Ten Things to Know About the 2018 Ford ExpeditionIt’s been almost 20 years since the Expedition had been so comprehensively overhauled, so it’s got some catching up to do.
Recently, we were given the chance to put Ford’s latest SUV opus through its paces in Alberta’s (pretty much frozen) Banff National Park.
We did a little off-roading, highway work and even some towing to see what the transition to a mostly-aluminum body coupled with efficient turbocharged EcoBoost V6 power has done for Ford’s three-rower.
It’s been almost 20 years since the Expedition had been so comprehensively overhauled, so it’s got some catching up to do.
Aluminum for allWell, not quite all of the Expedition’s body is crafted from lightweight aluminum, but enough has been to help save up to 300 lbs. You can feel it as you set off, the Expedition springing forth much faster than a full-size three-row SUV should. The same goes for the handling and braking, which are undertaken with much less drama than you’d think.
EcoBoost all the thingsOnly one engine is on offer – a 3.5L, twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 – but there are two states of tune, one for standard expedition trims (XLT, Limited) and one for the Platinum trim. The detuned version makes 375 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, while the more powerful tune is good for 470 hp and 480 lb-ft. Both are mated to a standard 10-speed automatic and AWD, and both work in unison with the lightweight body to ensure forward progress is brisk.
Tow everything including the kitchen sinkBeing a pickup-based SUV – the Expedition shares its platform with the F-150 pickup – the Expedition needs to tow no matter the spec. And tow it does, up to 9,200 lbs. thanks to a heavy tow package which adds a larger radiator, 3.73 rear axle ratio, electronic limited slip differential and Pro-Trailer Backup Assist Tech. The latter is on-hand to help you reverse your trailer; activate it with a press of a button, turn a knob to indicate which direction you want the trailer to go, modulate the throttle and the system does the rest. Helped us make a three-point turn…with trailer attached.
Spaciousness aboundsWhile there are two body styles, the larger of the two only adds more room to the cargo area behind the third-row seats. Otherwise, it’s cavernous in here, topped off by a third-row that can actually be used by adults thanks to a lower floor allowed by the Expedition’s independent rear suspension. This way your knees aren’t in your chest, and your hair isn’t brushing the headliner. Optional power-reclining seatbacks—an industry-exclusive—help here, too so even tall folks like myself are accounted for back there. The third row is easily accessed, meanwhile, thanks to a tilt n’ slide second row (so you can leave a baby seat installed, and still get back there), or by threading your way between two optional second-row captain’s chairs.
Take it to the MAXThe larger of the two body styles is called the expedition MAX, and it can be had in all three trims. It adds an additional 230 mm to the wheelbase, and an additional 477 L of cargo space. She’s a big girl, that’s for sure, but unlike how we really felt the weight loss, we couldn’t quite feel the added length. Even when on a tight off-road course that was like “threading a cruise ship through a river”, according to our guide, the MAX was an able travel partner thanks to a well-engineered steering rack and great visibility.
Off-road digsSpeaking of off-roading: thanks to a selection of off-road drive modes such as mud/rut and sand/snow, the Expedition is capable in a multitude of conditions -- we spent most of our time in sand/snow in the wintry mountains around Banff, AB – and to show they’re serious, Ford has provided a multitude of off-road information in the gauge cluster. There, you can see your axle articulation, your climb angle and more. If you want even more capability, then the FX4 off-road package is offered on both Expedition and Expedition MAX. It provides the 3.73 rear axle, ELSD, underbody protection, two speed transfer case and all-terrain tires. We didn’t have the chance to experience trucks equipped with the package here, but we did sample them at the global launch in California and were impressed with just how capable the FX4 truck was. Steep grades on loose gravel were tackled with hardly any wheel slip, and even starting from zero on smooth, dust-covered boulders was a non-issue. You can see how the weight savings help here, too.
Platinum luxuryIf boulevard busting as opposed to boulder busting is more your thing – and for many Expedition drivers, that’s often the case – then the ’18 has you covered in spades, especially in Platinum trim. It provides all manner of goodies, from B & O Play audio (spectacular), to rear-seat entertainment that allows for streaming services such as Netflix, adaptive cruise control, that power-reclining third row we mentioned, park assist and adaptive dampers. At $83,999 it’s not cheap, but I’ve also driven the Lincoln Navigator with which the Expedition shares a platform, and even against its luxury-branded sibling, the Expedition holds its own in the luxury department.
Tech tour de forceEven without the Platinum package, the Expedition is a haven for techies; there are 6 USB ports on-hand (including two in the third row!), WiFi hotspot which can be paired with up to 10 (!) devices, standard SYNC3 infotainment – this remains one of the best interfaces in the biz thanks to its big buttons, responsive touchscreen and uncluttered menus – with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard automatic climate control and standard back-up cam.
Safety ConsciousWhile technology like blind spot monitoring is hardly new in the three-row SUV game, the Expedition takes it a step further by providing a BLIS system that takes into account your trailer’s length. Numerous trailer profiles are on-hand if you are towing multiple trailer lengths, each profile taking into account how long your trailer is.
Priced to competeThe Expedition starts at a little more than a base Chevrolet Tahoe, but as you can see you get a whole lot for your $59,999. Upgrading to a MAX truck will cost you an additional $16,000, while top-spec Platinum MAX models will set you back $83,999.