2013 Ford Expedition Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
July 17, 2012

The 2013 Ford Expedition stands as one of the most accommodating and well-designed of the mega-SUVs, although its styling and features have fallen a bit behind the curve.

As other utility vehicles—including Ford's own once-ubiquitous Explorer—have evolved to be less truck-like and more family-friendly, Ford has stuck to its guns with the hefty Expedition  In some respects, it represents a fad that's faded; but in other respects it delivers the same solid truck ability that it always has—making it a good choice for those who need to tow or haul heavy loads.

However even relative to other trucks, the 2013 Expedition doesn't at all look fresh. Some years ago the Expedition was kept fresh with significant updates almost yearly—most of them in synch with the F-150 pickups on which they're based. Instead, Ford has left the Expedition to carry over unchanged for many years now as the F-150 has seen more incremental tweaks and improvements. The result is that while the latest F-Series trucks have a crisper, edgier look, the Expedition has stayed more rounded in its details on the outside, while inside it now feels like the relic of another era at Ford.

If you're okay with the Expedition's not-intentionally-retro look, you'll want to measure your parking spot and carefully choose between the standard-length Expedition and the extended-length Expedition EL. The EL is 14.8 inches longer, with the major difference being longer rear fenders and glass from the outside. Cargo space is more abundant and third-row access is considerably easier in the EL, but you'll pay a price in maneuverability. It's one of the biggest SUVs on the planet, with a wheelbase of 131 inches—in other words, longer than a Smart fortwo or Mitsubishi i.

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A version of Ford's new 5.0-liter V-8, from the F-150 pickup, had been expected to trickle down (or up?) to the Expedition for 2013; but it hasn't arrived after all. That leaves instead the same 310-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 that the Expedition has had for years. It makes 365 pound-feet of torque and allows the Expedition to move quickly most of the time; but hitch up a trailer or load the Expedition near its limit (up to 9,200 pounds for towing) and this engine doesn't have the stout, unrelenting character of GM's current batch of V-8s—especially the larger V-8 in the Suburban. Four-wheel drive remains available pretty much throughout the entire lineup, and the six-speed automatic transmission is responsive and smooth-shifting.

Considering the Expedition's mammoth size, driving it is quite easy thanks to light but precise steering, as well as a suspension that does a good job in controlling all that weight. Yes, it's one of the biggest land yachts on the market, but it's manageable. The only issue we've noted in prior years is that the pedal feel of the brakes can be somewhat spongy. Ride quality isn't up to the standards of modern crossovers, for the most part, but the Expedition does keep its composure on rougher surfaces, and it rides better than other body-on-frame trucks. If you can afford it, the King Ranch edition offers a unique spin on a luxury-SUV interior, with unpolished leather like that of a baseball glove.

While some older, more trucklike SUV designs had spacial disconnects, with interiors that were smaller than you might have guessed, the interior of the Expedition is cavernous, almost like that of a full-size van. The Expedition's front seats are captain's chairs, mounted high and affording a good view out, and a telescopic steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals allow for a vast range of body types. The expansive head and knee room continues in the second row of seats, and even adult passengers will find the third row spacious enough for short trips. In EL models, there's 130.8 cubic feet of cargo space, including an additional 24 cubic feet behind the third-row seat. A PowerFold third-row seat and power liftgate arrangement are handy when hands are full, and the EL's longer rear doors make getting into (and out of) the third row quite easy.

The feature set in the 2013 Ford Expedition is a little behind the times as well; it lacks Ford's innovative (and sometimes frustrating) MyFord Touch connectivity interface, instead offering the more dated Sync system, combined with a voice-activated navigation system and HD Radio in top trims. The lineup includes XL, XLT, Limited, and King Ranch trims, with a total of ten equipment groups. Standard equipment across the entire range includes keyless entry keypad, heated power mirrors, air conditioning, an electrochromic rearview mirror, illuminated visors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, while Ford's MyKey system and SecuriCode keypad-entry system are standout features. This year Ford has added a new dual-head-restraint DVD system, and a new 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheel design.

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