

This makes about 310 horsepower and so in terms of power stats it is very very similar to the diesel that was offered at the time. The V8 made 255 the 7.3 made 250 and the 6 L made 325 so 15 more horsepower out of the 6 L diesel but that’s not all that much.

If you want low-end grunt it’s really interesting to drive this V10 as well because this is the first V10 I’ve driven that isn’t geared towards speed or just being cool. This has low-end grunt with the V10 and that is very impressive to feel.

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Like I said paired to it is a four-speed automatic transmission uh I don’t know of many other V10s paired to a four-speed auto but this one certainly is. It’s fine it’s doing the job and you know what I just can’t complain about it. Last but not least this particular Excursion is four-wheel drive.

However, if you got the base model you could find two-wheel drive if that’s something that you wanted or if that’s what you ended up with. How does it feel to drive a V10 Excursion? This thing is Big it’s brutal it is a lot of machine. However, the controls aren’t brutal in any way.

The steering is nice and light and almost fluffy. The throttle is a little bit touchy but that’s just because the V10 is so ready to go. You barely big toe it and it starts moving and grooving without much issue and I really like that feeling.

But it’s not very daunting it’s just the size of it with the tow mirrors of course it does make this truck feel pretty large and you do have a lot sitting behind you that we’ll talk about with the back seats.

Vehicle Built for Towing

Vehicle Built for Towing
Vehicle Built for Towing

Got a lot of space back there so you’re moving around a lot of real estate. However, what this vehicle was mainly meant to do was tow.

The owner Ted tows with this. He tows his big camper and he loves it because the whole family can sit inside very comfortably wherever they’re going and they can tow their camper with relative ease.

He said he barely notices that it’s back there with the V10 and so that is a lovely thing to see. Now tow ratings varied on engine and drivetrain setup a little bit but this could tow 11,000 lb which is a huge selling point for this truck and we’ll talk more about that with the final Thoughts.

Inside the 2003 Ford Excursion

Inside the 2003 Ford Excursion
Inside the 2003 Ford Excursion

With all that out of the way, let’s talk about the interior of the 2003 Ford Excursion Limited V10. The dashboard in front of the driver is equipped with a variety of gauges. On the left, we have our fuel and oil pressure gauges; in the center, there is a speedometer and tachometer; and to the right, we find the transmission temperature and coolant temperature gauges.

A notable feature of this vehicle is its fuel consumption, which averages around eight to nine miles per gallon. This means you’ll often see the gas light on, and you’ll likely need a significant amount of money to fill up this truck’s tank.

The steering wheel is user-friendly, with cruise control options on the left and audio mode, volume, temperature, and fan controls on the right. The inclusion of climate controls on the steering wheel is particularly appreciated, as it enhances convenience. To the left of the steering wheel, you’ll find a climate control vent, headlight switches, and a gauge dimmer switch. The door panel includes power mirrors, power windows, and power locks.

Above the driver’s head, there are several practical features, including a miles-per-gallon readout, rear climate controls, rear venting windows, a sunglasses holder, a garage door opener holder, and two lights.

Moving to the center of the dashboard, there are additional climate control vents on either side of the radio. Below the left vent, you’ll find the four-wheel drive settings, which include options for two-wheel drive, four high, and four low, as well as rear defrost and parking sensors.

The central section houses a six-disc CD changer and various audio and phone options. The climate control system, while not dual-zone, offers fan speed and direction settings. To the right, there is a PowerPoint, also known as a 12-volt outlet.

One of the unique features of the Excursion is its pop-out cup holders. Despite their notorious reputation for being ineffective with larger bottles, the Excursion’s cup holders surprisingly pass the big bottle test. However, not all cup holders in the front are as accommodating, with some failing the test.

The dashboard also includes pedal adjustments on the left side, which is a handy feature for customizing your driving position. Additionally, there is a 12-volt outlet and a hook designed for a small trash bag or grocery bag, helping to keep the interior tidy.

The center console offers more storage options, including coin holders and CD holders. At the top of the console, there’s a clip intended to function as a clipboard for important documents. However, due to its soft surface, it may not be the most practical for writing.

The seats in the Excursion are designed for comfort, featuring “Limited” stitching, heating, power adjustments, and memory settings. The front seats are particularly comfortable, making long road trips enjoyable.

Second and Third Row Seating

Second and Third Row Seating
Second and Third Row Seating

Moving to the second row, the Excursion offers ample headroom and legroom. This row is equipped with climate controls and entertainment options, including a DVD player. Passengers in the second row also have access to numerous vents, cup holders, and audio controls.

The third-row seats are equally impressive, providing sufficient space and comfort even for taller passengers. At 5’11”, I found the third row accommodating, with no issues regarding headroom or legroom. This row also includes its own vents and cup holders, ensuring a comfortable ride for all passengers.

One of the standout features of the Excursion is its ability to comfortably seat multiple passengers while still providing substantial cargo space. This makes it an ideal vehicle for family trips, camping adventures, and other activities that require both passenger and cargo capacity.

Cargo Space Galore

Let’s hop into where a fourth row would go and talk about the trunk and cargo space. Around the back of the Excursion V10, there are a couple of things to note. First of all, the tailgate opens in a barn-door style with a little handle down below. This unique opening style is quite interesting and functional.

Despite the spacious back seat, the Excursion offers a substantial amount of cargo space. Even with all three rows of seats in use, there’s still plenty of room for luggage, beach gear, or camping equipment. The trunk area includes a giant spare tire, a jack, and a 12-volt outlet in the wall, showing that Ford thought of everything when designing this vehicle. There are also tie-downs underneath the carpet to secure your items, making it a versatile and practical choice for large families or those needing to transport a lot of gear.

Closing the tailgate involves a simple process: left side first, then right, and finally the top.

The Exterior and Final Thoughts

Driving the 2003 Ford Excursion Limited V10 has reaffirmed my belief that it is one of the best SUVs or trucks ever made. It does everything you want it to do flawlessly and without any trouble. Whether you need to take the entire family on a camping trip, tow a trailer, or transport five kids and a dog, the Excursion has the space and capability to handle it all.

It’s unfortunate that Ford only produced this vehicle for five years, from 2000 to 2005. They had essentially perfected the SUV, so why did they stop making it? The answer lies in government legislation and changing consumer opinions.

The Excursion was released right as the energy crisis of the 2000s was beginning. The government was cracking down on emissions, and being environmentally conscious was becoming more popular. This large, fuel-inefficient vehicle didn’t align with those ideals.

As gas prices rose, sales of the Excursion declined, and they didn’t recover until well after the model was discontinued. Ford filled the gap with the Expedition, another large, three-row SUV capable of towing. However, they switched to independent rear suspension, which reduced its towing capacity, and replaced the V10 with twin-turbo V6 engines. While the Ecoboost engines are good, they lack the low-end grunt that many SUV buyers look for when towing or hauling.

Today, we still have large, three-row SUVs capable of towing, but none of them offer the same experience as the Excursion. The only challenge with the Excursion might be waiting for the heated seats to warm up before you start towing something massive. That was the beauty and glory of the Excursion—it was a unique vehicle that sold poorly during its production run, with only about 200,000 units made over five years.

As time goes on, the number of available Excursions decreases, making them more valuable. I hope you enjoyed this review. A huge thank you to Ted for letting me take out his Excursion.

Ted has been wonderful, not only for the channel but as a friend. He’s been so excited about this Excursion, and I fully understand why. I’m sure we’ll work together again soon.

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