Despite a revamp, the 2018 Ford Expedition remains an old-school truck-based full-size SUV. We say “old-school” because many modern crossovers have what’s called a unibody construction: They’re essentially one piece. The Expedition, however, uses a body-on-frame setup. The lower section is often called a “ladder frame”: There are two girderlike steel rails running front to back, connected by steel “rungs.” Then the body goes above that. Pickup trucks are built this way, and most SUVs of older design are pickup-based.
The advantage is that body-on-frame vehicles tend to have superior towing talents. When properly equipped, the Expedition can pull 9,300 pounds. It also offers a power-operated third-row seat that folds into the floor, creating a level cargo area.
The Expedition offers seating for up to eight occupants. For those who want even more room, there’s the extended-wheelbase Max version, which is 11.9 inches longer overall.
Ownership will involve frequent visits to the gas station, so its appeal is naturally limited. But a large family with outdoorsy pursuits and perhaps a boat on a trailer or a horse box should find the Expedition to be an extremely suitable pick.
What’s New for 2018?
The Expedition sees some major upgrades for this model year. The longer-wheelbase EL version has been renamed the Max. The drivetrain receives increased engine output and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Both the nose and tail are redesigned (for an arguably more elegant look). The cabin is refreshed. And trim levels, equipment and options bundles are revised.
What We Like
Styling; cool cabin technology; power-folding third-row seat; trucklike capabilities; smooth ride; space
What We Don’t
Thirst (although the new drivetrain improves matters over last year)
$52,890-$73,905 (regular length); $55,580-$76,595 (Max)
All Expedition and Expedition Max models use a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque (that’s up from 365 hp and 420 lb-ft). A stop/start function helps save a little gas. The Platinum trim offers a boost to 400 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque.
The transmission is a 10-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is the default setup, while all-wheel drive is optional.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the rear-drive Expedition with the regular wheelbase should achieve 17 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in combined driving. The all-wheel-drive version manages 15 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.
The Expedition Max returns 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined in rear-drive form and 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Ford Expedition is offered in regular- or extended- (Max) wheelbase form, in XLT, Limited and Platinum trim levels.
The XLT ($52,890/$55,580) comes with 18-inch wheels, a roof rack, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, an external security keypad, push-button start, cruise control, power-adjustable pedals, heated/power-folding side mirrors, a partially powered driver’s seat, split second-row seats that slide and recline, a power-folding third row, a rearview camera with a washer, the SYNC voice-command system, a 4.2-in screen, Bluetooth and a 6-speaker sound system with USB connectivity, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input.
An FX4 Off Road package is new for 2017 and applicable to the XLT trim. This bundle includes a heavy-duty radiator, a dedicated suspension and underbody skid plates.
The Limited ($63,780/$66,465) brings 20-inch wheels, a power tailgate, front parking sensors, leather upholstery for the first two rows, heated/ventilated front seats with 10-way power adjustment (including lumbar support) and driver’s-side memory functions, a power-adjustable steering wheel, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, heated outer second-row seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, powered running boards, a 110-volt power outlet, Wi-Fi, wireless smartphone charging, an upgraded audio system and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen.
The XLT and Limited are both eligible for the Driver Assistance package, which includes adaptive cruise with stop/go, lane-keeping assistance, forward-collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams and rain-sensing front wipers.
The Platinum ($73,905/$76,595) moves up to 22-in wheels, a panoramic sunroof, full LED lighting, hands-free tailgate operation, massaging front seats, a 360-degree camera system and all the features from the Driver Assistance package.
All-wheel drive (with a 7-mode Terrain Management System) is around $3,000. Some standard equipment in the higher trims is optional in lower trims. Other extras include a self-parking system, an air suspension with automatic load leveling, power-retractable running boards, a rear entertainment system, second-row captain’s chairs that reduce seating capacity to seven, and a Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow package.
Ford equips every Expedition with its Safety Canopy System, which includes front, front side and 3-row side curtain airbags. A rollover sensor can activate the side and curtain airbags even if there’s no collision. AdvanceTrac with roll stability control helps keep the vehicle from veering off course when skidding or plowing, while electronic traction control reduces wheel spin on slippery surfaces.
Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are standard throughout the range. The Limited trim has front sensors as standard, plus a blind spot monitoring system that’s optional in the XLT. Every Expedition has a trailer sway control as standard.
In government crash testing, the Expedition received a perfect five stars overall, including five stars in frontal impacts and five stars in side impacts.
Behind the Wheel
For something this big and comfortable, it doesn’t wallow and lean. Some credit goes to a suspension design that allows the two rear wheels to move up and down independently. The optional self-leveling rear suspension also helps with body control.
Steering feel is heavy but not laborious. The ride is smooth and the cabin quiet, but catch a strong crosswind and the steering wheel will need a firm grasp, ready to make quick course corrections. Happily, the EcoBoost V6 has more than enough muscle to move a full load of passengers and gear without issue.
The Expedition presents some challenges in cities. Although the parking sensors, rearview camera and integrated blind spot mirrors help, there’s no getting away from its substantial size.
The upside is massive cargo space. In the regular model, that area begins with 19.3 cu ft. with all seats in place. Fold the third row for 63.6 cu ft. (with the second row shifted as far forward as possible) and flip down both rows for 104.6 cu ft. In the Max, we’re looking at 34.3, 79.6 (second row fully forward) and 121.4 cu ft., respectively.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Chevrolet Tahoe — Offers a V8 option with more power than the Expedition can muster. But its rear seats don’t fold flush into the floor and don’t offer as much legroom. Also look at the GMC Yukon and the Chevy Suburban.
2018 Nissan Armada — Comes with a 390-hp V8 engine. No long-wheelbase variant, though.
2018 Toyota Sequoia — Not as many creature comforts nor as much towing capacity. And hardly the freshest on the block. But it traditionally enjoys better resale values than the Expedition.
A Limited version with the Driver Assistance package would be a good spot to aim for, then adjust lower or higher depending on budget.