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PREVIEW: 2015 Ford Expedition

Nimble truck feels half its size

  • The 2015 Ford Expedition features a new V6 engine and improved driving dynamics - this is the Expedition Max in Platinum trim, a new top-line level - photo by Jil McIntosh - for Wheels

HIGHLIGHTS
ENGINE
3.5L V-6 4WD
POWER
365hp @ 5,000RPM
CURB WEIGHT
2,652 kg
TORQUE
420 lb.-ft. @ 2,250RPM
FUEL TANK CAPACITY
106.0L
ECONOMY
11.8L/100 km
BASE PRICE
$48099
PRICE AS TESTED
NA

2015 Ford Expedition/Expedition Max

PRICE: $47,399-$66,399 (Expedition); $49,799-$68,899 (Max)
ENGINE: 3.5-L turbocharged V6
POWER: 365 horsepower, 420 torque
FUEL CONSUMPTION: TBA
COMPETITION: Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, Dodge Durango, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia
WHAT?S BEST: Powerful V6, great driving manners, comfortable ride
WHAT?S WORST: Interior?s looking dated
WHAT?S INTERESTING:The Expedition first appeared in 1996

Spiffed-up exterior matched by the interior;the cabin is very quiet

DANIELS, W. VA. ? ?I?m off to drive the newest Ford Expedition,? I said to a friend.

?Really?? he said. ?I didn?t think they even made those anymore.?

It?s certainly an honest mistake. Canadians buy about 100,000 light trucks each month ? that includes smaller SUVs and minivans ? but of that, fewer than 1,400 are big, truck-based sport-utes.

Automakers in this niche segment really have just one chance to get it right.

With the 2015 Expedition and Expedition Max, Ford does exactly that. Although it?s not completely redesigned, the driving experience is all-new, thanks to improved handling and a new engine. It?s still as big as before, but on a snaky road through the Appalachian Mountains, the long-wheelbase Max actually felt agile.

The previous 5.4-L V8 is gone, and the sole engine choice is now a turbocharged 3.5-L EcoBoost V6 that?s also used in the F-150. That forced-air injection really pounds in the power, and the V6 makes 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, compared to the 310/365 that the V8 churned out.

The idea behind the turbo is that the engine provides the fuel efficiency of a V6 under light load, but can serve up V8-style power when required, such as when passing or towing (the Expedition goes on sale this fall, so fuel figures aren?t yet available).

These EcoBoost engines get thirstier when working hard, such as pulling a trailer up a hill, but you can help offset that by keeping your foot lightly on the throttle at other times.

The engine and its six-speed automatic transmission work well together: quiet, effective, and effortless when full power is needed. The U.S. market gets two- and four-wheel-drive models, but in our smaller market, it?s 4×4 only.

Pricing ranges from $47,399 to $66,399 for the Expedition, and from $49,799 to $68,899 for the Max, marking a drop from the MSRP on the 2014 models.

Trim lines are the SSV, XLT, Limited, and the new, range-topping Platinum, which was the model I drove (there?s also a King Ranch edition for the U.S. only). Mine included new continuously-controlled damping, a system borrowed from Lincoln.

The Expedition?s electric power steering is already sharper than expected, and the damping system added to that surprisingly sprightly feel on the twisty roads. A button lets you dial it in between normal, comfort and sport settings.

Both Expedition models include three rows of seats, while the Max adds some extra cargo space behind the third one. While the last row in some of these SUVs are cramped and uncomfortable, the Expedition?s are designed for adults, with considerable space for legs and heads, and an easy path to get back there. The cushions are firm, but they?re still livable for shorter trips, and the second and third rows fold flat if you need massive amounts of cargo space.

Ford?s engineers have packed a lot of sound-deadening material into this truck, and along with an acoustic windshield on all models, the upper trim lines use this type of glass on the side windows as well to make the Expedition?s cabin extremely quiet.

The exterior has undergone some minor restyling, including a new grille and headlights. The interior pretty much carries over and is based on that of the current F-150. It?s put together very well, and the Platinum level includes stitched leather upholstery and tasteful woodgrain, but it looks dated.

This isn?t a segment that updates all that frequently, and its Japanese competitors are also still on older interiors, but for 2015, GM is shipping out an all-new cabin on its GMC Yukon, and Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe.

Even so, the seats are very supportive, and the controls are easy to reach. Many of these SUVs spend much of their lives travelling the snowbird circuit, and it?s this type of all-day comfort that drivers and passengers need. They?ll get it here even without moving up to the pricier Lincoln Navigator, which is based on the Expedition and which will also be updated with the new engine and suspension tuning for 2015.

Quite frankly, the Expedition surprised me. I was expecting a rumbly truck that wallowed around the curves, and instead, I found it to be quiet and smooth-running, and it drives like a vehicle half its size.

Does Ford still make the Expedition? Yes, indeed it does.

2015 Ford Expedition

Travel for freelance writer Jil McIntosh was provided by the manufacturer. Email: [email protected],ca

  • PREVIEW: 2015 Ford Expedition The 2015 Ford Expedition features a new V6 engine and improved driving dynamics - this is the Expedition Max in Platinum trim, a new top-line level - photo by Jil McIntosh - for Wheels
  • PREVIEW: 2015 Ford Expedition Both Expedition models have three rows of seats, but the Max is longer for more cargo space behind the rear row - photo by Jil McIntosh - for Wheels
  • PREVIEW: 2015 Ford Expedition The Expedition's interior is based on that of the current F-150 pickup truck and is starting to look a little dated - photo by Jil McIntosh - for Wheels
  • PREVIEW: 2015 Ford Expedition The 2015 Ford Expedition features a new V6 engine and improved driving dynamics - this is the Expedition Max in Platinum trim, a new top-line level - photo by Jil McIntosh - for Wheels

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