The Ford Expedition hasn’t had a serious redesign in more than a decade, yet it continues to thrive. It has made adjustments along the way that help, including replacing its V8 with a twin-turbo V6 in 2015, while changing the infotainment system to make it less frustrating, and making adaptive suspension available. It can work like a full-size van, as it can seat eight people. Changes for 2017 are not significant.
The Expedition comes in a standard length, and the Expedition EL (extra long) with a massive wheelbase of 131 inches and an overall length that’s 15 inches more, seen in the rear fenders and glass. It offers more cargo space and easier access for the third row. Naturally it’s harder to maneuver around town, but, despite being one of the biggest vehicles available, its handling on the road is manageable.
We think the Expedition is a bit better than the GM utility vehicles, including the Escalade, Yukon, Tahoe and Suburban. The turbocharged V6 is impressive, making 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque that comes at low rpm; this greatly helps with towing up to 9200 pounds. This land yacht will accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in less than six seconds. And sound good doing so, throughout the smooth shifts from the 6-speed automatic.
And if you’re easy on the throttle, it will get 21 miles per gallon on the highway. At least that’s what the EPA says. We haven’t seen numbers higher than 17.8 mpg, and that was on a long highway run. For unknown reasons, the mileage in Ford’s EcoBoost engines hasn’t been meeting the EPA’s test scores. The EPA gives the Expedition 15 City, 21 Highway, and 18 Combined miles per gallon with rear-wheel drive, a touch less with the heavier EL model, and a second touch less with available four-wheel drive.
The Expedition gets five stars from the NHTSA in crash tests, despite only three stars in rollover scores, not surprising given its height and size (the four-wheel drive models get four stars in rollover). The IIHS hasn’t yet tested it. Side airbags, rearview camera, and trailer sway control are standard, with blind-spot monitors available, but no available adaptive cruise control or forward-collision warnings with automatic braking, not even with the expensive Platinum model, even though it’s considered to be like a Lincoln Navigator.
Ford Expedition comes in XLT, Limited, King Ranch, and Platinum. A stripped-down base model can be ordered from the dealer.
Standard equipment on the 2017 Expedition XLT 2WD ($46,225) includes power features, fabric upholstery, adjustable pedals, rear climate control; Ford’s Sync system with Bluetooth audio streaming, a USB port, auxiliary audio jack, and AppLink; satellite radio, steering-wheel audio controls, rear parking sensors, cruise control, flip-up liftgate glass, and 18-inch all-terrain tires. Optional equipment includes leather, power front seats, power-folding third-row seats, power tailgate, and a towing package.
Expedition Limited ($55,370) adds the Sync 3 infotainment system that is much quicker and understandable. It comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, voice command capability, and two USB ports. The Limited also gets automatic climate control, perforated-leather front seats with heating and ventilation, heated second-row outboard seats, a power-folding third-row seat, woodgrain trim, remote start, front parking sensors, keyless ignition, and 20-inch wheels and tires. Options include navigation with HD radio, a power sunroof, and power-deploying running boards.
Expedition King Ranch ($59,940) gets things like leather that feels and smells like a baseball glove, and like that glove it shows its scuffs and requires maintenance. Also a power liftgate, remote start, and 20-inch wheels. Options include 22-inch wheels; load-leveling rear suspension; sunroof; power running boards; and second-row bucket seats.
Expedition Platinum 4WD ($66,347) gets adaptive shocks and 22-inch polished aluminum wheels. Options include wine-colored Brunello leather with tuxedo stripes and French seams, seven-color LED ambient lighting, Ford truck apps for towing, 700-watt Sony sound system with 10 speakers, DVD entertainment.
Ford’s programmable MyKey system allows parents to program a speed limiter, speed alert chimes, and additional belt reminders.
The Expedition’s square-ish profile hasn’t changed much in 15 years, but its edges and details have kept pace with modernization, to soften it. It has a bluff grille with big chrome bars, and a thick chrome strip across the back that visually lowers it.
The Sync 3 infotainment system, now in its third year, is frustrating, but not so much as the previous version was in 2014, if that’s any consolation. However it still looks like it came from 2014, if not earlier, as its 8.0-inch screen is plunked right in the top center of the dash. Two 4.2-inch color screens flank the gauges behind the steering wheel.
A clean centerstack brings some cohesion to the rest of the instrumentation. The wood and metallic trim give it a look of quality. There’s still a lot of black plastic on the dash and door panels, but the fit is generally good.
The seats are wide and well cushioned, and the seating position works for smaller drivers, thanks to power adjustable pedals, telescopic steering wheel, and a high driving position.
Leg and knee room is good in the second row, and the third row can hold grownups for short trips, although access isn’t graceful or even easy. It can be power folded on some models, and a power liftgate is also available, so the cargo-loading potential is vast. Especially with the EL, having 20 cubic feet behind the third row, and a total of 130.8 cubic feet behind the first row. That’s a lot of cargo. Even the regular-wheelbase Expedition has 108 cubic feet.
Visibility is a solid step ahead of the big Cadillac Escalade or GMC Yukon, with window glass that is tall and unobstructed by pillars or headrests.
With the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, you’ll never miss the virtues of the trusty old 5.7-liter V8. It’s also used in the F-150 truck and other Fords. It makes 365 horsepower and growls. The power isn’t explosive, but this tall and heavy SUV is truly quick.
The chassis is aged, but the Expedition with active suspension handles better than most of its rivals. The electric power steering is quick and sharp. The yacht is easy to drive because the steering is also light and precise.
We haven’t driven a 2017 Expedition with the standard suspension, although older models did a good job absorbing bumps with none of the hopping that often comes with solid axles.
The active suspension has normal, comfort and sport modes. The ride is composed. The continuously adjusting dampers filter the bumps and provide a ride that’s almost luxury.
The Expedition’s stability control is programmed to limit instability while towing, by applying the brakes and reducing the power when sensors detect trailer sway.
The Expedition is a bit better than its GM rivals. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 has awesome torque and acceleration, and will make you forget the V8. The six-speed automatic is smooth. The cargo capacity, especially with the longer EL, is vast. The seat and pedals adjust to make shorter drivers comfortable. The third row works for adults on short trips. Expect 18 mpg if you’re lucky.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.