Fully redesigned for the 2018 model year, in accord with the more luxurious Lincoln Navigator, Ford’s biggest SUV gets a fresh look and aluminum-intensive construction. Blending the appearance of Ford’s crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks, the 2018 Ford Expedition could be considered as essentially an F-150 pickup that happens to have three rows of seats.
We’ve found the all-new 2018 Expedition to be smooth and sophisticated both in ride quality and power delivery, with comfortable accommodations. It’s a good choice as a vehicle that can tow trailers and haul passengers, enjoyable for long trips.
The 2018 Expedition offers three trim levels: XLT, Limited, and Platinum, built on either a short or long wheelbase. Dubbed Max, the long-wheelbase versions measure an additional 9.1 inches, between front and rear axles.
Familiar to Ford fans, the latest rendition of the popular EcoBoost twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 generates 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. In Platinum trim, the V6 reaches 400 hp and 480 pound-feet.
A new 10-speed automatic transmission was developed in a joint venture between Ford and General Motors. Rear-drive is standard, but each version can be fitted with four-wheel drive. Stop/Start technology is standard, as it is on most vehicles now, to improve EPA scores.
As always, the Expedition is one mammoth vehicle, boasting a cavernous cabin. Sharp steering and a fully independent suspension help make it feel smaller on the road. The improvement is especially noticeable when parking. Towing capacity of up to 9,300 pounds rivals that of some full-size pickup trucks.
An abundance of standard and optional equipment makes the Expedition’s price range broad.
Quite a few active-safety features are available, from blind-spot monitoring to full-speed automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Most safety items are optional, offered in groups, though some are standard in upper trim levels.
More than one hefty-priced package might be needed to equip an Expedition with adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning.
Expedition XLT ($51,695) and Expedition XLT Max ($54,385) come with rear-wheel drive, tip/slide second-row seats, power-folding third-row seating with recline, power driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels, heated power mirrors, cloth upholstery, Sync infotainment, pushbutton start, and rearview camera. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $1,195 destination charge.)
Four-wheel drive is included with the XLT 4×4 ($54,705) and XLT Max 4×4 ($57,390).
Expedition Limited ($62,585) and Max ($65,270 Max) have 20-inch alloy wheels, power running boards, and Sync with wi-fi hotspot. Limited 4×4 ($65,705) and Max ($68,400) have four-wheel drive.
Platinum ($72,710), Platinum 4×4 ($75,855), Platinum Max ($75,400), and Platinum Max 4×4 ($78,545) get a 400-hp version of the V6 engine, 22-inch wheels, a panoramic roof, and adaptive cruise control.
Completely redesigned, the 2018 Expedition handily surpasses its predecessor, based upon exterior details and a substantially modified cabin. Although essentials of the chiseled-look F-150 are evident, they’re counterbalanced by the agreeable grace of Ford’s passenger-carrying crossovers.
Basically slab-sided, the overall design seems charmingly old-fashioned, yet freshly new. A dead-straight beltline complements the expansive greenhouse, helping to impart a sense of openness to the cabin. Headlights that suggest C-clamps look smoother. Taillights are LEDs, shaped like those on the Explorer.
Spacious, comfortable seats in all three rows, augmented by abundant cargo space, give the Expedition’s cabin high marks. Attractive materials and admirable build quality amplify its appeal.
Lovely upholstery stitching helps make the top Platinum edition especially worthy of praise. Still, its genuine wood accents and beautifully-stitched leather seem more appropriate for the defiantly luxurious Lincoln Navigator.
Fit and finish of the dashboard score highly, though it hasn’t changed appreciably. The center console holds a rotary-dial gearshift. Sync 3 infotainment beats Ford’s earlier systems.
Expansive front seats are enticingly padded. Second-row seats are nearly as comfortable and slide fore/aft. They can also tip forward to ease third-row access, without removing a child’s car seat. Tall doors make it easy to enter, too. Captain’s chairs (standard with Platinum trim) provide greater support as well as even easier third-row access.
As expected, extended-length Max bodies offer the most third-row legroom, but adults can find comfort in either version.
With all seatbacks upright, cargo volume totals 36 cubic feet in extended-length models, but only 20.9 for the regular version. Folding the third-row seatbacks reduces space to 79.6 or 63.6 cubic feet, respectively. Second and third rows fold down to create a fully flat load floor.
Driver visibility excels ahead, aft, and to the sides. A power-stowing function is available for the third row. So is a motion-activated liftgate.
The 2018 Expedition delivers a smooth ride and satisfying agility. It’s quite enjoyable to drive. It accelerates with a welcome degree of haste considering its mass.
Ford’s independent suspension helps ensure a favorable balance of ride and handling. So do the available continuously controlled dampers. As a result, handling is as precise as any vehicle of Expedition size and weight (roughly 5,500 pounds) can manage.
Winding roads induce a considerable amount of roll, dive, and squat. Even so, the Expedition responds predictably: highly controlled and inspiring confidence.
Electric power steering is weighted well, throughout the steering-wheel’s rotation. Reacting quickly enough, the steering feels natural, sometimes behaving as if a smaller vehicle is being piloted.
Shifting with a welcome degree of slickness, the new 10-speed automatic transmission helps the V6 engine stick close to the most efficient portion of its rev range. Gearchanges are so quick and subtle, they may not even be noticed. Upshifts and downshifts arrive frequently but smoothly, without hesitation.
Ford’s impressive twin-turbo V6 impresses mightily, never feeling short of power or suggesting any sense of struggling.
Four-wheel-drive models can be fitted with an FX4 off-road package, including a new Terrain Management System. Its drive selector adds Sand and Mud/Rut modes, along with Grass/Gravel/Snow.
Fuel economy has improved, but not by much. The rear-drive Expedition is EPA-rated at 17/24 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined (17/23/19 mpg for Expedition Max). Standard models with four-wheel drive are EPA-rated at 17/22 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined; the Max reduces each figure by 1 mpg.
To many observers, the 2018 Expedition qualifies as the new standard for full-size SUVs, hard to beat in functionality. An Expedition delivers all the expected features, along with some that surprise. Prices can rise swiftly by moving up the trim-level scale and adding options. For greater luxury, Lincoln has a comparable Navigator waiting for attention.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.