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Truck Hunt 2016: An Excursion in the Barest of Bones

Tim Odell June 30, 2016 Used Car Reviews 23 Comments

2000 ford excursion used car reviewI wondered if the 2001 Yukon’s luxury bits would its (or my wallet’s) undoing and while appreciating the rugged simplicity of the 1991 Suburban found its condition appalling. With that setup, this 2000 Excursion comes bursting through the wall like a cross between Goldilocks and the Kool-Aide man: utility-grade interior, but impeccable condition.

Unfortunately, we aren’t ending it here with me buying this one, but I think we’re a lot closer. I think I want an Excursion, just not this Excursion.

 

With its unapologetically truckish styling and leaf-sprung solid axles, the Excursion really is the early-2000s embodiment of a Box Body Suburban. It also comes factory-equipped with the first couple grand I’d pour into a Box Body if I bought one: full-floating, disc-braked 4.30:1 rear axle, massive front U-joints and crossover steering.

From behind the wheel, this thing feels unapologetically like a heavy-duty truck: tall and jarring, but also snappy off the line with great all-around visibility. Compared to the ’01 Yukon, this one feels a notch quicker and all-around more solid.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the Excursion thrived in the early-’00s era of peak luxo-SUV shamelessness. As such, most are equipped with leather, heated seats and aging aftermarket DVD player systems. While I despise most aftermarket A/V equipment, you’ll forgive my brand bias in trusting Ford with miscellaneous interior electronics more than GM. Basically, I worry less about those luxo-bits in the Ford.

excursion vinyl floor

Though, knowing how we’re going to use this thing, finding a less lux-oriented model means I’ll feel less bad when the junkyard grime of my shirt transfers to the seats. This one was as bare-bones as they come: municipal white paint, steel wheels, minimal creature comforts, vinyl floor and front bench seat. Despite its bottom-spec trim, it was in near-flawless condition and didn’t feel worn at all. Admirable for 170k on the clock.

Unfortunately, the asceticism of stripper-specification was this one’s undoing. While the front bench is great novelty, there’s no adjustability beyond sliding, which isn’t really compatible with 12 hour cross-country drives. The shopping list to complete it adds up quickly: a middle seat belt in the middle row (no idea why that was omitted) and a third row bench plus three belts. Oh, and there’s no rear A/C, which is pretty much an unfixable dealbreaker.

Replacing a bunch of seats and belts atop the $6850 asking price just wasn’t going to cut it. Luckily, I can find V10 Excursions in nearly-as-good shape, but with a full complement of creature comforts (or at least seats and belts) in the $5-6k range all day. Now I just need to be patient enough for the right one to pop up.

Previously on Truck Hunt:

Introduction: Time for a New(er) Tow Rig

2001 GMC Yukon XL (aka Suburban 2500)

1991 GMC Suburban, The Perfect Suburban that Wasn’t

  • P161911

    Isn’t the V-10 notorious for sparkplug popping out? I know that there is an aftermarket fix kit for it.

    • Yes, but If they’ve made it this far and are running decently, they’ve had the plugs done.

    • dukeisduke

      They had problems with early 5.4s and 6.8s launching plugs (not enough threads in the head), but that was fixed later. The later 3v engines used the ultra-slim plugs, and had the opposite problem (part of the insulator breaking off and remaining in the head). I could write an entire article on that problem, and the different methods people used for getting the entire plugs, or broken pieces, out.

      • Sjalabais

        Well, could you? I find it interesting how such a large, established, relatively renowned manufacturer can miss the target on head threads in the first place. Especially on an engine that makes me think about spark plug replacement every time I read about it anyway…

        • dukeisduke

          There were a lot of forum threads about the Triton V8s and V10s and spark plugs on flatratetech.com (a site frequented by mechanics).

  • dukeisduke

    Is this a retired government vehicle? I’m not aware of any Excursion available to the public that was this basic (base trim level was XLT), unless it was some obscure special order vehicle.

    • It’s pretty weird. Also has an old school car phone built in.

      • dukeisduke

        Is it XL trim? I looked in the Wikipedia article, and it says that the XL was almost exclusively fleet sales. IIRC, I read about railroads buying some, and I know some government agencies bought some, including the Feds.

  • CruisinTime

    I would like it so much more if it was not “Lifted”.

  • I’d be all over this. The cargo-hauler-ness of it speaks loudly to me. I say that, of course, being neither kid-endowed nor currently in the market for a utilitarian SUV.

  • I know you’ve already ruled it out, but it’s worth a look at Fuelly to figure out whether the $$$$ / +mpg equation makes the diesel worth it to you. I can vouch for a 7.3L E350 never getting less than 15 with my heavy foot.

    • dukeisduke

      If I were buying an Excursion, it would only be one of the early ones with the 7.3l Power Stroke.

    • Like-for-like is a $7,000 price difference.

      If you say diesel averages 16mpg at $3.28/gal and gas is 12mpg at $2.28/gal (national averages as of today), then they’re roughly the same cost/mile. Tweak the numbers to 18 and 10mpg and it’s 4 cents/mile better.

      At 4 cents/mile, that’s 175k mile to come out ahead of that price difference.

      All that math aside, the $12-13k that most decent diesels are is simply above my price range. There are a couple at 8k, but they’re crazy high miles and reek of basketcase-dom.

  • dukeisduke

    Another common problem with Excursions was the power door lock actuators crapping out, a problem shared with Super Dutys. There are five on an Excursion.

    • Noted.

      …but that’s the kind of thing I’m ok to have to fix, too.

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    One of my neighbours has a green Excursion over here in Finlandistan; usually parked next to a early noughties Fiesta. Another one has a V6 Sebring, and there’s a Voyager too. probably diesel that last one. Then there’s the Nissan Micra Hit with an aftermarket S added, a Honda Stream, a couple of Kia Cee apostrophe ‘D’s, a Prius(this guy also has an extremely orange Harley), and sometimes there’s a Granada Ghia parked down the street, which I think i’ve posted a picture of earlier actually. Oh and a Nissan Primera wagon. And an Cadillac Catera Opel Omega wagon. And of course there’s a Neon.

    Reminds of back in the nineties when a neighbour swapped their Nissan Serena for a Neon and I was amazed by the window sticker. Two litre engine and sub 10 second 0-100kph! Not the only american car back then either, there was a Chevy Van Starcraft diesel and an Astro too. Complete with plywood rear seats; for tax purposes of course. And a GT Mustang with it’s incomprehensibly gigantic 5.0. Back then little I also thought Econoline was “Ecoline” and somehow hinted at it being a very economical thing to run, and thought that was a bit absurd. Also thought SUV stood for suburban vehicle. And I didn’t like the 911 Turbo because I thought naming a car Turbo was about as good an idea as naming it Super or Awesome. Not that I’d ever seen a 911 outside Top Trumps.

    • Sjalabais

      If there ever was a “Who has the neighbour with coolest cars?”-Ask, your mix might come out on top. No Italian or French cars because Scandinavia?

      • Dean Bigglesworth

        Those were just the ones I could think of, the majority of cars are grey hatchbacks/wagons and CUVs. That includes my grey Focus. No Italian or French cars I can think of.. Except for the DS5 I’m driving now.

  • stigshift

    V-10? Seven MPG in town. Nine or 10 Hwy. Makes my old ’73 Lincoln seem economical. And definitely prettier…