– Powerful turbo engine
– Cabin space and features
– Good ride and handling
– Limited styling updates
– Steering lacks feedback
– Hard cabin plastics
The Ford Expedition in its current form has been around for more than a decade, surviving only on facelifts. Not only had it remained alien to most people in the region, but even a low price tag comparable to that of smaller SUVs didn’t help sales. However, it has been gaining ground in recent years, especially in Saudi Arabia with the demise of the Crown Victoria. It just received another facelift in 2015, with several new features and a powerful new engine, making it a much more interesting proposition.
Our Expedition tester is the top-of-the-line Platinum edition. The Expedition received a minor facelift for 2015, with the exterior changes limited to redesigned headlamps and tail lamps, LED fog lamps in the front, and revised front and rear fascia. Interestingly, it came with powered side-steps which remains folded and deploys only when a door is opened, hence solving the ground-clearance issue the traditional fixed side-steps pose for offroaders. Although the 22-inch “bling-bling” rims on our tester are not off-road friendly at first glance, it still comes with underbody skid-plates for the engine, transmission and fuel tank.
The changes to the interior of the new Expedition are visually limited, but technically significant. Some notable features include a dual-LCD gauge cluster with steering controls, Ford’s Sync DVD navigation infotainment system with rear screens and reverse camera, Sony sound system with 14 speakers, ambient lighting, push-button start, electric liftgate, a strong a/c with rear vents and controls, electric flat-folding third-row seats and lots of storage spaces, to name a few. Our tester even came with the optional second-row captain’s chairs.
Safety features include up to 6 airbags, traction and stability control systems featuring brake-assist and engine-braking, ESP with roll stability control, post-crash alert system, theft alarm and more as standard. Our tester came with blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, standard in all but the most basic of trims.
In the Platinum spec, the Expedition offers leather upholstery, including leather seats, leather-stitched steering wheel, and leather inserts in the mid-panels of the doors. However, the entire dash and all panels throughout the car were hard plastic that gave off a cheap hollow feel when tapped on. The fit and finish seemed good though.
Space is good throughout, with adequate legroom and headroom for occupants in all rows, quite notably for the third-row, which is amongst the most spacious we have come across, comfortably seating even regular-sized adults. The second-row captain’s seats in our tester could be slid forward and backward for further legroom adjustments between the second and third-row occupants. In case you still feel out of space in this oversized SUV, then there is a longer-wheelbase version called the ‘Expedition EL’ available, with even more space than your average living room.
The real change in the latest Ford Expedition is under the hood. Replacing the old V8 unit is the more-powerful 3.5-litre “Ecoboost” V6 engine, which Ford claims has better fuel efficiency. Cranking out 365 hp at 5000 rpm and 569 Nm of torque at 2250 rpm, the turbocharged engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and automatic four-wheel-drive. There is no noticeable turbo-lag, and power delivery is fairly linear across the rev range. The throttle response is very good too, instant and satisfying. We got a 0-100 kph time of 7.4 seconds. But when it came to fuel efficiency, our trip computer recorded 16.7 litres/100 km, which is closer to V8 levels than V6.
As with all Fords, the suspension tuning is one aspect that makes the Expedition stand out from the pack. Despite being a humongous family-hauling SUV, the Expedition handles rather nicely, with less-obvious body roll in comparison to its competitors, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Toyota Sequoia. We never thrashed it around corners like morons, but to the extent we took it, the Expedition felt and drove more like a big car than the body-on-frame truck that it is, being easy to manoeuvre even in heavy city traffic conditions, thanks to nicely-weighted steering with a good turning circle, although largely lacking in feedback. The body motions are well-controlled, with no untoward behaviour observed upon sudden steering inputs.
The Expedition lives up to the expectation of being a comfortable family hauler. The ride comfort is commendable, and is further helped by the adaptive damping system available only in the Platinum trim. Yet, a miniscule bit of harshness was evident in our tester, thanks to the relatively low-profile 285/45 tyres wrapping those 22-inch ‘thug-life’ rims. Ford has done an excellent job soundproofing the cabin too. The engine noise is well-muffled, and unless floored, only a slight hum can be heard. There is some wind noise at motorway speeds, but no noticeable road noise.
Although the Ford Expedition has never been particularly touted as a serious off-roader, it does come with all the goods, namely low-range gearing, excellent gear ratios, decent approach and departure angles, and a powerful engine. We never took our tester off the tarmac, but with the right set of tyres, we speculate the Expedition will perform perfectly fine in most off-road scenarios if you know what you’re doing. In fact, we did take the older V8 Expedition offroad years ago, and it did very well in the desert. The new one has even more low-end torque, so you do the math.
Except for Saudi Arabia, the Ford Expedition is a very underrated vehicle in the rest of the GCC region, playing second-fiddle to the modern Explorer. But with the latest facelift, the Ford Expedition now has enough bells and whistles to hold its own in the large-SUV segment. With several safety features as standard, good space, great engine, excellent comfort and up-to-date tech, all for a price that’s hugely competitive, there’s no reason not to check one out when shopping for a mainstream family offroader.
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