After 12 years and 186,000 miles, I bid a fond farewell to my 1999 GMC Suburban and said hello to an almost new (13,000 miles) 2011 Ford Expedition. Of course, comparisons are inevitable, and the first thing that hit me is just how much smaller 18 inches makes a vehicle when parallel parking. I love my new truck, and perhaps in time all the issues I have with it will fade. Right away, though, there are signs of monkeys in my Expedition.
My complaints have to do with the dashboard. The parking brake release lever and the hood release lever are only about four inches apart and at about the same depth, so you do not have to reach or make any special effort to release the hood. I released the hood when intending to release the brake the first time I drove it. It seems unusual to have the levers so close.
Next is the gas gauge, which is neatly hidden by a spoke on the steering wheel. I have to rearrange either myself or tilt the wheel to see the gauge. It is hard to do this with just a casual glance.
Next is actually a benefit for me. The dash is deep enough that the passenger cannot easily see how fast the truck is going. It is hard for my wife to remind me to slow down, which is great, but I would not have appreciated this feature when I was teaching my kids to drive.
The worst things on the dash are the positioning of the AC/heat fan and the control for going in and out of four-wheel drive. Both are rotary switches of the same diameter and are separated by about four inches. Twice I mistakenly changed to four-wheel drive when I meant to turn the AC on.
I am not excusing myself for inattention, but the poor design can set in motion situations which should never be allowed to happen. This is the seventh four-wheel drive vehicle in my family, and the Expedition is the first where I would inadvertently shift into four-wheel drive mode when all I meant to do was try to cool down.
This entry was submitted by Ralph Wirtel and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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