When T.E. Lawrence was ordered to head into the unforgiving desert of the Arabian Peninsula during World War 1 to make contact with and assess the capabilities of the local rebels fighting against the Turks, he claimed (according to David Lean’s 1962 movie, that is) that it was “going to be fun.”
As it turned out, however, Lawrence’s time in the desert fighting alongside the Hashemite Bedouin people would push the legendary Englishman to the very edge of sanity.
I was heading into the depths of the legendary Wadi Rum as part of Ford’s “Go Further In Arabia” event that was taking place in Jordan. I was one of the few motoring journalists in a sea of “lifestyle” journalists, bloggers and social media “influencers”, that is, people who have a large amount of followers on Instagram and use hashtags a lot, but still seem to be a #Useless #WasteOfSpace.
While the drive wasn’t quite the big off-road desert adventure I had hoped it would be, driving through the Wadi Rum was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that that will stay with me for quite some time to come.
I also got to try some 4WDs I wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to at home, to whit…
Ford F-150 King Ranch
With a four-metre wheelbase and a quite remarkable overall length of 6.2 metres (that’s a fraction under a metre longer than a Ranger), the mighty F-150 King Ranch is a big, fully-loaded piece of Americana that is also a frankly silly two metres wide and two metres tall.
Utterly jammed full of equipment both useful (the very clever camera-aided trailer hitch and backing system and the automatically retracting running boards) and weirdly pointless (the remote tailgate release), the F-150 King Ranch is an all-aluminium example of the current advances actually being made by the US manufacturers to push their most profitable machines into the modern arena.
Nothing flusters it and its sense of being just so damn American is absolute.
After being surprised by how good the F-150 was, the Expedition was a jarring crash back down to earth by being exactly what a big American truck used to be like.
The current Expedition was introduced way back in the distant and murky past of 2006 and is based on the previous-generation F-150 platform. It is a decade old and, even though it has been updated numerous times, it feels every minute of that decade.
Back in 2014 Ford dropped the Expedition’s 5.4-litre petrol V8 in favour of the 272kW/570Nm 3.5-litre EcoBoost petrol V6 and this is literally the only good thing about the old girl.
Slathered in chrome and utterly huge, the Expedition is a striking example of how big a leap Ford has taken with the latest F-150.
The Expedition is due for replacement next year and it really isn’t a moment too soon. Probably more than a few years too late, really.
Ford Edge and Explorer
The Ford Edge has long been rumoured to be heading down our way as a replacement for the Aussie-built Territory when that car goes out of production later this year.
And, although Ford has yet to officially announce it, this is almost certain to be the case.
The Edge's ride quality was impressive on Jordan's broken highways, albeit surprisingly well controlled and firm, with a beautifully controlled feel to the chassis that belied its size. And, yes, the Edge feels surprisingly substantial on the road, even if its exterior styling manages to disguise this to a degree.
The Edge's steering is sharp, precise and nicely weighted, while the chassis' response to any inputs is equally sharp and precise. Being based on the Mondeo platform, the Edge is even more car-like than the Territory (which is obviously based on the elderly Falcon platform), but, as with the Mondeo is a FWD vehicle, with an option of 4WD.