If bigger equals better, Ford's Expedition ranks as a top dog.
Expedition, and its supersized variant, Expedition Max, measure in as one of the largest non-commercial vehicles from the Blue Oval conglomerate. Don't let its good looks mislead any one; this body-on-frame (truck underpinnings) bruiser is built Ford tough.
A prime factor when purchasing any full-size Sport Utility Vehicle: towing prowess. Expedition delivers a segment-leading 9,300 pounds of haul-ability while able to swallow up to eight riders in relative comfort.
In the 2018 model year, Expedition underwent an impressive and extensive fourth-generation redesign, shedding an average of 300 pounds, improving fuel economy and tweaking creature comforts. Wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles) grew by three-and-a-half inches, expanding leg room, notable in back rows. The first-generation Expedition arrived on the scene back in the 1997 model year.
Weight savings result from aluminum-type body panels, a bold move first incorporated into full-sized Ford's F-150 light-duty pickup trucks during the 2015 model year. Ford's venerable F-150 continues as the best-selling vehicle in America for the past 37 years.
The average Expedition transaction price in 2018 reached a healthy (from Ford Motor Company's perspective) $62,700 while retail sales increased 35 percent. Later this summer, Ford's Louisville Kentucky assembly facility (home to Expedition and its kissing cousin, Lincoln's Navigator) plans to increase production by 20 percent to meet consumer demand.
Ford shoppers looking for an even larger SUV foot print may opt for the Expedition Max, stretching overall length by 11 inches (and available in all trims). Garage-ability could be a concern with Expedition Max (my abode being a prime example). Smaller garages (or car ports serving double duty as storage facilities) may not accommodate these behemoths.
Three dealership-available trims return from 2018: XLT, Limited and top-shelf Platinum. Each offers a handful of optional equipment packages. New for 2019 is Expedition's 'Stealth' package available in Limited trims with gloss black highlights on the five bar front grille, 22-inch premium painted aluminum wheels, headlamp and tail lamp housing and red interior stitching.
Our stretched Expedition Max Premium tester started at $79,200. An optional $1,570 equipment package included a heavy-duty trailer tow package and after factoring in a $1,295 destination charge, the bottom line reached $82,065. The top-line Platinum now comes standard with bright roof rails and end caps in 2019. A 4x2 XLT starts a shade above $52,000.
While eight-passenger, three-row seating comes standard, buyers may opt for a second row featuring two Captain's chairs and overall seating for seven. The far-back row handles three adults better than just about any crossover/SUV competitor, including Chevrolet's Tahoe, Expedition's closest domestic competitor.
Expedition includes electronic push-button start standard. Shifting out of park and into reverse or drive also involves an electronic gizmo in the form of a tactile, rotary chrome dial between front buckets monitoring a seamless-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission.
This standard transmission mates to Ford's highly regarded 3.6-liter V-6 twin turbocharged engine registering 375 horses, the sole powertrain offered requiring regular, 87-octane regular gasoline.
Turbochargers run off of recycled exhaust gases spinning a pinwheel-inspired turbine to pump concentrated air into the engine, increasing horsepower output without adding undue weight. Ford's twin turbocharging splits turbocharging duties equally. Each turbocharger is driven by half of the engines spent exhaust resulting in less turbo lag (a hesitation during heavy acceleration).
This V-6 never felt challenged or overwhelmed despite the Max's rather hefty 5,800 pounds while all the time Expedition's interior remained remarkably quiet.
For a vehicle of this girth, gas mileage averages an impressive 17 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway when opting for standard rear-wheel drive. While not the same results found in Ford's compact Escape car-based crossover, these estimates top Chevy's Tahoe (15 and 22 respectively) and play in the same highway neighborhood as a recently tested, comparatively lighter, compact Jeep Wrangler four cylinder (22 mpg city/24 mpg highway).
Expedition Max steers like a sedan half its weight thanks to electronic assist rack-and-pinion steering and independent rear suspension. Parking in area shopping malls may take some getting used to especially with Max-length editions as nimble moves in narrow rows require some negotiating skills.
The substantial 9.8-inches of ground clearance necessitate side running boards assisting entry. Our Platinum trim included standard power deploying running boards, sliding out from the side body when doors open, retracting tightly against the frame, contributing to a smooth look. Power running boards are optional in Limited.
Arrow-head shaped side-view mirrors allow for a decent peek at side traffic, but a low-tech concaved insert could highlight pesky spots better.
Platinum trims include power-folding second and third row seat backs when cargo needs transport. Well-marked buttons on the cargo regions left rear power backs up and down. A whopping 104.6 cubic feet of space is available behind front buckets in the conventional Expedition. Opt for the Max version, and that number swells to 125.
For those requiring steady use of third-row seating, Expedition and Expedition Max offer adult-sized comfort for three occupants. Some mid-size crossovers talk a good game concerning way back seating livability, but Expedition delivers. Ford does a nice job of welcoming riders to the back row with manual tilt-forward second-row seat backs and slide-forward seat cushions, opening up a generous-width entry way.
While inside A-pillar handles assist drivers and shot-gun passengers up front, B-pillar grab handles not only serve second-row visitors, but third-row guests as well. With second-row cushions forward, running boards and grab handles ease entry substantially. Ceiling air vents and cup holders welcome third-row riders while second row travels enjoy their own temperature and fan-speed controls and Smartphone plugs. For non-adult riders, row two includes three car seat connectors while way back includes two.
The all-business, rectangular, instrument panel mimics that of Ford's F-150 pickup featuring two large analog orbs (tachometer, speedometer) and four quarter gauges framing the horizontally along the top. A digital center screen utilizes push-buttons on the four-spoke, manual tilt-and-telescope steering wheel to cycle through such activities as side blind spot monitors and lane keep assist.
A medium-sized in-dash eight-inch touch screen centers the front, welcoming Apple Car Play and Android Auto Smartphone interplay. The screen design is relatively intuitive with a bottom row menu of options. New for 2019, a 4G Wi-Fi hot spot telematics modem marketed as FordPass helping better connect with the cloud and internet.
While two-wheel rear drive comes standard, many buyers could be tempted by Ford's 'Control Trac' four-wheel drive, which shifts 'on the fly' from two-wheel high to four-high via a quad-portion electronic push panel near the transmission dial.
It's never too early to think of summertime delight, and Expedition complies with the segment's largest sunroof covering the first two rows. 2019 Ford Expedition
Price as tested: $82,065
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Wheelbase: 131.6 inches
Overall Length: 221.9 inches
Overall Height: 76.4 inches
Overall Width: 93.4 inches
Curb weight: 5,794 pounds
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city 21 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Five years/60,000 miles
Assembly: Louisville, Kentucky