2018 Ford Expedition Review

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2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brandon Turkus Brandon Turkus
May 30, 2018

The 2018 Ford Expedition is the new benchmark for full-size SUVs.

The 2018 Ford Expedition full-size SUV was a decade coming and was worth the wait.

The 2018 Ford Expedition earns a 7.4 overall, thanks to a few factors. Its 9,300-pound towing capacity rivals some proper pickup trucks. A fully independent suspension and sharp steering allow it to drive much smaller than it is. Its cavernous cabin and smooth ride come with an extensive list of standard and optional equipment. You can order an Expedition from the factory that can stream live TV. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Ford sells the 2018 Expedition in XLT, Limited, and Platinum trim levels, with short- and long-wheelbase body styles, and with available four-wheel drive. Prices start at $52,890 (including a mandatory $1,195 destination charge) for a short-wheelbase, two-wheel-drive XLT and extend to $79,940 for a four-wheel-drive Expedition Max Platinum.

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The new look is the most obvious change, and it’s hewn straight from aluminum. The Expedition marries the look of Ford’s crossovers and pickup trucks—it is for all intents and purposes an F-150 with three rows—into a clean, cohesive shape that looks both modern and conservatively familiar. We like the arrow-straight beltline and expansive greenhouse, which contributes to the open sensation in the cabin.

That cabin is properly cavernous. Available with either a short- and long wheelbase, which provides an extra 9.1 inches of space between the axles, the Expedition provides 172 cubic feet of passenger space. Ditch the human cargo and fold the seats down for up to 121.5 cubic feet of cargo space in the long-wheelbase Max, with 104.6 cubes in the short-wheelbase. Even with all seats occupied, the Expedition offers up to 36 cubic feet of cargo room. This is a mammoth vehicle.

But it’s also supremely functional. The seats fold flat, and the middle row slides fore and aft. It can even be flipped forward to access the third row without removing a car seat. That third row? A power-folding option is available and a large adult can sit back there without too much complaining or shoehorning. Minivans get all the credit for their people-hauling ability, but the Expedition is nearly as capable.

Moving all that metal along is yet another version of Ford’s popular 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6. It produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, with power getting to the ground via a standard 10-speed automatic that was jointly developed between Ford and General Motors.

The roster of available equipment is nearly as long as the Expedition itself. There’s plenty of available active safety equipment, from the mundane, like blind-spot monitors, to the advanced, including full-speed automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality. Comfort features include an expansive sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, 15 cupholders, six USB ports, and a 12-speaker B&O Play audio system. Get deep into the options catalog and you can build out an Expedition that costs nearly $84,000. That’s a fair price for a vehicle that can haul this many people so easily and so comfortably.

7

2018 Ford Expedition

Styling

The 2018 Ford Expedition’s style marries the best of crossovers and pickups.

Little exterior details and a heavily revised cabin help elevate the 2018 Ford Expedition above its predecessor, earning this three-row brute 7 out of 10 on our styling scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The new Expedition’s exterior is the perfect marriage of the F-150’s brutish, chiseled-from-stone aesthetic and the more pleasant, graceful vibes of Ford’s passenger-focused crossovers. The new grille is the latest nail in the coffin of Ford’s obnoxious, razor-blade-like treatment from yesteryear, while the C-clamp headlights are smoothed out while still retaining the tool-like look pioneered by Ford’s pickups. The tail is a little more ordinary, although like the headlights, it marries the shape of the Explorer’s taillights with the LED styling of the F-150—a chrome strip spreads across the tailgate with “EXPEDITION” badging in the middle, just like the Explorer.

The best part of the exterior, though, is the slab-sided character and the arrow-straight beltline. There’s something delightfully old-fashioned about this design that still feels fresh, new, and interesting. The tall doors and the thick brushed chrome give the Expedition size and substance—it looks fantastic.

As is tradition nowadays, the Expedition offers a wide array of wheel choices, from the base 18-inch rollers to the extravagant 22s, available as an option on the Expedition Limited and standard on the Expedition Platinum. The Limited’s 20-inch alloys are likely the sweet spot for drivers looking to balance style and ride comfort.

Where the exterior marries the F-150 and Ford’s crossover lineup, the cabin embraces the pickup truck’s design. The dash looks like a carbon copy, but with better fit and finish. The center console is the biggest departure, as it spawns an entire section for the Expedition’s rotary shifter and the controls for the shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system.

But it’s the Expedition Platinum that is the best demonstration of what Ford has done with its new truck. Real wood accents, beautiful stitching on the leather that lines the door panels and seat bolsters, and just the right amount of chrome tinsel adorn the cabin of the range-topping model. It’s a lovely place for a drive.

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8

2018 Ford Expedition

Performance

More enjoyable to drive than it has any right to be, the 2018 Ford Expedition is quicker than its size indicates and more agile, too.

The 2018 Expedition’s heart is still a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6, but now it works alongside a slick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission—the result is a best-in-class tow rating of 9,300 pounds. Add to that a charmingly balanced ride and handling character thanks to an independent rear suspension and a quick steering rack that shrinks this behemoth in the bends and the Expedition earns 8 out of 10 on our performance scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Ford’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 continues to impress. Even tasked with hauling around a vehicle as monstrous as the Expedition—the lightest example still weighs over 5,400 pounds despite its new weight-saving aluminum body—it never feels short on power or like it’s struggling. With up to 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque in the Platinum (XLT and Limited models pack 375 hp and 470 lb-ft), and much of the torque available at just 2,250 rpm, there’s a point-and-shoot quality to the Expedition.

Like the F-150, the two turbochargers dominate the Expedition’s driving experience. This early wave of torque is accompanied by what we’d imagine a teeny, tiny, jet-powered F/A-18 Hornet fighter would sound like on start-up. It’s an addicting noise that’s followed by kick-in-the-pants power.

The new 10-speed automatic transmission enables the engine’s accessibility, helping keep the 3.5-liter V-6 in the sweetest part of the rev range with a semi-constant series of up and downshifts. Like the F-150, these changes are so fast and so smooth they require drivers really pay careful attention to notice them. That said, the transmission makes no bones about answering sudden changes for more power, firing off multi-gear downshifts without hesitation.

Available as an optional extra on all four-wheel-drive models, an FX4 off-road package gives the Expedition a degree of off-road capability that should satisfy 99 percent of owners (the other one percent drive a Range Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser). A new Terrain Management System on the standard drive mode selector riffs on the aforementioned Range Rover and Ford’s own Explorer, allowing customers to simply twist a knob and prime the Expedition for some dirty work—the FX4 adds Sand and Mud/Rut driving modes and upgrades the standard Snow/Wet driving mode to Grass/Gravel/Snow. Like on the Range Rover and Explorer, Sand is designed for low-traction situations that involve deeper obstacles than Grass/Gravel/Snow, while Mud/Rut optimizes the traction control and other systems to account for more uneven surfaces.

Ford pairs Expedition’s standard independent suspension—a feature it pioneered among full-sizers many moons ago—with available continuously controlled dampers. The result is about as precise a handling experience as one can expect in a 5,500-pound SUV. On a winding road, there is a lot of roll, squat, and dive, but it all arrives predictably and in a very controlled manner. This progressive behavior is a big part of what allows the 2018 Expedition to inspire so much confidence—this isn’t a difficult vehicle to drive.

That’s partially down to the steering, too. The electric power-assisted steering system is weighted well from on center to near full lock. Feedback isn’t great—not a surprise, really—but the tiller is quick enough and feels natural that it’s occasionally possible to forget you’re driving a family hauling tank.

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9

2018 Ford Expedition

Comfort & Quality

A minivan is still more comfortable and capable at hauling people than the 2018 Ford Expedition, but only just. A masterclass in the “utility” part of the SUV acronym.

If it weren’t for the Lincoln Navigator, the 2018 Ford Expedition would have a perfect comfort score. The Expedition is nearly on par with the Lincoln now, which should be good news for shoppers. We give the Expedition a 9 out of 10 on our comfort scale, owing to three comfortable and spacious rows of seats, plenty of cargo space, impressive build quality, and eye-pleasing materials. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

There really isn’t a bad seat in the 2018 Expedition. The front chairs are expansive and beautifully padded, like road-going La-Z-Boys that both driver and passenger will simply sink into. These are seats designed to run through a full tank of fuel in a single effortless stint. On top of that, vision is excellent fore, aft, and laterally, and there’s a wide range of adjustments on those hearty chairs.

Slip into the second row—an easy feat thanks to the Expedition’s enormous doors—and the chairs are very nearly as comfortable. We’d recommend the captain’s chairs—optional on the Limited and standard on the Platinum—that offer more support and easier access to the third row. Regardless of the setup, owners can slide the second row forward without removing a child’s car seat.

The third row, meanwhile, is no penalty box. Full-sized adults can easily ride back there on an extended journey, with plenty of leg room, comfortable seats, and—no joke—four of the Expedition’s 15 cupholders. The only real limiting factor is head room, which adults over six feet will find a little tight.

If you don’t need those seats, the second and third rows can fold down into a totally flat load floor, revealing a grand total of 104.6 cubic feet of cargo space in the short-wheelbase model and 121.5 cubes in the long-wheelbase Expedition Max. Kick the second row back into place and that figure shrinks to a maximum of 63.6 cubic feet in the standard body and 79.6 in the extended trim. Where the shorter Expedition falls short is with all three rows in place—a mere 20.9 cubic feet is available. The Max does better in passenger-hauling mode, with 36 cubes of cargo space.

A power stow function is available for the third row, as is a motion-activated liftgate for hands-free access to the Expedition’s tail. Once in there, Ford took a few steps to make the Expedition as good a cargo hauler as it can be. A cargo manager gives customers a customizable approach to the Expedition’s dedicated hold, while a sizable lip on the tailgate keeps goods from rolling out.

Material quality is impressive throughout the cabin, although once again, the range-topping Platinum comes in for the most ebullient praise with beautiful stitching on the leather and wood trim that feels more suited to the Lincoln Navigator, which is where the Expedition’s missing point went.

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2018 Ford Expedition

Safety

Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have gotten a hold of the 2018 Expedition yet.

No one but Ford has slammed the 2018 Expedition into a wall (on purpose) yet, so we can’t assign a safety rating just. Watch this space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All 2018 Expeditions come standard with the typical array of airbags and electronic safety nannies designed to keep the shiny side up. But if you want active safety systems, you’ll need to spend some money.

Blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert are common among new cars, but it’s still socked away as part of the base Expedition XLT’s $5,605 202A Equipment Group. If you want more advanced safety systems, like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, or lane-departure warnings, you’ll need to add the 202A package and then spend another $715 for the Driver Assistance Package.

Life is better on the Expedition Limited, where these advanced active safety systems only require the 301A Equipment Group, which is a $3,030 extra. But if you pony up what the XLT requires for its active safety gear on a Limited, you can get the 302A Equipment Group, which brings in advanced LED headlights and a surround-view camera system.

It’s not until you get to the pricey Expedition Limited that all Ford’s most advanced safety kit comes standard.

While democratization of safety equipment requires a $70,000-plus investment for consumers, at the very least there aren’t any glaring omissions in Ford’s options catalog. When NHTSA and IIHS get around to testing this big brute, we expect it to perform well.

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2018 Ford Expedition

Features

All the features you expect, and a whole bunch you won’t.

Like minivans, big, seven-passenger SUVs need to pack a lot of content to keep consumers happy. The 2018 Expedition does the job with six USB outlets (one for each outboard seat), Ford’s nifty ProTrailer Backup Assist, and the ability to watch live television on two separate screens via the Sling TV service. The Expedition is a road tripper’s dream and earns 8 out of 10 points on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

First, let’s talk about the headlining long-distance feature—SlingPlayer. Streaming TV service Sling is moving to the road, and like its Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV apps, the company’s latest product allows users to stream live television channels direct from the interwebs.

In the Expedition’s case, it relies on the SUV’s built-in 4G wi-fi system to stream live channels to displays mounted on the back of the front headrests. Customers will need a SlingBox at their home for the Expedition’s system to match up with and they’ll likely need more than the trial data plan Ford offers with each new Expedition—the trial only covers the first three months or the first 3GB of streaming data, whichever comes first. SlingPlayer is part of the $1,995 rear-seat entertainment system and is only available on the Expedition Limited and Platinum

The rest of the options sheet is fairly typical Ford. There are three trims—XLT, Limited, and Platinum—and the first two are available with a pair of comprehensive equipment groups. Like other Ford products, two ascending packages attach a number of additional features to the XLT and Limited.

On the XLT, the $1,485 201A Equipment Group adds leather upholstery, 10-way power adjustable front seats, and a power-folding third row. The 202A Equipment Group adds a lot more—including everything from the 201A package in its $5,605 price tag, this pricey package adds the Sync 3 infotainment system, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless ignition and remote start, an 8.0-inch display in the instrument cluster, and a hands-free liftgate.

The XLT is also the only trim that offers the FX4 Off-Road Package. The $1,650 extra adds a two-speed transfer case, off-road-focused shocks, an electronic limited-slip differential, 18-inch wheels on all-terrain tires, an upgraded radiator, dedicated underbody protection for the fuel tank, and chrome-plated running boards. Naturally, FX4 badging is also included.

On the Limited, the 301A Equipment Group rings up at $3,030 and adds the $715 Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-departure warning with active lane control, forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and rain-sensing wipers), a navigation function for the Sync 3 infotainment system, and a panoramic sunroof that feels like it’s the size of a football field.

The $6,440 302A Equipment Group doesn’t really feel worth it. Sure, it includes all the stuff in the previous package, along with 22-inch alloys, LED headlights, and an automatic parking system, but that’s about it. It’s hardly worth increasing the Expedition Limited’s starting price by nearly 10 percent.

Most of the rest of the optional extras are available across all three trims. Four-wheel drive varies in price from $2,315 on the XLT to $3,145 on the Platinum, while the long-wheelbase Max body is a $2,690 option on the XLT and Platinum. A Heavy Duty Trailering Package costs $1,570 across the board and is wholly worth the price if you’re planning on towing. Alongside a beefed-up radiator, a two-speed transfer case, an integrated trailer brake controller, it adds Ford’s fantastic Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which distills the art of reversing a trailer into a simple, knob-controlled operation.

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5

2018 Ford Expedition

Fuel Economy

Operating a Ford Expedition isn’t a cheap endeavor, but the 2018’s improved fuel economy lessens the pain, if only slightly.

It’s still the size of a bus and as efficient as government, but the 2018 Ford Expedition’s EPA best rating of 17 mpg, 24 highway, 20 combined on rear-drive, V-6 models is enough to earn 5 out of 10 points on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

That's an improvement of 2 mpg on the city cycle, and 3 mpg on the highway cycle compared to the outgoing model.

Improvements for 2018 range from an aluminum body that shaves the curb weight from last year’s lightest model—a two-wheel-drive, short-wheelbase Expedition—from 5,562 pounds to 5,433 pounds, while a thriftier 10-speed automatic from the F-150 is a better partner to the standard 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6.

Long-wheelbase Expedition Max SUVs with rear-wheel drive carry ratings of 17/23/19 mpg. Short-wheelbase models with four-wheel drive are rated at 17/22/19 mpg; with 4WD and a long wheelbase, the Expedition's pegged at 16/21/18 mpg.

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February 19, 2018
2018 Ford Expedition XLT 4x4

Roomy, Comfortable

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Let me start by saying I've driven Jeep Grand Cherokees for the last four years. I wanted a larger car for my hunting gear and big black Lab. I also wanted a car that wasn't as commonly seen on the road as a... + More »
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7.4
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Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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