DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: This latest 2015 Expedition feels like a half-hearted effort on the part of Ford -- it’s like they decided not to abandon the full-size SUV market, but they also didn’t want to divert a lot of resources into a refresh. The result has some nice features but it’s a distant second compared to its most obvious competitor, the Chevrolet Tahoe.
Ford updated the exterior styling, but just barely. There are some chrome styling bits, and the badges are moved around. Likewise the front end gets a handful of angles added in, but park it beside a 2008 Expedition and you’ll find a lot more similarities than you will differences.
More disappointing was the interior in our so-called Limited trim level. Not unlike the McMansions in whose garages most Expeditions live, everything inside looks nice at first glance, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find bargain-basement materials. Our Expedition wrests the title for worst interior plastics from the Toyota Sienna thanks to its hollow, thin-sounding and almost abrasive dash and fascia. Door panels and door tops front and rear get the same treatment, one that's completely unsuited to a $50K+ SUV. Ford is capable of far better, amply demonstrated by the Fusion, Escape and even Transit Connect -- why they chose to cheap out on the Expedition is a mystery.
Under the hood there’s better news in the form of the outstanding twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that’s gained such accolades from F-150 buyers. There’s plenty of power to move the huge Expedition around, but don't get fooled by the “Eco” part of EcoBoost: Even with very conservative driving and a long stretch of interstate travel, I was unable to top 16 mpg combined. Consider this six a capable hauler but don’t expect miracles at the gas pump.
In the end, unless you’re a Ford die-hard or find yourself enamored of the Bush 43-era styling, there’s no reason to choose an Expedition over a Tahoe: The Chevy is arguably more attractive, much better trimmed inside, about the same price and actually achieved better real-world fuel economy in our fleet even with a 5.3-liter V8 engine.
Ford updated the exterior styling, but just barely. There are some chrome styling bits, and the badges are moved around.PHOTO BY FORD
ONLINE FEATURES EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I did not expect to like this 2015 Ford Expedition Limited. I always thought they were too big, too unwieldy, and used too much gas. I hadn’t driven one in what seems like years, though, and this new model greatly exceeded my expectations.
The grille looks better than past years and the wheel choice is surprisingly flashy. I don’t like that chrome strip across the back though. It’s too much.
The interior is a little drab, but at least my Apple iPhone worked right away with the MyFord Touch software. I’m also glad it has redundant controls for tuning, seat heat and other functions. There’s still a ton of space, which is what the Expedition always excelled at.
Power from the EcoBoost V6 is more than enough to pull this car around. I thought it was a V8 until I saw the EcoBoost badge. That’s been happening a lot lately; I need to recalibrate my butt dyno, apparently. It has a nice clean sound, too. There’s just a little grumble coming from the firewall. The six-speed auto was unremarkable.
The starting price seems about right. It compares almost exactly to the Chevy Tahoe. They’re both good cars, though. You can’t go wrong either way.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: If it weren’t for the Lincoln Navigator, I don’t know that the Ford Expedition would still be in production. In fact, I’m not sure that many people even realize they’re still making these -- like the Honda Ridgeline, they seem to occupy a sort of unheralded half-life until one day, to the dismay of no one in particular, the line finally shuts down for good. So anyway, you can still buy a new Ford Expedition! That’s great news for all those mid-’90s soccer moms out there, I guess.
As someone who enjoys an old body-on-frame SUV from time to time, I kid -- at least partly. There are still drivers who genuinely need the cavernous room that an Expedition offers, along with that 9,000-lb-plus towing capacity (a full 2 tons greater than a maxed-out Explorer, for comparison’s sake). Problem is, Ford knows that there aren’t many buyers who meet those criteria. Consequently, those who do will have to put up with interiors that, unlike that smooth, powerful EcoBoost V6, haven’t really evolved much since the hard-plastic days of the 1990s.
Ford isn’t the only one to realize this; you’ll be shocked at what passes for luxury in a $70,000 Toyota Land Cruiser as well. Compare to GM: Chevrolet and GMC trucks are simply nicer inside and out, though you do lose 1,000 pounds max towing capacity on the Suburban and those big V8s will ding fuel economy, you’ll be happier behind the wheel in the end.
Look, there was a reason these vehicles were popular a decade and a half ago: Gas was predictably cheap (don’t kid yourself, this current round of inexpensive fuel can’t last forever), minivans were uncool and crossovers didn’t exist. Frankly, Detroit couldn’t really be trusted to bolt together a world-class smaller car and no one really expected any refinement out of the Big Three’s SUVs.
Things have changed. Entire segments have risen and fallen since the Expedition emerged in 1996. The best thing about today’s truck is its comparatively forward-looking turbocharged V6. It’s a shame that the rest of the product hasn’t caught up with the powerplant, because there still is a case to be made for boxy behemoths like this -- even at $60,000.
Under the hood there’s better news in the form of the outstanding twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 that’s gained such accolades from F-150 buyers.PHOTO BY FORD
SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR NATALIE NEFF: They still make a Lincoln Navigator?! Kidding.
Still, I think Graham’s contention is a bit off. Can’t see the higher-ups at Ford acquiescing to build 45,000 Expeditions simply to roll some 9,000 Navigators through showrooms. The math, no matter what kind of profit you’re pulling, just doesn’t add up.
That said, both vehicles are aged, and aging poorly. The Expedition looks like a fairly different vehicle than, say, the 2007 model, but it’s largely the same truck. The differences, for the most part, are highly superficial in nature, the biggest exception being the addition of a fantastic EcoBoost V6 underhood.
It cannot be said enough, this engine is fantastic and PERFECTLY suited to moving this gigantic truck around. I enjoyed experimenting with speeds, accelerating and decelerating, mixed throttle inputs, etc., just to feel how flexible the engine is. While it doesn’t make the Expedition feel exactly fast, it does do an amazing job of masking the truck’s heft, almost 3 tons of it. Truly a great powertrain experience.
But the rest of the Expedition? Meh. It just cannot compete with the General’s best. Andy is spot on in saying that most people looking for this type of vehicle would be so much better served by opting for a Chevy Tahoe. It has everything to do with the fact that time spent behind the wheel of a full-size SUV is made all the more enjoyable when the environment is comfortable, and the plastics employed in large swaths of the Expedition’s interior are of 2012 Honda Civic quality (at least that’s the worst I can think of off the top of my head). It’s simply atrocious. And we’re talking about a vehicle that starts at $44,000; in this configuration, approaches $63,000; and fully loaded gets darn close to $70K. When Ford builds the next-gen Expedition in a year, the one that will be based on the brand-new all-aluminum F-series, I’m positive that will change.
The 2015 Expedition gets a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6.PHOTO BY FORD
WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: It’s too big! Driving this thing around is like piloting an office building. And not one of those small, efficient office buildings used by startups in the Silicon Valley. This is like driving a large bank branch building or a regional hospital. You can’t possibly see all the corners, a shortcoming for which Ford and other behemothmakers try to compensate by adding all kinds of ridiculous beeping, dinging and chirping sensors that never really help. They are set at way too safe a trip level so they start making noise when you’re still nowhere near the wall/lamppost/parked car they’re warning you about. Thus, you assume the things are not being realistic as they tweep at increasingly panicked frequencies when you are nowhere near hitting anything. So you proceed onward using the same Spidey sense you would have used anyway while the darn things beep and chirp. Gah! Why must cars ding, ah-oo-gah and uselessly buzz so much? Attention carmakers: I don’t like the noise, noise, noise, noise! All those Whos down in Whoville should shut the high Hades up! And get off my lawn!
What was the question? Oh, yes, the Ford Expedition. OK, so it competes with the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon and Dodge Durango. In Ford’s (and everyone else’s) ongoing and eternal efforts to improve CAFE, the 2015 Expedition gets a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6. The turbos and Ford’s direct injection give the engine a peak output of 365 hp and 420-lb-ft of torque. Sure, you say, it’ll hit those peak numbers, but it must do it way up in the useless part of the tach. Ah got children to tow! Well, after driving the Expedition for a week towing -- or rather, carrying – children, I never felt it was peaky. I never really floored it most of the time, either, until I was timing it to 60. The most impressive thing about the engine is that it launched this huge houseboat to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. I never would have thought it’d do that. Those numbers were the same whether I brake torqued it or just floored it, 6.5 seconds. That ain’t bad at all. I could learn to live with this Ecoboost stuff. Peak power comes at 5,000 rpm, true, but peak torque is listed at 2,500. So it works out to a useable set of curves. Ford lists mileage at 16 city and 22 highway on regular gas for my 2WD test car, which isn’t bad for something this huge. I got 16.2 mpg during the week I had it, which included a balance of city and highway driving.
I couldn’t live with all the options on my Ex-perdition, though. My option package included Group 301A: power-deploy running boards (aka Whack-A-Shin), power moonroof and navigation. All I’d want is navigation, why must I get those other two useless “features,” too? Another option listed the 22-inch wheels, which fill the wheelwells nicely and might even be worth getting. (Are these the “double dubs” the kids are all talking about?)
I don’t know where in urban or suburban America these full-size SUVs from any manufacturer actually fit, but it’s not anywhere near my lifestyle. Maybe my colleagues in Detroit, with their big Midwestern garages and double-wide parking spaces, use these, but they’re not for me. Which is not to say they’re not for you. They do have a couple acres of room in back and I liked the power-fold-down rear seats. Maybe I could learn to adapt?
Power from the EcoBoost V6 is more than enough to pull this car around. I thought it was a V8 until I saw the EcoBoost badge.PHOTO BY FOR
Options: Rapid spec 301A including power moonroof, power-deployable running boards, voice-activated navigation, HD radio ($2,785); polished 22-inch aluminum wheels ($2,180); second row bucket seats ($795); blind spot info system ($490); rapid spec discount (-$635).
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