American SUVs tested, and I declare a winner..

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:17
ThreadID: 53853 Views:2249 Replies:5 FollowUps:3
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It wouldn't be as interesting without the whole story, so here it is....
My wife and I have been looking at all the full size SUVs here in the US for a while now, and it's safe to say we have a good perspective on how most of them drive and what they are like inside etc.
First we were interested in the Nissan Armada. We drove it, felt a little wallowy, and lacking power because of the weight. Nice enough to drive, but noticed the 3rd row (although bigger room than a LC200 -which isnt saying alot) was too small for adults (the floor was raised too much), which defeats the purpose of getting something so big.
Then we drove the Tahoe. Completely the opposite feeling in driving dynamics, it was a big car, but better economy, but driving dynamics of a much smaller car. But the 3rd row seating couldnt be folded flat, and only fit midgets comfortably. I read the Suburban had a little more legroom, but we looked at it, and the difference was insignificant.
Looked at the Sequoia and the Durango at the Utah Auto Show, Sequoia wasnt too bad, but the legroom was actually more abundant in the smaller Durango. The LC200 was sitting next to the Sequoia, and the Sequoia dwarfed the LC, at a cheaper price tag too - even with the same engine and tranny.

The Durango had more legroom than the Suburban, so we took one for a drive (with the HEMI V8 of course, and it cruised beatifully. I liked it, cos it had the size and interior of a nice van, simple but roomy, but practicality and driving dynamics of a powerful 4x4 SUV. Since we could get an 07 for $20k here, it's gotta be one of the best buys for your dollar.

There was only one more car to put to the test, and that was the Ford Expedition. I almost ruled it out straight away because i thought it would be just like the Nissan Armada. (This is why i looked at it last) Well, the one we drove was the EL (Extended Length) version. 8 big leather seats, 5.4L V8 - I Have to say its one of the smoothest cars i have EVER driven (and i have driven all the stuff in Oz too), I have driven the X5, XC90, Touareg V10 TDI, so i felt i had a clear perspective on what is out there. Never got to drive a LC200 though - but too small back there anyway. Seriously, the Expedition felt really tight, very easy to drive, very smooth shifting from the ZF 6 speed auto transmission, no wallowing, very quiet ride. There was more than ample room in all 3 rows, legroom, headroom and width. The room in the 3rd row is the same as the 2nd row. I remember reading Land Rover said that about the Discovery 3. But the difference is chalk and cheese. Very tight room in the back of a Discovery 3 in comparison. I wont go in to everything the car has, you can easily look that stuff up, but this car should be available in Australia! I learnt that the shorter Expedition had the same room in the seats as the EL, but didnt have the cargo room behind the 3rd row. Unlike the Suburban, the 3rd row folded completely flat at the touch of a button, and my in town around slow driving city traffic, showed average of 15mpg (15.75L/100km city). I was amazed, i thought it would be much worse. When this car is available with the 4.4L V8 diesel, it will have 246kw/710Nm reports say, and if we dont buy the cheaper Durango now, we will probably wait till next year when the Expedition is available with the diesel, which is what I am more inclined to do! The one we liked most was a Ford, how about that? LOL
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Reply By: KSV. - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:04

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:04
Americans prone to like petrol autos. It is not for me, sorry.
AnswerID: 283495

Reply By: swampy66 - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 16:19

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 16:19
while your on the subject,

whats the difference between an Armada and a Pathfinder?

AnswerID: 283539

Follow Up By: PajeroTD - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 03:43

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 03:43
The Armada is a bit bigger - 5.6L V8, 8 seater -not too bad, the seats arent as thin as they are in the Pathy. Most SUVs have a raised floor after the 2nd row, the Expedition doesnt have that, something to do with it having IRS allows it to have a flat floor all the way. The Armada has the raised floor at the back. Interestingly you can get a standard Pathy with the 5.6L V8 in the US now, haven't driven that though, should go like a rocket.
FollowupID: 548270

Reply By: Geepeem - Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:30

Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 18:30
What was your experience with the the V10 Toureg Turbo Diesel?
That would have to be an awsome truck?
AnswerID: 283578

Follow Up By: PajeroTD - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 03:54

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 03:54
We got to drive that in 2003 at the pre-launch that was held at Werribee. The drive was 50% on road, some city then along a country road at 100km/h (Ballan Rd i think?) to a private property that is used for four wheel driving. The huge amounts of torque is very noticable on road and off-road. Very smooth, nothing to really dislike about it, it would have to be one of the most capable smaller SUVs out there, for towing, on road performance and off-road. Downsides are, it was really, really expensive. You are not getting a large car for your money. And, it was a pre-launch drive, and i remember looking to see if people noticed the car, it just seemed to blend in with everything else. For $140k? Some people don't want that, but for people who don't want something too big, want capability, and have loads of cash, never take more than 4-5 people on board. Highly recommended!

Of course, the V10 diesel was in a class of it's own for a long time too. Fortunately, that is changing, all the full size American SUVs will have powerful diesels by 2010, they say. This would make exporting to other markets more viable. The Expedition we drove was US$34,000 - so if it was in Australia, $60k?
FollowupID: 548271

Reply By: GoneTroppo Member (FNQ) - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 08:00

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 08:00
Brave post, with the Toynisswoo bias here.

I especially liked

"The one we liked most was a Ford, how about that? LOL"

Good on you for calling it as you see it!

OK I admit I'm somewhat biased also, (who isn't) I drive a F250
There is this tendency here to dismiss anything American as "no good yank wank" without due consideration. Jap marketing has done a good job brainwashing people.

BTW I too looked at the Toureg when I was looking for a replacement for the RR. Nice motor that V10 but the rest was blandness taken to a new high especially in silver.
AnswerID: 283661

Reply By: andoland - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 12:33

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 12:33
Geez they must have improved them a bit. I drove an Expedition around for a week back in 2006 and it was a piece of crap. Admittedly it was a hire car but it only had 13,000 miles on it and it felt loose, didn't handle well, seemed to be poorly built and rattled a lot.
Maybe we just had a bad one, but I hope they have improved the quality.
If you want really big why not go for the Excursion?
AnswerID: 283720

Follow Up By: PajeroTD - Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 17:35

Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 17:35
After the dealer showed us the 2007 Expedition EL, he went to get us a 2005 Expedition to show us. HUGE difference. There really is no comparison. The interior quality, is evident on the 2007, and we didnt even want to drive the 2005. Ford dropped the Excursion a while ago, and the Expedition EL replaced it. Never driven a Excursion, but i know how the F250s and F350s drive (even driven the latest F350 twin turbo diesel) and it was awesome, but no comparison with Excursion/Expedition EL. When the Expedition EL comes out in the 4.4L V8 diesel, it will do everything the Excursion did anyway, in a much more efficient, and refined package. The 7.3 Diesel Excursion (apart from being noisy with some turbo lag (but fairly reliable) had 175kw/680Nm, the 6.0 diesel had about 220kw/780Nm, still noisy and very unreliable. The upcoming 4.4L will have 246kw and 710Nm, and will no doubt be quiet and refined, and use less fuel.

Here is the best review of the Expedition EL I have found on the internet, plenty of pics, and theres some other user opinions on there too.
FollowupID: 548386

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