Too big to fail (the Ford Excursion story)
The Ford Excursion is an interesting, unique, and absurdist automobile. Upon its introduction in 1999, for the 2000 model year, it was one of the largest, heaviest SUVs ever produced. It was based on the chassis of the F-250 and could be optioned with the venerable 7.3L turbodiesel engine developed by International and licensed by Ford. When equipped with the 7.3L, it weighed a whopping 9,200 pounds. That’s five Smart Cars stacked on top of each other and a person sitting in the top one. That’s a Ford Raptor with your aunt’s Honda Accord hanging out of the bed. That’s 328 cinder blocks. Jeez. It also has an absolutely absurd and complicated resale value, caused in part by listings like the ad pictured below. Is that price valid given the market temperature? We’re going to try to find out. To an extent, it still stands in a league of its own. In order to understand its current market value, you first have to consider the many factors that allowed it to come into being at all, and its current relation with the American car buyer.
Why does it exist at all?
Let’s take a step back from discussing its value. Its existence propagated from a mixture of factors. The economic boom in the early 90s (created by either Clinton or Reagan, depending on to whom you pose the question) mixed with gas that was finally getting more affordable, created a massive demand for SUVs. The bigger the better, because of the low economic difference that it made. Climate change be damned, right? I don’t think that existed before An Inconvenient Truth. A clear illustration of this situation: In 1996, Ford opted to discontinue its Bronco line – which had been on sale for 30 consecutive years and had grown by nearly three feet in length – in favor of making the Expedition, an even larger four door SUV for the younger end of the GenX-With-Kids demographic. However, the length and capability of the Expedition ended up slotting in between the Tahoe and Suburban of the similar vintage, creating a predicament for those cross-shopping the two vehicles. That’s not important though.
So… what makes the Ford Excursion interesting?
My personal favorite thing about the Ford Excursion is simple: its massive size literally puts it in a league of its own. It joins the ranks of other oddballs like the Plymouth Prowler, the Isuzu Vehicross, and the Polaris Slingshot of being an option with nothing that can be reasonably cross-shopped against it without casting a very, very wide net. In addition to that, it has a highly desirable engine in the 7.3L, which also creates a bubble in the light-duty truck market. For that reason, it (and those other examples mentioned) has a used market that is completely unpredictable and very hard to quantify. Let’s take a look at some Ford Excursion national values.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, huh? While there is a small positive correlation between price and model year, it is NOT consistent. Out of the 66 data points on the left-hand graph, 37 listings (more than half) are valued at above $10,000, and 17 are above $15,000. And that’s not even the weirdest part. If you look at the right-hand graph (price vs. mileage), you’ll see almost zero correlation. Past 100,000 miles (where a majority of the data falls), the data sits in an unpleasant little square where mileage contributes almost nothing to asking price and some models in excess of 200,000 miles still command over $15,000.
It gets weirder.
When you drill down further to a specific year, you see an even more rampant lack of consistency. The majority of the data past 100,000 miles falls solidly between $15,000-$20,000, and is almost completely irrespective to the listed mileage. In fact, if you look at the quadrant with the highest concentration of data points (100,000-200,000 miles/$10,000-$20,000), there is actually a mild positive correlation between price and mileage. Without any supporting context, this seems totally illogical. There’s only one explanation that makes sense: without any natural predators, the tiger is free to prowl the jungle at will. With no reasonable substitutes, the Ford Excursion may continue to prowl the concrete jungle of the used-car market and set its price based solely on its own fluctuating demand; king of the hill.
You forgot the premium older diesel excursions bring vs newer ones with the 6.0 motor.
People will pay more money for a 200k+ 7.3 excursion than a 100k 6.0 excursion. Its quite an upside down world when it comes to vehicle pricing.
That’s an excellent point. The 6.0 is a good, but inherently flawed motor. Interestingly enough, it seems like the average value for a 2003-2005 model (with that 6.0 Powerstroke – still developed by International Navistar) is HIGHER than comparable mileage models with the 7.3L TD. A great point, though.
The 6.8l V10 option further complicates this analysis. They generally sell for well under $10k and as such (aside from averaging 10 mpgs) can be a great value if looking for a large SUV. The V10s routinely exceed 300k miles without needing major service, parts are cheap and they generally are very reliable motors. I have a 2003 V10 Limited 4×4 as my daily driver and have no regrets…
In order for those graphs to make ANY sense, you have to break the vehicle down NOT by the year, but by the power plant. The value of a 6.8L at 200k miles is not the same as the 7.3L at 200k miles, and neither of those two will be the same as the 6.uh-oh at 200k miles. To lump them all together by model year and mileage is folly.
I can definitely appreciate what you’re saying, and I struggled with that a little myself but there isn’t a good way to do it, unfortunately. I agree that it isn’t ideal, but I think their aggregate value is interesting enough to track, and that there will always be outliers with every engine configuration.
David C says
9,200 lbs is the GVWR, not the curb weight. Curb weight hovers at ~7,000, depending on the motor. The 5.4 V8 is under; the 6.8 V10 may be under or over, depending on other options, and either of the diesels, 7.3 or 6.0, are over 7,000.
I can make sense of it for you as a consumer of this vehicle. I own a 2000 7.3 limited, with 220k miles. I paid $9,300 for the vehicle, because it was from a salt-free state. I purchased it, because it will get at least another 150k miles (I have owned this motor, and brought it to 440k before selling), before the vehicle will start to fail beyond repair.
What this meant to me. To purchase another vehicle that will will get 150k miles mostly problem free that can fit 5 carseats easily, would be a newer suburban. In order to get 17 mpg, and leather, it would need to be a more expensive version. I would likely be paying $50k+.
So for me, it was about economics. The motor is so valuable, because of it’s long-term reliability, I didn’t mind purchasing an older vehicle for 1/5 the value in practicability. However, they are still cool and unique as stated.
Steve Noakes says
I never understood all the eco-fuss with the excursion. A 3/4 ton pickup with the same drivetrain can roll down the road with a couple of people in it and no one turns a head. An excursion rols along behind it, maybe with 7 kids in it headed to summer camp and the greenies have a stroke.
I think there is cultural geography factors at play in the retail price. Someone selling in Los Angeles may ask a lesser price than someone in the oil fields of Alberta or Texas.
The ad in this 2 year old article shows a head scratching price of $10,000. I just found an Excursion advertised for $32000 Canadian with 350,000 kms by a dealer in eastern Canada.
Two years ago I tried to sell my 2000/210,000 km Excursion (I bought it new in 2001. I started at $10,000 and ended up at $5,500 Can over about 2 months. I had one call at $6,000 by a buyer who asked “Why is it so cheap?”
It’s still a lawn ornament under cover at the side of my house. I think I’ll keep it for another 20 years so someone can ask my kids or grandkids “Why is it so cheap?” when there is a $100,000 sign on it.
Have 4 v10’s in the barn now and don’t know why! Bought and sold 4 others prior to these. Just love these big bomb Ford Super Trucks !!Super cool styling and it seems the older they get … The better they look !!! Have a 13 super duty with the new power stroke….so neat…If I could drop the new Diesel into the Excursions….BOOM …Heaven on the roads of America.