There are SUVs and then there are SUVs; the originals that stay true to their big, body-on-frame origins with motorhome-like proportions and engines that can haul. And after a decades-long wait, Ford has redesigned the Expedition to be more powerful, smarter and more spacious with fuel economy that won’t leave you broke.
Though GM absolutely dominates the full-size SUV segment their big boys are deep into their product cycle with complete redesigns still a couple of years away. So this is Ford’s moment to shine and show the world that the GM twins are no longer the best choices.
Now, there’s the Expedition which is akin to the Tahoe and this Expedition Max which is sized like the Suburban. At 18-and-a-half-feet long it’s more than 5 feet longer than a Fiesta hatchback.
The Max part of this equation adds about another foot to the length of the Expedition resulting in over 70% more cargo volume behind the 3rd row. You also get a gas tank that can hold 5 more gallons, extending the driving range to over 500 miles.
It’s really spacious in here – no duh – but there are some of these types that don’t use their interior volume nearly as efficiently. The Expedition isn’t one of them. All 7 people are going to be very happy in here…OK, maybe 6 and half.
Though the Expedition can be spec’d in an 8-passenger seating configuration, mine has the optional 2nd row buckets that are power folding with a tip-and-slide feature that makes accessing the cabin a breeze though they can get stuck if you don’t move them in one swift motion. But this is 1st class living with big, comfy adjustable seats, climate and radio controls with numerous connection points, a big window overhead – this is long trip cruising done right. Ford continues to pioneer with inflatable rear seat belts, too. And then you’ve got the incredibly spacious 3rd row – a complaint-free zone with power seats and more USB ports. These headrests can be dropped from the driver’s seat too so as to not impede visibility. Back to the cargo area, the seats all power fold with ease to create a massive 121.5 cubic feet of cargo volume, almost 50% more than in an Explorer. Now, the features list says there’s a foot-activated liftgate but after numerous attempts I’ve never seen it work.
Though $80 fill-ups are no fun, this big boy returns about 18mpg. How much more efficient have these powertrains become? Well, this 400 horse V6 with nearly 5,800 pounds on its shoulders nabs almost the same mileage as a 10-year old Ford Escape. The new 10-speed auto has a lot to do with that.
It drives so much smaller than its physical size and that’s probably the best compliment you can pay to a big SUV. GM used to own this trait; not so anymore. The Expedition’s relatively small turning diameter, Active Park Assist System, easy effort steering and 360 degree camera all contribute to simple maneuverability. And the ride quality – spectacular. Without the use of air springs, the Expedition’s continuously controlled damping suspension with an independent rear does an amazing job of providing a stout, forgiving drive free of excess head sway and body roll. The balance between ride and handling elevates it to a class-leading level while the 3.5-liter twin-turbo engine and new transmission work perfectly here. There are various drive modes as well including Eco, Sport and numerous off-road settings. And for those who tow – the Expedition uses its 480 pound-feet of torque and the ultra-cool Pro Trailer Backup Assist to pull 9,000 pounds without breaking a sweat.
What makes the Expedition such a winner is it’s easy to use nature. A big rig like this can be intimidating at first but it plays so small from behind the wheel that even my sister drove it and felt comfortable. Luxurious, quiet, smooth as can be not to mention robustly powerful when it’s your turn to drive, friends, family and neighbors are going to love it. It’s so roomy everyone feels right at home. The price tag for this Platinum model is sticker shock personified but in all honesty it’s got the complete package to back it up. If I could change one thing, it would be the slab sided styling.
How does $82,510 sound for a fully loaded Expedition Platinum Max 4X4? Large and luxurious comes at a price, you know. And you get all of the latest driver assistance features.
There are USB ports all over this thing, plus a Wi-Fi hotspot that transmits beyond the truck’s cabin. Though visually rudimentary, the latest SYNC system is easy to navigate and includes all of the features you want in a modern, connected vehicle. And now that Napster is CarPlay compatible, streaming my music just got safer.
Not being tempted to mess with my phone is a huge plus so having this level of smartphone integration is important. The driver displays are amazing even though there’s no head-up display – the one notable omission. There’s also a conveniently located wireless charging pad, sweet sounding 12-speaker B&O sound system, power adjustable pedals, massaging seats and configurable ambient lighting. There’s a Wi-Fi hotspot, remote start…you name it and Ford put it in the Platinum.
So to GM, Ford says checkmate. The new Expedition is as good as it gets