New & Used Ford Expedition: In Depth
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The Ford Expedition is a full-size SUV with some of the highest towing and hauling ratings in the Ford empire. It's designed to carry big families and bring along their belongings, when those needs can't be met by a more user-friendly crossover.
The Expedition is offered in both short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase (EL) versions. The current Expedition gets its platform and running gear from circa-2014 Ford F-150 pickup trucks, although it has a unique independent rear suspension that it shares with its mechanical sibling, the Lincoln Navigator SUV.
The Expedition is equipped to take on vehicles such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, the Nissan Armada, and the Toyota Sequoia. It is currently in its third generation, having recently undergone a major refresh.
Introduced for the 1997 model year, the Expedition entered its second generation in 2003, with the third-generation version arriving in 2007. The 2015 model brought further upgrades to the third-generation SUV; some might even consider it the fourth generation since so much was changed.
At first, the Expedition was an indirect follow-up to the old Ford Bronco, a two-door 'ute that was sold through the 1991 model year. Similarly based on truck running gear but offering an extra set of doors, the Expedition proved popular even while Ford's smaller Explorer saw its sales collapse in the wake of a major tire recall.
The first-generation Expedition was produced from 1997 through 2002 and was built on the F-Series platform of the day. The first Expedition could seat up to nine passengers. Buyers had a choice of either a 4.6-liter V-8 or a 5.4-liter V-8, both coupled to a four-speed automatic. For the 2000 model year, the smaller engine's power output of 215 horsepower rose to 240 hp; the larger V-8 saw power rise from 230 hp to 260 hp at the same time. The upgrades coincided with revised front- and rear-end styling, the addition of side airbags as an option, and the availability of rear parking sensors.
The second-generation Expedition was sold from 2003 to 2006. With its upgraded architecture came an independent rear suspension that vastly improved the SUV's ride quality. It also helped increase cargo space in the rear, enabling Ford to add a power-folding third-row seat. This Expedition's styling was smoothed and refined almost to the point of anonymity, especially inside, though the impression of quality construction grew with better-fitting trim. The drivetrains—including available four-wheel drive—carried over, but in the 2005 model year the smaller V-8 was dropped. In the same year, Ford added a new version of stability control with anti-roll programming.
The current, third-gen Expedition went on sale in 2007 wearing a much more straight-edged suit of sheet metal than its predecessors. At launch, it was powered by a 310-hp, 5.4-liter V-8, and in its first makeover it received a six-speed automatic transmission. With 365 pound-feet of torque and a heavy-duty towing package offered, this Expedition could initially tow up to 9,200 pounds. It also comes in an "EL" edition for the first time, measuring almost 15 inches longer than the standard SUV, with 24 cubic feet of additional cargo room.
Between 2007 and the big changes for 2015, Ford added a rearview camera, flex-fuel capability, a capless fuel-filler system, and the SYNC entertainment system, which connects drivers to phone and audio functions via Bluetooth and also controls connected media devices.
The latest Ford Expedition
The most extensive updates of the third-generation Expedition's platform came in the 2015 model year. Ford has now given this model an updated look to match the 2014 F-150's, while the corporate twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 has been fitted as the Expedition's only engine offering. The Expedition has also been brought fully up to the expectations of the latest group of SUV shoppers with a new continuous-damping suspension system for more comfort and quiet, and there are cosmetic improvements all around. This version is still technically part of the third generation, although it received a heavily revised interior, the new sheet metal, and the new engine.
Ford launched a Platinum edition of its big SUV with the new 2015 model. This version sits above the previously range-topping Limited trim and includes a fancier leather interior in unique colors, inching ever more toward the accommodations found in its Lincoln Navigator sibling.
For 2016, Ford updated the Expedition's infotainment system to its much better, much quicker Sync 3 system.
Because Ford waited so long to update the Expedition, the new model is actually still based on the outgoing F-150 pickup. The latest F-150 is an aluminum-bodied departure from the pickup-truck norm, so for now at least the pickup and its SUV spawn are a generation removed. It's possible that a new Expedition will surface soon with at least some of the new F-150's chassis, interior, and powertrain upgrades, if not the lightweight aluminum body.