Everything's bigger in Texas, and that goes double for the trucks-- which neatly explains why the Blue Oval chose to debut the 2007 Expedition at this year's Houston Auto Show. Well, that or Ford elected to unveil their latest away from the bright lights of the 'biggies' (Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) in what might be described as 'tellingly meek' fashion. While there's nothing timid about Ford's biggest bruiser, Ford's quiet unveiling will likely be seen by some as a reaction to the increasing scorn (and decreasing sales) beleaguering the full-size SUV market.

Now available in two lengths, Gigantic (standard) and Leviathan (EL--stretched a further 14.8"), the Expedition effectively replaces the big-daddy Excursion, which be-villained Dearborn among conservationists while netting the automaker handsome profits and devoted fans among those with a penchant for large 'lifestyle accessories.'

The exterior is plainly evolutionary, but appears to have made good use of the three-bar grill spreading throughout Ford's stable, along with a bulging hoodline and confident new headlamps. Overall, the effect is familiar, but easily more successful than the somewhat awkward looking face of the new-for-2006 Explorer.

[Full details and specifications, plus 15 more photos after the jump]

The exterior is plainly evolutionary, but appears to have made good use of the three-bar grill spreading throughout Ford's stable, along with a bulging hoodline and confident new headlamps. Overall, the effect is familiar, but easily more successful than the somewhat awkward looking face of the new-for-2006 Explorer.

When it comes to the greasy bits, the big news is that the 5.4L Triton eight-cylinder (good for 300 horses and 365 lbs.-ft. of torque) is now yoked to a standard six-speed automatic.  As one might reasonably hope for in a vehicle weighing a minimum of 5,500 lbs., enlarged four-wheel ABS-abetted discs are matched with traction control (AdvanceTrac) and anti-turtle tech (Roll Stability Control). All and sundry comes mounted to a closed-box frame 10-percent stiffer than the outgoing Expedition. Properly equipped, the Expedition can tow in excess of 9,100 lbs., or approximately 827 full-grown miniature dachshunds (if one is given to that sort of thing).

On the suspension front, a revised rear five-link setup includes monotube gas shocks and a strengthened rear axle, which still affords enough interior space to fold the third row flat. As is the way these days, rolling stock choices vary from 17" (XLT) to the all-important optional chrome 20" wheels (Limited).

The interior benefits from the dramatic material improvements first issued on the F-150, with options including a rear-seat entertainment system brandishing an 8.5" display, heated and cooled front seats (sorry, kids), and a Centerslide™ middle seat that can be moved closer to Mom n' Dad, Volvo XC-90 style. An improved sat-nav system with 6.5" screen shares console space with an MP3-capable stereo.

Naturally, in case anyone (or anything) is foolish enough to chance a run-in with the Expedition's continental bulk, a raft of airbags stand at-the-ready, including new seat-resident side airbags and third-generation safety canopy covering all-three rows of dachshunds passengers.

With Ford having appeared to have thrown everything in the latest Expedition but the proverbial scullery Kohler, what's missing? A price, for starters. Oh, and those pesky fuel economy figures.

The 2007 Expedition is set to lumber into dealerships this fall.

QUICK SPECS
POWERTRAIN
5.4-liter 3-valve Triton™ V-8
• 300 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 365 lbs.-ft. @ 3,750 rpm
• Standard 6-speed automatic transmission 
 
CHASSIS
Wheelbase: 119.0 in. (EL 131.0 in.)
Height: 77.2 in. (EL 77.7 in.)
Length: 206.5 in. (EL 221.3 in.)
Max width: 78.8 in.
Brakes: Four-wheel power disc brakes with (ABS) and AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control)
 
SUSPENSION
Front: Double wishbone short- and long-arms (SLA) architecture with coil-over, gas filled shocks
Rear: Multi-link independent
 
WHEELS AND TIRES
XLT:  P265/70R17 A/S BSW tires/17 in. painted aluminum wheels
  P265/70R17 A/T OWL tires/17 in. machined aluminum wheels
Eddie Bauer:  P265/70R17 A/S OWL tires/17 in. aluminum wheels
  P255/70R18 A/S OWL tires/18 in. machined aluminum wheels
Limited: P255/70R18 A/S OWL tires/18 in. machined aluminum wheels
  Optional 20 in. chrome clad aluminum wheels
 
CAPACITIES
Seating Capacity: 5-9
Curb weight (2WD):  5,578 lbs. (EL 5,928 lbs.)
Cargo volume behind front row: 108.2 cu. ft. (EL 130.8 cu. ft.)
Cargo volume behind second row:  54.9 cu. ft. (EL 85.5 cu. ft.)
Maximum payload:  1,800 lbs. (EL 1,700 lbs.)
Maximum towing capacity: 9,100 lbs.
 
AVAILABILITY
On sale:  Fall 2006
Price: Will be announced closer to launch
 
These specifications are preliminary and subject to change.

[Source: The Ford Motor Company]