Comparo: 2015 Ford Expedition vs Chevrolet Tahoe vs Nissan Armada

Comparo: 2015 Ford Expedition vs Chevrolet Tahoe vs Nissan Armada

Let’s face it — if you’ve ever shopped for a three-row 4×4 as a family vehicle in the UAE, the Ford Expedition was never on your radar. The most popular choices in the mainstream full-size segment have so far been the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Nissan Armada, both very capable V8-powered SUVs that are similarly-priced and well-received. But the Ford Expedition, which has actually been gaining ground in Saudi Arabia for a while now, has undergone a major transformation of sorts for 2015, mostly under the skin, so we pitched it against its closest rivals, a friend’s leased Tahoe and another friend’s family Armada, to see if it’s any good.

We would’ve thrown more cars into this mix, but there wouldn’t be much of a point — the Toyota Sequoia is forgotten and the GMC Yukon is just a clone of the Tahoe, while the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Nissan Patrol are in a class above in terms of overall pricing.

Style & Desirability

2015 Ford vs Chevrolet vs Nissan 2

Let’s be honest here. None of these trucklets are particularly desirable, and people buy them just to not be seen in a minivan, so we’re not going to rank them in this category. That said, the Ford Expedition received a minor facelift for 2015 that includes a new grille, new tailgate and a choice of wheel sizes between 18-inches to 22-inches, so it looks fairly handsome but still conservative, ultimately showing its age.

The Chevrolet Tahoe underwent a major redesign last year and we kind of like the new look, although we’ve met several potential buyers who don’t share our view, so we’ll mark it down as polarising. While our tester has 18-inch wheels, the largest you can get are 22-inchers.

We do believe the Nissan Armada has truly unique styling, with its domed roof and squared-off haunches, and the only reason it doesn’t register any looks nowadays is that it’s a decade old. It comes with 20-inch alloys, while base models get 18-inchers.

Interior size & cargo room

2015 Nissan Armada 4

1st: Nissan Armada
The big old Armada is a bit longer than the other two. As such, it benefits from the largest second-row legroom, the second-best third-row legroom, and easily the biggest boot in its class, if you don’t count the stupidly-long Suburban and Expedition EL models.

2nd: Ford Expedition
The Expedition has the least second-row legroom of the three, but that compromise allows it to have the best third-row legroom, with good space for adults. The version we tested had captain’s chairs for the second row, but we’d say skip that and just get a bench seat. It also has more usable boot space than the Tahoe.

3rd: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe has more space than the previous generation, but there are still compromises made due to its solid-axle rear suspension. While rear legroom is a bit more than the Expedition, the Tahoe has a cramped third row that requires a squatting seating position and therefore nearly useless for adults. The boot also has a raised load floor that reduces cargo volume. However, the base Tahoe can be had with a three-seater configuration up front, although we wouldn’t recommend actually making someone sit in the middle.

Interior quality & features

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 1

1st: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe gets upgraded cabin materials now, such as a stitched-leatherette dashboard and largely-padded surfaces, with hard plastics mostly relegated to lower areas. In terms of features, there’s a touchscreen infotainment system, although our basic trim had a simpler system. Also available on higher trims are items such as a bigger touchscreen, rear-view camera, navigation, powered tailgate, electric fold-out side-steps, rear DVD screen, cooled seats and smart key with remote start, among other things.

2nd: Nissan Armada
The Armada last got a facelift in 2008, and with it came the redesigned interior we had in our test car. Nissan was using soft-touch surfaces on the dash and doors long before the Americans, and has less hard plastics within reach, but it comes in second due to its aging infotainment touchscreen graphics. It does have the basics though, such as a power tailgate, nav, rear-view camera, rear ceiling-mounted DVD screen, smart key and such, but nothing else too fancy.

3rd: Ford Expedition
Our test car was a top-spec version, and even after this major facelift, it’s still saddled with a hard-plastic dashboard and door tops. Whatever padded bits there are is nicely done, and the “SYNC” infotainment touchscreen is slightly more advanced than the ones in its rivals. But the screen has small icons, and even with powered side-steps, electric tailgate, rear camera, cooled seats, smart key with remote start and all that, the cheap cabin ambience is a downer. We suspect Ford has left the real update for the next-gen model, coming in a couple of years.

Engine power & acceleration

2015 Ford vs Chevrolet vs Nissan 5

1st: Ford Expedition
It’s an easy win for the Ford, with 365 hp from a new turbocharged V6, but more importantly, 569 Nm of torque from just 2500 rpm. Mated to a 6-speed and four-wheel-drive, it managed the 0-100 kph run in 7.4 seconds in our summer testing, and offers good passing power even from 100 kph.

2nd: Chevrolet Tahoe
Armed with a 355 hp 5.3-litre V8 mated to a 6-speed and four-wheel-drive, the Tahoe managed the 0-100 kph run in 8.1 seconds. The burbly V8 offers good initial power, even with a slow-responding throttle pedal, although it can start feeling a bit out of steam if prodded for a quick burst of acceleration at highway speeds, as all of its 519 Nm of peak torque only comes into play at a high 4100 rpm.

3rd: Nissan Armada
The Armada has the least power, making 317 hp from its 5.6-litre V8, mated to a 5-speed and four-wheel-drive. With its 521 Nm of torque peaking at a respectable 3400 rpm, it makes the most of its lower output, with a run of 8.4 seconds in our 0-100 kph test. Nissan has a more modern 400 hp version of this V8 as an option in the Patrol, but the Armada doesn’t benefit from it. Still, the engine responds evenly at any speed and doesn’t suffer from any lag.

Fuel economy

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 4

1st: Chevrolet Tahoe
Surprisingly for an old-school V8, the Tahoe’s engine ended up with the best fuel economy, at 16 litres/100 km in mixed driving. As it’s the only one with cylinder-deactivation tech, our Tahoe even saw numbers as low as 12 litres/100 km with more highway driving. Drive it with aggression in the city though, and it can easily hit 20 litres/100 km.

2nd: Ford Expedition
We expected the Expedition to post the best numbers, but it only managed an average of 17.2 litres/100 km, not varying much from that figure no matter how fast or how slow we drove over the course of several days.

3rd: Nissan Armada
The Armada isn’t too far behind, at 17.5 litres/100 km. In mixed driving, it generally bounces between 17 and 18 litres/100 km.

Ride comfort & noise

2015 Ford Expedition EcoBoost 4

1st: Ford Expedition
The Expedition rides surprisingly well on its 22-inch alloys, thanks to an optional new adaptive-damping system for its four-wheel independent suspension. There’s a mild firmness felt on some surfaces due to the low-profile tyres, but overall it’s almost as good as a Range Rover. Lower-spec versions get non-adaptive but still-independent suspension with 20-inch wheels, and they still ride smoothly too. Road and wind noise are decently isolated from the cabin as well. And the large windows offer the best all-round visibility.

2nd: Nissan Armada
The Armada also comes with four-wheel independent suspension, and therefore rides fairly well, with not much floatiness and decent sound-deadening. The fact that it manages this without using fancy air suspension is commendable. Rearward visibility isn’t particularly good though, and its longer length makes it a bit more complicated to park.

3rd: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe has the worst ride among the three. The ride is fairly silent but a bit jittery, partly due to its solid-axle rear suspension, yet larger bumps are damped out as if they’re being flattened when you lightly bounce over them, at least with the meaty tyres on the base LS model with smaller wheels. The top-spec Tahoe can be had with adaptive suspension and 22-inch alloys, but in our experience, they don’t eliminate the random surface-dependent harshness, and rather just reduces the floatiness on uneven surfaces. And outward visibility is hindered by the high beltline.

Handling & driving dynamics

2015 Ford vs Chevrolet vs Nissan 3

1st: Ford Expedition
The top-trim Expedition benefits from mechanical load-leveling to eliminate sag when carrying heavy cargo, and new continuously-controlled damping with driver-selectable suspension settings. So it’s no surprise that the handling is also the best we’ve encountered in this class, as the Expedition offers good body control around corners and never feels tipsy. The steering and brakes are also fairly responsive, even if lacking in feel.

2nd: Nissan Armada
The Armada is also a good handler for its size, and it does so without gimmicky suspension. Corners reveal moderate body roll, but it has good body control, as there is no boat-like rocking after sharp turns, unlike in our base Tahoe. Grip is good enough at moderate speeds, but not as high as that of the Expedition. The steering and brakes are responsive, but the controls are overly light.

3rd: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe is the softest handler here, in base trim at least. Body roll is very noticeable, and its responses to steering inputs feel delayed and rubbery, although it still never feels tipsy. Things improve with the adaptive suspension on top-spec models, with better body control and no jiggly shenanigans on sudden steering inputs.

Offroad abilities

2015 Ford vs Chevrolet vs Nissan

1st: Ford Expedition
While none of these can bash dunes as hard as a Wrangler, the Expedition is the best equipped of the lot, with a torquey engine and good ground clearance. There is an aerodynamic lip under the front bumper, but it’s set back far enough to retain a good approach angle. If you’re serious about offroading, the slightly-smaller wheels on the lower-spec trims might be a better option.

2nd: Nissan Armada
The Armada is very good too, and can take a fair beating, considering it shares its platform with the Patrol. It has the best ground clearance of the group and has enough sidewall on its tyres to manage soft sand, but the engine needs to be pushed a bit harder than the Ford’s, and care needs to be taken to not get beached on top of a dune.

3rd: Chevrolet Tahoe
The Tahoe is a body-on-frame SUV with low-range gearing, as are the other two contenders, but this Chevy is hindered by the lowest ground clearance of this group, not to mention a ridiculously low lip on the front bumper. The lazy throttle response doesn’t help either. And our nearly-new rental’s rear diff was already making odd noises when 4×4 was engaged, but we’ll put that down to being specific to our car. But you can manage a fair bit if you figure out how to remove that lip, otherwise you’ll have to stick to flat sand or pony up the extra cash for a “Z71” model that comes with an offroad-friendlier bumper and suspension.

Verdict

2015 Ford vs Chevrolet vs Nissan 6

This one’s tough. All three have their good points, but are also flawed in some way or the other. The Expedition is the quickest and most satisfying to drive, with a usable third row, but has a plasticky interior. The Armada is also decent to drive and has the most overall space, but is a bit too big and nowhere near as quick as the Ford while burning just as much fuel. And the Tahoe, which we liked when we reviewed it on its own, appears to be the most compromised when pitched against the other two, with a useless third row, a high cargo load floor and a truck-like drive, but has the saving grace of a nice cabin ambience and an engine that’s a good bit more fuel-efficient than anything else. And while we didn’t have a Toyota Sequoia here today, maybe you should give that a look as well. Or check out midsizers such as the Dodge Durango and the Nissan Pathfinder, both as spacious as these bigger 4x4s, more fuel-efficient and only lacking offroad capabilities. It boils down to what your priorities are.

But hey, we’re not going to play neutral here. Which one would we pick? Personally, we’d probably either wait for the next-gen Expedition based on the ground-breaking new Ford F-150, or just save up a bit longer and get a 400 hp Nissan Patrol LE.

For prices and specs, visit the Ultimate Car Buyer Guide.

With inputs from Vivek Menon and Rahul Jones. Photos by Mashfique H. Chowdhury.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. We used to have a 2010 expedition – as a family – equipped with the 5.3 liter V8. It was useless off road because of its weight. But it made up its off road flaws due to it huge people-carrying capacity. Also I remember the AC unit came under stress in AD traffic in summers. Additionally I recall the trip computer fuel economy reading were inaccurate most times – you actually had to reset it always to figure out your proper consumption. So I dont know if they actually changed with alongside the new V6 engine. However fuel economy was quiet average for a SUV of its size, a friend of mine got one as a family outing car, he mentioned a vast improvement from the V8 in terms of power on the pedal.

    • @Hamad. Coincidently this may be the last Expedition until a total new one based on current generation F150 pops up whereas I own an Expedition from very first generation. My 1998 Expedition is contradiction to your statement in following ways. Does extremely well Offroad. Has small metal bumpers, good ground clearance, unlike huge body colored plasticky ones in new models. The decade old car is slow but torquey and it helps in soft sand. Massive leg space between 1st and 2 row, however this leads to cramped 3rd row unlike new models. The 3rd row itself is single bench seat and doesn’t fold to floor and like the Wrangler has to folded and removed from cabin in case you need complete flat bed. The dashboard is plasticky, but all the 5 door panel is made of soft touch material, very similar to 2002 Ford Focus. This 16 yr old truck has stock 6 way power adjustable front seat, power windows, 6 cd changer, separate audio control and power sockets for rear passengers, things we talk about proudly now a days, but dealer skips them and offers different car models with single air bag and abs these days and puts a sport tag. It has clocked around 2,60,000 KMS and is still serviced at the dealer although they rip you off. Also it has 4 mode 4wd switch means, 2wd, All wheel drive, 4 L, 4H. I hear after year 2000 they just kept 3 modes and with every coming year they concentrated on comfort and road manners and improvising cabin space. For 152 dhs of petrol and a light foot it offers a range of 650KMS. Recently I bought another small 4×4 but still am in confusion about selling the Expedition. May be I will keep it for couple of more years.

  2. Brilliant comparison, and almost perfectly timed for me 🙂 I had been evaluating these and also the Sequoia, for purchase. I had been kind of avoiding the Armada, due to its age and also the fact that it has 5 gears, but the comparison has shown the strong points that Armada still presents and especially the third row comparison (so valuable in my case and a lot of people in the Middle East, I suppose), with clear shots of the same, showing the facts (avoided by most other comparisons).

    I have already been inside the Sequoia and was thinking trying out the Armada now, especially after this article. Sometimes old school is good, atleast we would be sure that its tried and tested!

  3. Save up for Mercedes GL?

    • Checked out the outgoing Merc GL, the Armada and Expedition as well, came away suitably impressed by the Armada and not as much with the GL. The interiors of GL is pleasantly done (nothing as stylish as I had hoped for), but I found that switchgear and the knobs were not of the quality I had expected (I drive a VW and they have better quality knobs and switches I felt), whereas the Armada knobs and switches felt proper with good tactile feel and not something that my kids might be able to remove in less than 10 secs (which is what I felt about the GL quality). I had been particularly looking at third row and the boot space and found Sequoia, third row good, but Armada being similar and GL a bit less than both (though the Merc GL is easier to get in and get out of the third row, not to mention the electric operation for the second row fold-tumble operation). I felt the best proportion for third row space and boot is that of the Armada as compared to the Expedition, Sequoia and GL.

      Undoubtedly the third row is best in the Expedition, but the boot space suffers, the Armada seemed to have the best overall, as I needed the boot space for the kid’s pram.

  4. Nice Review. I have an impression about Expedition but always wondered what type of car Armada was. Now its much clear.

  5. Armada hasn’t changed a bit except the front grill and wooden interior
    the interior is still the same (steering , speedometer etc)

  6. overall good report!!

    the armada shown here is the one prior to the upgrade in 2013/2014. i owned that vehicle from 2008 to early 2015 and switched now to the ltz 2015.

    the other point is that this is the comparison of the basic tahoe ls vs full option expedition and armada.. so naturally you find more features on the latter two..

    while i agree with the fact that the armada is unbeatable provided how dirt cheap it is, the ltz is a much better ride, and definitely the quietest of the three (you hardly hear the engine).

    the sequoia is also decent given it only costs 200k with full options, but it looks like a larger odyssey and hence is hard to be compared to those three imho.

  7. ford explorer is better, i just got one 2015 model and every one is loving it, and the third row is better then the Tahoe and Armada, it can sit two adults very comfortably and still there is a place for luggage.

  8. Marc, you are confused. It’s the Explorer which has a facelift and not the Expedition. Expedition is the same for 2016 at least. No new models coming out up till next September.

  9. 2010 Nissan armada actually Acceleration in 6.5 sec to 7.0 Sec.
    And the power 360hp not 317hp i already try the Acceleration

  10. Ford Expedition is the best …. I have the 2012 V8 and 2015 V6 ecoboost models … nothing beats both .

    • in relation to the expedition’s dirt cheap price, i do agree.

      leaving price apart, most of the other same-sized alternatives are better imho

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