2009 Ford Expedition Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 8, 2009

Besides being a great tow rig, the 2009 Ford Expedition is big and comfortable; it's one of just a few vehicles in which the third row is usable by adults.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com have searched far and wide to bring you this inclusive review of the 2009 Ford Expedition. Experts have driven the vehicle to report on driving impressions, then combed the Internet for input from other reviewers in the industry. This means that you can head out on your next car-buying mission armed with the best and most complete information possible.

The 2009 Ford Expedition is based on a 2007 redesign. This is a fully truck-based SUV with a platform similar to the one used in the Ford F-150 truck.

All versions of the 2009 Ford Expedition are powered by 310-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8 engine teamed with a new six-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or four-wheel drive. The Expedition comes in two configurations: a regular-length model and an extended-wheelbase Expedition EL offering 14.8 inches of additional overall length and 130.8 cubic feet of cargo space—including 24 cubic feet more behind the third-row seat than the standard Expedition. The Expedition EL rides on a 131-inch wheelbase, 12 inches longer than the standard Expedition. A King Ranch edition offers a special trim and a unique leather interior. If you like the feel of supple, top-grain leather, you'll love the stuff that covers this interior. However, the plastic panel that covers the top of the dash looks and feels cheap, and it detracts from an otherwise premium experience.

Handling and acceleration are both responsive for such a gargantuan vehicle, and the cargo volume can easily move the contents of a college dorm room while still comfortably transporting five adults. The 2009 Ford Expedition may be huge, but it's an easy vehicle to get used to, and the more you drive it, the smaller it seems to feel. The ride isn't as creamy as you might expect, and the sole engine choice can feel labored.

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Standard safety features include side-impact airbags and a three-row Safety Canopy rollover detection system with stability control. There's also an optional backup camera.

The Expedition offers an optional DVD-based navigation with 6.5-inch color touchscreen and voice activation, as well as a 340-watt AM/FM audio system with MP3 capability, an in-dash six-CD changer, six premium speakers, and a subwoofer. An iPod jack is standard.

A keyless entry keypad, an electrochromic rearview mirror, heated power mirrors, auxiliary A/C, an overhead console, illuminated visors, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are now standard on all Expedition models. And on Limited and King Ranch Expeditions, the following items are standard as well: power adjustable pedals, power rear-quarter windows, a universal garage door opener, and a reverse-sensing system. New for 2009 are rain-sensing wipers, capless refueling, and standard heated seats in the second row. Top trims offer the SYNC phone/media interface, and the optional navigation system has been upgraded to include Sirius Travel Link.

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2009 Ford Expedition

Styling

The exterior of the 2009 Ford Expedition is strong, but the interior isn't particularly fabulous.

Benefiting from the styling revamp of 2007, the 2009 Ford Expedition occupies the top spot in Ford's SUV lineup, which it does quite comfortably.

The 2009 Ford Expedition "is available in four trim levels," according to Edmunds, which lists them as "XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited and new King Ranch." Aside from a few variations on the exterior, all trim levels of the 2009 Ford Expedition feature what Kelley Blue Book describes as "Ford's now-signature four-bar grille" that "sits front and center," along with a "raised 'powerdome' hood, new headlamps and larger wheel 'lips.'" Edmunds reports that the exterior differences are minor but noticeable, and mostly include larger wheels on the higher trim levels and "gold body cladding and running boards" on the Eddie Bauer trim, which changes to a "monochromatic paint job" on the Ford Expedition 2009 in Limited trim.

ForbesAutos adds that the Ford Expedition is "unashamedly big and bold," flaunting its size with "cues from Ford's F-Series pickup." For those who need a bit more space than the already-expansive Ford Expedition offers, Car and Driver says a "stretched Expedition EL" that boasts "an additional 14.8 inches on the standard truck" and "arguably looks more proportional in a world accustomed to Suburbans and Yukon XLs" is available.

While the exterior of the Ford Expedition 2009 lineup doesn't draw any significant criticisms in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, the interior is another story. Motor Trend finds that "the instrument panel, with its mix of round and rectangular gauges and chrome, plastic, and wood trim, appears retro for the sake of being retro and at the expense of good function." Edmunds says that "the interior controls and displays aren't always easy to read or use." Consumer Guide adds that "most controls" on the Ford Expedition are "logically placed, though the switchgear lacks a precision feel" and the navigation system "absorbs most audio functions, awkwardly combining pushbutton and touch screen operation, and its screen washes out in even moderate sunlight." However, on the positive side, Kelley Blue Book reviewers feel that "driver and passengers will enjoy tone-on-tone leather," along with "a stylish center stack on the instrument panel and cup holders galore."

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2009 Ford Expedition

Performance

The 2009 Ford Expedition accelerates and handles well for a vehicle of this size, even though it lacks a high-horsepower engine option.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com find that the 2009 Ford Expedition offers decent speed and acceleration—better than one might expect for a behemoth of this size. It's a bit lumbering on turns, but it could certainly be worse.

The 2009 Ford Expedition is available with just one engine on all trim levels, "a 5.4-liter V8 making 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque," according to Edmunds. ConsumerGuide states that the engine allows for impressive acceleration and finds the Expedition has "sufficient power for any situation." Kelley Blue Book adds they "weren't overwhelmed by the 5.4-liter V8's acceleration while towing, [but] the Expedition seemed fully up to the task." Edmunds notes that either "two-wheel or four-wheel drive (with low-range gearing) is offered." For a hard number to hang your hat on, Edmunds says their test Ford Expedition 4WD "accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds," which they feel is "a decent time for this class."

Motor Trend offers one of the most critical reviews of the engine, saying that the Ford Expedition "feels sluggish right out of the gate," and "you can tell there's a lot of weight here, and the engine doesn't seem interested in compensating."

The Ford Expedition 2009 lineup is available with "a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability," according to Edmunds. The transmission fares well with reviewers. Cars.com adds that the automatic is a plus, and "it never made a harsh shift" during their test period. ConsumerGuide claims "the alert 6-speed automatic transmission is always in the right gear." Once again, however, Motor Trend weighs in with a negative assessment, saying "sure, there are six speeds, but without a true manual mode, the tranny hunts with the same fervor as Dick Cheney."

On SUVs the size of the 2009 Ford Expedition, fuel economy will always be a sore point. Cars.com notes that Ford claims the new six-speed transmission "improves performance and gas mileage" over the old model's four-speed automatic, but the EPA still rates the 2009 Ford Expedition at 12 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. On the heavier, stretched version of the Ford Expedition 2009, ConsumerGuide says that their "4WD Expedition EL averaged 13.4 mpg."

The 2009 Ford Expedition is large, but that doesn't mean it can't handle decently. Kelley Blue Book contends that "the driving impression feels connected to the road, helped in no small part by steering with a good degree of precision." Overall ride quality is equally impressive, and Cars.com reviewers state that they are "a bit surprised by the Expedition's exceptional ride quality," noting "body roll has been reined in fairly well." ConsumerGuide reviewers did not expect to find that the Ford Expedition 2009 lineup boasts "impressive agility for large SUVs" and that the "nicely weighted steering has a natural feel." The one gripe that arises frequently from reviewers is brake pedal feel, as Cars.com discovers that the Ford Expedition's "brake pedal has the same spongy feel that plagues the smaller Explorer Sport Trac." Aside from the pedal feel, Motor Trend says brakes are "strong and a match for the cumbersome curb weight."

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2009 Ford Expedition

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Ford Expedition offers gargantuan spaces for passengers and cargo.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com note that because of its large dimensions, the 2009 Ford Expedition offers scads of interior space. Build and interior materials quality isn't always on par with some competitors, but it's getting better with time.

ConsumerGuide reports that the front offers "generous room on supportive seats," while the "second-row seat moves fore and aft and the seat backs are split 40/20/40," allowing for multiple configurations to achieve a comfortable riding position, according to ForbesAutos. The monstrous 2009 Ford Expedition "can seat up to nine occupants across three rows of seats" when equipped with the optional front bench seat, says Cars.com, and it does so with impressive comfort levels. Surprisingly, the third-row seats receive some of the highest praise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, as ConsumerGuide claims "3rd-row accommodations are among the best of any SUV, with adult-sized headroom and legroom on a chair-height bench." Car and Driver adds "third-row seating space is generous, easily besting the GM offerings."

Rear cargo space and other interior storage also benefit from the overall size of the Ford Expedition 2009, especially in stretched EL form. ConsumerGuide praises the "available power-folding 3rd row," which they say "saves awkward stretching," and they further note that "a large glovebox, roomy center console, and large door pockets provide abundant small-item storage." Cars.com says "the Expedition EL offers 131 cubic feet" of total cargo volume with all the rear seats folded, and the standard Ford Expedition's "maximum cargo capacity is 108.2 cubic feet." For those who need even more storage space, Edmunds points out "opting for the second-row captain's chairs drops seating capacity to seven but earns a storage console between the seats."

The Ford Expedition lineup boasts improved materials and build quality, and while it's still far from perfect on most trims, the King Ranch edition will satisfy all but the most discerning of buyers. Kelley Blue Book appreciates the "softer cushions and upgraded materials" on the Ford Expedition 2009, and Motor Trend reports that "every editor was impressed by the luxurious 'Chaparral' leather" and "the ultraquiet ambiance" of the Ford Expedition King Ranch. On regular 2009 Ford Expeditions, ConsumerGuide is disappointed to find "a plethora of hard-plastic panels" that "cheapens Expedition's interior ambiance," and Edmunds points out "quite a few small, cheap feeling buttons that are hard to tell apart at a glance."

Edmunds finds that "despite some noticeable noise from the tires, the Expedition's cabin remains quiet enough to carry on a conversation." ConsumerGuide says the Ford Expedition is "impressively hushed," and "road noise over most surfaces is minimal."

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2009 Ford Expedition

Safety

The 2009 Ford Expedition is a solid "yes" for safety. It has all the expected features and great ratings.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com like the 2009 Ford Expedition for safety. It offers a pile of safety features and solid crash-test ratings.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested the 2009 Ford Expedition. However, the Ford Expedition has been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the government's crash-test agency, and the results certainly inspire confidence. After subjecting the Ford Expedition 2009 lineup to its complete range of tests, NHTSA awarded the Ford Expedition a full five stars in every impact category, including driver and passenger protection during both front and side impacts. The one blemish on the 2009 Ford Expedition's crash-test scorecard comes in the rollover rating, where NHTSA awarded only four of a possible five stars. However, it is rare for an SUV to score a five-star rollover rating, so even four stars can be considered impressive.

In terms of safety features, the Ford Expedition 2009 doesn't disappoint. Cars.com notes that "side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats are standard." Edmunds reports "all major safety equipment is standard on the 2009 Ford Expedition, including antilock disc brakes with brake assist and a rollover-sensing stability control system." Kelley Blue Book elaborates by saying that "the AdvanceTrac stability controls system with Roll Stability Control modulates braking and engine power to help maintain driver control in marginal conditions, particularly those involving slippery surfaces."

One area of particular concern in large SUVs like the Ford Expedition 2009 is driver visibility. On the Ford Expedition, "visibility is hampered by thick roof pillars and large headrests, particularly over the left shoulder," according to ConsumerGuide. Fortunately, there is "a back-up radar system to help making parking this giant a bit easier," notes ForbesAutos, and J.D. Power says it complements the optional "rear-view camera." ConsumerGuide recommends the options backup camera, which is "helpful when backing up."

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2009 Ford Expedition

Features

The 2009 Ford Expedition has scads of technological goodies, which should be enough to satisfy the vast majority of drivers.

The 2009 Ford Expedition offers a great set of features through and through. Buyers will be pleased with standard and optional features.

The standard features list on the 2009 Ford Expedition is impressive, even in XLT trim. Edmunds reports that the "well-equipped XLT" offers "automatic headlights, running boards, a Class III trailer hitch, air-conditioning (with rear controls)" and "a six-speaker CD stereo with auxiliary input jack," along with "cruise control and full power accessories." For 2009, a few new additions have joined the list of standard features, including an alarm system, rain-sensing wipers, capless refueling, and second-row heated seats.

Moving up to the Eddie Bauer edition of the Ford Expedition 2009, ConsumerGuide finds that "dual-zone automatic climate controls, leather upholstery, 10-way power driver seat, 6-way power passenger seat," and "Audiophile AM/FM radio w/in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer" are all included as standard features.

On the even more luxurious Ford Expedition Limited trim, J.D. Power says to expect a "rear parking sensor" and "wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel" to go along with the "perforated leather seats" that come standard. Finally, the 2009 Ford Expedition King Ranch incorporates all of the Limited trim's standard features and adds "upgraded leather upholstery, [and] unique interior and exterior trim," according to ConsumerGuide. Edmunds also notes that "exclusive to the Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch are a navigation system, power liftgate and a rearview backup camera." For 2009, top trims include the Sync phone/media interface.

In lesser trims, many of the Limited's features can be added as stand-alone options. Across the line, options include a "DVD entertainment system," "iPod integration," and "satellite radio," according to ConsumerGuide. Kelley Blue Book notes that a "340-watt audio system" and "PowerFold third-row seat that folds flat with the touch of a button" are also available on the Ford Expedition 2009. The available navigation system includes Sirius Travel Link for 2009.

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Styling 8
Performance 7
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