Should You Take a Ford Excursion Off-Road?

It’s not exactly a trail conqueror, but the Ford Excursion can handle some light off-roading under the right circumstances.
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Available from 2000 to 2006, the
Ford Excursion
is a monstrous SUV that can hold its own out on the trail, under the right circumstances. The Excursion is the longest and heaviest SUV to enter mass production and it has legions of devoted fans to this day.
We spend so much time on the road these days—driving to work, getting groceries, picking up the kids—that sometimes all we want to do is go someplace without a strip of pavement in sight. Driving an off-road vehicle opens up great swathes of the outdoors that are inaccessible to normal cars, but does the Ford Excursion make the cut?
, the
super app
and easiest route to
car insurance
savings, can tell you all about the Ford Excursion’s off-road performance. We’ll go over some of the most important specs and even give you a few substitutions if the Excursion doesn’t quite float your boat.

Can the Ford Excursion go off-road?

To an extent, yes. While the Excursion won’t leave you stranded out on the trail, it still can’t quite keep up with other SUVs geared more towards off-road performance, like the
Land Rover Defender
Although the Excursion has been out of production for almost 20 years, used models can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000+, depending on trim, mileage, and driving history. The Excursion was offered in four main trims, available in rear-wheel drive (standard) or four-wheel drive (optional). It also had serious engine options, including a 5.4L V8, 6.8L V10, or even a 7.3L PowerStroke V8 turbo diesel. 
Let’s take a look at some other important off-road specs and how the Excursion performs in each category.
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Ground clearance

A critically important specification to know before going off the beaten path is your vehicle’s ground clearance, which is a measurement of the space between the ground and your vehicle’s undercarriage. Experts recommend a minimum of 8.5 inches of ground clearance before going off-road.
The Ford Excursion just barely misses the mark in this category, only offering 8.1 inches of underbody clearance. Luckily, though, the gap is small enough that you might be able to fix it by buying some bigger tires or maybe even a lift kit. Otherwise, your Excursion will be at a much greater risk of suffering chassis damage from rocks, sticks, and the like.


Another part of ideal off-road performance is low-end torque, which equates to high amounts of torque at a lower RPM. Basically, it’s more important to keep the wheels in motion than it is to go fast when you’re out on the trail.
The Ford Excursion can put out 350 lb-ft @ 2500 RPM. That’s pretty darn impressive, but you have to remember that the Excursion is a massive vehicle. That’s a lot of weight being thrown around, and the rocky, uneven nature of off-road trails certainly won’t help.


The tires you use will play a big part in how your vehicle performs off-road. Luckily, the Excursion sports a set of LT265/75R16 A/T tires.
A/T, or
all-terrain tires
, are the best choice for excursions into the Great Outdoors. They typically feature an open tread pattern with a strong grip, so that your vehicle maintains good traction and doesn’t bounce you around the cabin. They’re marketed toward people who want to combine off-road adventures with everyday driving, but they’re not quite as durable or long-lasting as regular all-season tires.


All-wheel drive (AWD) is another must-have for the best possible performance out on the trail. Standard Excursions feature a rear-wheel drive system powered by either a four- or five-speed automatic transmission, but AWD was available as an optional upgrade during their production run.


We hope you paid attention in geometry because off-roading is all about angles. In particular, you need to be aware of your car’s approach angle and departure angle:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
It might be because of its gargantuan size, but the Excursion doesn’t impress in this category. With approach and departure angles of 25 and 15.1 degrees, respectively, the Excursion doesn’t have any business climbing anything.

Off-road rating: In a pinch

We’ve rated the Ford Excursion using
in-house DIRT rating system, explained in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
By Jerry’s reckoning, the Ford Excursion earned itself an I rating, though you could make a strong case that, with the right upgrades, it could easily cross over into Rough and Ready territory. 
Stock models, while powerful, are just a bit too unwieldy and low to the ground to excel out on the trail. Plus, with a vehicle that has been out of production for so long, the repair costs would probably be a nightmare if anything were to break! 

The best off-road alternatives to the Ford Excursion

If you simply must drive the biggest, heaviest, and longest vehicle on the highway, then you really can’t beat an Excursion with anything other than a semi-truck. If the costs seem prohibitive, though, or you decide it’s maybe a little too big, you’d be better off looking elsewhere. 
Whatever your reason, let’s take a look at some good substitutes for the Excursion:
2001 Chevrolet Suburban
The classic big SUV, the Suburban dominated the market segment for decades. It’s equipped with powerful V8 engine options and enough storage space to host a Thanksgiving dinner.
2003 Mercury Mountaineer
If you decide you want something a little more luxurious, the Mountaineer is a great choice. It has comfortable seating, a good suspension system, and strong powertrains. There’s even a DVD player!
2003 Cadillac Escalade ESV
A modern classic, the Cadillac Escalade has the best towing capacity in its class as well as surprisingly nimble handling and a hearty powertrain. Oh, and it looks really cool, too.
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Buying an off-road vehicle can be expensive, and getting insurance for it can be even worse. Insurers see it as a dangerous hobby and will charge a higher rate for your premium, no matter how good your approach/departure angles are. 
If you’re wondering what the solution is, wonder no further because you can use
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