The 2014 Ford Expedition joins a small caravan of full-size SUVs capable of seating eight passengers, towing trailers over 7,000 pounds and consuming fuel like a swarm of locusts buzzing through a corn field. While no longer the rage they once were, full-size body-on-frame SUVs like the 2014 Expedition still have their place. Just ask any large family that owns a 20-foot camper or boat. While it's true that the Expedition has the least powerful V8 engine in the segment, it does boast a class-leading tow rating of 9,200 pounds.

The Expedition also has a nifty third-row seat with a power-operated seat back that folds into the floor, creating a clean, level cargo area. Then there's the matter of conveniences. Ford provides a wide array of interior colors and seating options, plus forward-thinking electronics such as the SYNC voice-activated communication system. And for those who need even more room, the EL trim extends the Expedition's rear cargo space by an additional 15 inches behind the third-row seat.

What's New for 2014?

The 2014 Expedition is unchanged.

What We Like

Standout styling; SYNC communications; power-folding third-row seat; reasonable fuel economy for its size; class-leading towing rating

What We Don't

V8 engine could use more horsepower; no MyTouch configurable instrumentation or Sony audio option, as on Explorer and Edge

How Much?

$42,175-52,710

Fuel Economy

Both the Expedition and the Expedition EL are powered by a 5.4-liter V8 engine that makes 310 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures of 14 miles per gallon city/20 mpg highway are near the upper end of the range for this class. Four-wheel-drive models are rated at 12 mpg city/17 mpg hwy. The Expedition's V8 engine is also E85 compatible.

Standard Features & Options

The 3-row Expedition is offered in either the regular-wheelbase model or the extended-wheelbase EL in three trim levels: XLT, Limited and King Ranch.

The XLT ($42,175) features 18-inch wheels, a roof rack, rear parking sensors, an external security keypad, air conditioning, cruise control, power-adjustable pedals, a power driver seat, a tilt steering wheel (no telescoping function), the SYNC voice-command system, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker audio system with iPod/USB connectivity, satellite radio and an auxiliary input.

The Limited ($48,450) steps up to niceties like a rearview camera, front parking sensors as well as those in back, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats with driver-side power lumbar support and memory settings, heated second-row seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-folding third row and an upgraded audio system.

The King Ranch ($52,710) boasts a 2-tone paint job, fancy Western-style leather upholstery and wood interior trim.

Options include an air suspension with automatic load leveling, 20-in wheels, power running boards, a rear entertainment system and second-row captain's chairs that reduce seating capacity to seven.

Cargo space is abundant in the Expedition, especially with the power-folding third-row seat lowered. When the seat is in place, the Expedition offers more headroom and legroom for its third-row passengers than the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Toyota Sequoia or the Nissan Armada.

Safety

Ford equips every 2014 Expedition with its Safety Canopy System, which includes front, front side-impact and 3-row side-curtain airbags. A rollover sensor can activate the side and curtain airbags even if there is no collision involved. AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control serves to help keep the vehicle from veering off course when skidding or plowing, while electronic traction control helps keep the tires from slipping on ice or wet pavement. For those who do a great deal of towing, the standard Trailer Sway Control can help keep items behind the vehicle stable through selective wheel braking and reduced engine power.

In government crash testing, the Expedition received four stars out of five overall, including four stars in frontal impacts and five stars in side impacts.

Behind the Wheel

The 2014 Ford Expedition is no sports car, but it doesn't wallow and lean the way SUVs of the 1980s and 1990s used to. Part of the improvement can be credited to the Expedition's independent rear suspension, a design that allows the two rear wheels to move up and down independently. Additional credit is due to the available auto-leveling rear suspension that helps minimize rear-end sag.

On the road, the Expedition's steering feel is heavy but not laboriously so. The ride is smooth and the cabin quiet, but if you catch a strong crosswind, you'll have to hold on to the steering wheel or make quick course corrections. Although not nearly as powerful as the V8 engines found in the Sequoia and Armada, the Expedition's V8 still has more than enough muscle to move a full load of passengers and gear without worry.

For city driving, the Expedition is at its worst. Its huge size is not conducive to small parking spaces or tight parallel parking maneuvers. The parking sensors, rear backup camera and integrated blind-zone mirrors greatly help with docking.

Other Cars to Consider

Chevrolet Tahoe -- The Tahoe has slightly more power and gets slightly better fuel economy than the Expedition, but its rear seats don't fold flush into the floor and don't offer as much legroom.

Nissan Armada -- The Armada has a much more powerful V8 engine, but its resale and fuel economy figures lag behind the Expedition, and it doesn't offer an extended model.

Toyota Sequoia -- The Sequoia offers two V8 engine options and has better resale value than the Expedition. The Expedition, however, can tow more weight, offers more creature comforts and has a lower base price than the Sequoia.

AutoTrader's Advice

While we love the rich interior and elegant exterior of the King Ranch trim, we know the $50,000-plus price tag won't fit into most family budgets. For this reason, we think a nicely equipped XLT is the best choice.

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