The Ford Expedition was completely redesigned for 2018. Still based loosely on Ford's F-150 pickup, the Expedition is a 7- or 8-passenger 4-door SUV that comes in regular and extended length (MAX) models. It's offered with rear or 4-wheel drive and comes only with a turbocharged V6 engine. Competitors include the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.
After a complete makeover in 2019, changes for '19 are minimal and include the addition of the Stealth Edition package. The Expedition is slightly longer and wider than the model it replaced. It's also up to 300 pounds lighter thanks to extensive use of aluminum body panels. The regular model has a 122.5-inch wheelbase and the Max ha a 131.6-inch wheelbase.
Three trim levels are offered: XLT, Limited and Platinum. All get a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission. XLT and Limited models have 375 horsepower and the Platinum gets 400 horsepower. Ford claims the Expedition's 9,300-pound towing rating is best in class.
Prices start at $52,130 and climb to more than $76,060 on the Platinum Max. Key available features include power folding third-row seats, FX4 off-road package, LED fog lamps, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats with massaging action, power-deploying running boards and second-row inflatable safety belts. The new-for-2019 Stealth Edition adds 22-inch black-painted wheels, gloss black exterior trim and red interior stitching.
While most competitors offer V8 engines, the Expedition comes only with a turbocharged V6. Makes no matter, Expedition is likely the quickest vehicle in the class. The smooth and powerful EcoBoost engine makes plenty of power down low and effortlessly pushes the 5500-pound Expedition from 0 to 60 MPH in a scant 7 seconds. Passing response is also quite good. There are several drive modes, including Sport, Normal and Eco. As you might expect, performance is best in Sport mode. When in Eco, acceleration feels somewhat blunted off the line.
The 10-speed automatic transmission is the result of a collaboration with General Motors. It's found in everything from the Mustang to the Silverado. In the Expedition the 10-speed is a great fit, offering quick-and-crisp downshifts and smooth-and-buttery upshifts. In addition, it allows the engine to loaf along at less than 2,000 RPM at highway speeds in an effort to improve fuel economy.
Expedition's four-wheel-drive system offers several modes: Rear-drive, 4WD Auto, 4WD High and 4WD low. The 4WD Auto is the important setting. Once selected, this mode transfers power to the wheels with the most traction automatically. It allows drivers to set and forget and always get the best traction on slippery roads. However, in deep snow or muddy conditions, it's best to use 4WD High or 4WD Low. There's also a dial that allows the driver to fine-tune the 4WD system's performance. Modes include snow, mud, towing, etc.
EPA Fuel economy numbers for the Expedition Max are 16 MPG city and 21 MPG highway. Ford claims those numbers are best in class and the EPA agrees, though some Chevy models have slightly better highway numbers. The EcoBoost V6 runs fine on regular-grade gasoline and the 23.3-gallon fuel tank offers an effective range of about 500 miles. Because this is such a large and heavy vehicle, in routine suburban driving, you'll likely average less than 20 MPG overall. If your commute includes some gentle highway miles, you could see that average tick up to the EPA's 21 MPG rating.
Thanks to a stiffer frame and some significant suspension enhancements, Ford has made great strides in the ride and handling department with this new Expedition. Gone is the bobbing-and-bounding sensation that handicapped the old model. The current Expedition rides with a refined smoothness that eschews its trucky upbringing. The suspension offers good impact absorption and plenty of travel over expansion joints. There is also great rebound control that helps limit head toss on bumpy roads. Still you have to remember, this is a large vehicle (especially the MAX) and there's going to be some bouncing when driving at slower speeds on badly broken roads.
At the same time, the Expedition is extremely easy to drive -- no small feat given its massive dimensions. The steering, though firm, is natural and direct with just enough feel on the highway to track straight and true. Unfortunately, it's very slow. That means lots of steering input when rounding corners or parking. Brakes have ample stopping power regardless of load. There's some body lean in quick maneuvers, but there's no queasy feeling when transitioning sharp corners.
Interior noise levels are appreciably low as well. Of course, there's a bit of wind noise from the side mirrors at highway speed, but the tires and engine are nearly silent and it's easy to have a conversation front-to-back on the highway. Overall, Ford's hit a home run in the driving dynamics department with this new Expedition, perhaps the one area where the outgoing model needed the most help.
The interior will be very familiar to Ford fans. Drivers face a traditional twin dial setup with a large and programmable center information screen. The center stack is dominated by a large touch-screen display and simple rotary controls for the climate and audio systems. Materials seem to be a cut above the norm, but there's a definite family familiarity with the F-150 in the layout and a few of the surfaces.
Front seats are extremely comfortable and well padded. They offer great leg and head room for extra-large adults and adjustable pedals for those that are not so tall. The available massaging seats are great and can reduce driver fatigue. The step in is rather high on 4WD models, though the available power running board can help ease access. Outward visibility is good, but you'll need all of the electronic aids in parking maneuvers.
The second row can be had in two configurations, a 3-place bench or twin captain's chairs. The bench is a bit flat, but the captain's chairs are impressively comfortable. Either way, there's plenty of room in the second row for larger adults. Third-row seats can be a chore to access if you opt for the second-row bench. However, once you get back there, you'll find that they are quite adult comfortable and offer good room.
Expedition offers the latest version of Ford's SYNC infotainment system. It nicely blends Android Auto and Apple Car Play support into an easy to see and utilize touch screen. Other manufacturers could take notice of how well Ford, GM and FCA integrate the infotainment system in to the vehicle to minimize drive distraction and provide the easiest access to every-day functions. Expedition also comes with a comprehensive suite of safety and security features, though some are optional.
Maximum cargo capacity on MAX models is 121.5 cubic feet, while short-wheel base models top out at 104.6 cubic feet. Impressive numbers both. More importantly though is the cargo space with the third-row in use. On the standard model that number is just 20.9, while the Max has 36. Both the second and third-row seats fold to create a continuous and flat load floor. Interior storage is great with lots of open and covered bins throughout.
Bottom Line -- Ford's Expedition has consistently played second-fiddle to the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban twins. That changes with this latest generation. It's now the benchmark that the others are chasing. The deft combination of ride quality, quietness, performance and utility makes Expedition a must see for full-size SUV shoppers. Prices can be steep, though that's the price of admission in this class, so choose your trim and options wisely. Remember, all models get roughly the same mechanicals.