When it was introduced for the 1997 model year as the successor of the Ford Bronco, the Expedition was Ford’s first full-size four-door utility vehicle. Now, 20 years later, Ford is introducing a completely new fourth-generation Expedition in well-equipped XLT, upscale Limited, and uber-luxurious Platinum trim levels for regular customers. Plus, an XL model is available for fleets; Ford also offers an extended Expedition Max, which is about 8 inches longer.
Following in the footsteps of the 2015 F-150 pickup truck (with which it shares its underpinnings), the 2018 Expedition loses 300 pounds by substituting aluminum for steel, with the body being made from the lighter-weight material. Like the full-size truck, the SUV rides on a fully-boxed, high-strength steel frame.
Offered with a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, the updated 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 adds automatic stop/start to assist fuel economy, while also producing 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque (or 400 hp and 480 torque on Platinum trim levels). A new 10-speed automatic transmission operated via rotary knob replaces the outgoing six-speed transmission.
Because more than 50 percent of Expedition customers have stated they value towing, and 15 percent say they tow weekly or monthly, the Expedition can now tow up to 9,300 pounds (100 pounds less on Max models), while Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist helps steer trailers by simply using a knob located on the dashboard.
Upscale and elegant body lines match the looks of the big SUV with Ford’s smaller SUVs, with a sleek, aerodynamic roofline and enlarged headlights, taillights, grille, and rear bumper. A rear spoiler creates a sportier profile.
Underneath that aluminum sheet metal, the Expedition features a new, more rigid frame and retains its independent rear suspension and continuously controlled (active) damping; an all-new Terrain Management System allows the driver to choose between seven drive modes for optimal vehicle handling in different conditions.
This includes normal for around-town driving, sport for more spirited trips, tow/haul for improved towing and hauling performance, eco for enhanced fuel economy, grass/gravel/snow for loose terrain, sand for low traction situations, and mud/rut for uneven surfaces.
Ford says the 2018 Expedition is the first full-size utility to feature a sliding second-row seat with tip-and-slide functionality, which allows easy access to the third row without having to remove a child safety seat; a second-row bench seat is standard on all models, though heated leather captain’s chairs are optional. The third-row seats recline.
Cargo capacity measures 104.6/63.6/20.9 cubic feet behind the first/second/third rows; and while the full-size utility vehicle is already roomy for up to eight passengers, the extended wheelbase Expedition MAX can accommodate an additional 16.9 cu.-ft. of cargo. A touch of a button quickly folds the second- and third-row seats to open up a cargo area wide enough to handle 4×8-foot sheets of plywood and other gear; and an optional hands-free liftgate makes loading and unloading easy.
Available infotainment features include Sync 3 with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, premium B&O Play sound system, wireless smartphone charging (as well as one 120-volt outlet, four 12-volt powerpoints, and six USB ports), WiFi hotspot, and Sync Connect app-based vehicle controls that will allow you to lock, unlock, and remotely start the vehicle, and more. An available rear-seat entertainment package with screens built into the back of the front-seat headrests allows you to connect to your home cable television through Sling TV.
The 2018 Ford Expedition carries a starting price of $51,695 (stepping up to four-wheel drive adds about $2.000 more, and destination fees add $1,195). If you’ve got a bigger budget, it’s possible to push the price of the fully loaded Platinum edition up above $81,000.