- Drives better than its size implies
- Rides smoothly
- King Ranch is one of our favorite interiors
- Third-row space is great in Expedition EL
- Infotainment overdue for an update
- Some plastic trim looks cheap
- Design is getting old
- Not easy to park, at all
It hasn't been brought up to date like the company's pickup trucks, but the Ford Expedition has one of the best cabins and designs among the biggest SUVs.
The formula for the 2014 Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle is familiar: Take the underpinnings of a full-size pickup truck (In this case, a now-dated version of Ford's well-known F-150) and use them for a full-size utility vehicle that can seat up to eight people. In that segment, it's similar to vehicles from the Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands of General Motors, along with Nissan and Toyota as well. The Expedition thus remains resolutely truck-based even as mid-size utilities like the Ford Explorer evolve into crossovers based on passenger-car platforms. It's at its best when called upon to pull with the ruggedness of a truck, making a useful choice for those drivers who really need to tow many thousands of pounds or haul heavy loads.
With an all-new 2015 Ford F-150 coming, complete with aluminum body, the Expedition is now based on a pickup from two generations earlier. That means that while the pickups got crisper, the lines of the Expedition retain the more rounded look of 10 years ago. Inside, too, interior fittings and the dashboard are clearly from an earlier era--both less refined and plainer than those of any modern Ford truck.
We've waited for Ford's latest 5.0-liter V-8 to make its way into the Expedition since 2012, but it hasn't happened. The sole drivetrain for the Expedition remains the proven but power-shy 310-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 that the big utility has had for years. It makes 365 pound-feet of torque and allows the Expedition to move quickly most of the time. Hitch up a trailer or load up the vehicle to near its capacity (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 used 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, at least.
The two main versions of the Expedition differ in length. You can select either the standard-length Expedition or the extended-length Expedition EL, which is 14.8 inches longer overall, with longer rear fenders and glass. It's one of the biggest SUVs on the planet, frankly, and its wheelbase of 131 inches is longer than the full length of either a Smart fortwo or Mitsubishi i-MiEV. In either case, you'll need to plan your parking spaces with some care. Both versions of the Expedition provide a cavernous interior, almost like that of a full-size van. Cargo space is more abundant and third-row access is much easier in the EL, but you'll pay a price in even more cumbersome maneuverability than the standard version.
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.
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.The Expedition has fallen behind on features compared to its pickup brethren. 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. Options include a DVD entertainment system, and 20-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels. 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.