It outperforms expectations with steering and ride quality, and with overall road manners that belie its body-on-frame heft. But ultimately, the Expedition loses ground to some other big SUVs because its V-8 engine isn't as powerful.
The Expedition, in fact, doesn't offer any choice in drivetrains. The only engine is a 5.4-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that's smooth and responsive, the powertrain delivers the goods to either the rear wheels or to all four wheels. With other full-size SUVs approaching 400 hp in standard form, the Expedition's numbers suggest exactly how it feels on the road--acceptable under medium engine loads, then progressively more strained as more people and cargo enter the equation. It's capable of towing up to 9,100 pounds, but that kind of heavy-duty durability shouldn't be confused with brisk performance.
Despite its size, driving the Expedition is relatively easy—thanks to light but precise steering, and a suspension that does a great job reeling all that weight in. The ride of the Expedition is certainly no match for the newer generation of car-based crossovers, but it rides better than other body-on-frame trucks. The suspension does a splendid job of soaking up irregularities while keeping the back wheels glued to the road over rough surfaces, with none of the nervous hopping that characterizes solid-axle designs.
The net product is a mammoth SUV that doesn't always feel mammoth from behind the wheel. The only major criticism, other than the lack of engine power, is the Expedition's rather spongy brake feel and plentiful nosedive in hard stops.