Reviewing cars has its perks. Not just driving a different vehicle every week, but also having the opportunity to request a specific vehicle for a specific occasion. If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know we usually try to take special vehicles out anytime we’re planning a road trip or a family getaway. For the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to score some really great family vehicles to haul my wife and four kids around during these times. I specifically asked for the new Expedition this week as it’s Thanksgiving week and we’re traveling with the family. Thankfully, Ford was able to make it happen. My time with this big SUV was spent traveling with the family, giving me even more insight on how this vehicle would be to live with everyday for the average, larger, Texas family. The Expedition is the biggest SUV in the Ford lineup today since dropping the Excursion in 2005. This is the last traditional body-on-frame SUV in the Ford lineup being based off the F-150’s platform. The Explorer is now based on a car platform, the same as the Taurus, and although it’s still a great family vehicle, you’ll actually see more families looking at the Expedition for it’s extra size and capabilities.
The first generation was introduced to the market as a 1997-year model. This 2015 refresh keeps it classified as a 3rd generation, but comes with some much-needed updates inside and out. Let’s check out what they’ve done inside this big SUV to make it more attractive to the modern SUV consumer.
Inside the Expedition, you get a similar layout to the outgoing models, but you’ll get a lot of updated materials throughout. You get standard seating for 8-passengers with an optional 7-passenger configuration. There are not many vehicles out today that hold up to 8-passengers and I was definitely able to take advantage of the extra room while carting the family around during our Thanksgiving break. If you don’t need all the room for people, you can also fold down the 3rd-row. In our King Ranch, this was done with a touch of a button, giving you even more cargo room. The 2nd-row split bench can also be folded for a maximum of 108.3 cubic feet of storage. In comparison, the new Chevrolet Tahoe, standard length, has 94.7 cubic feet of storage.
Also added for the 2015 model year is Ford’s SYNC with MyFord Touch and an 8-inch touch-screen center display. The SYNC system is optional in the XLT trim, but comes standard with Limited, King Ranch, and Platinum models. You also get 2 LCDs on either side of the speedometer. These 4.2-inch displays show you all kinds of information from your fuel economy, radio settings, vehicle info, to navigation details. This is nothing new for most vehicles in the Ford lineup, but is a much-appreciated update for the Expedition.
Our King Ranch trim provided us with a beautiful interior trimmed in Mesa Brown leather embossed with the famous Running W and features Kingsville stitching. You also get some really nice looking wood trim and an over feel of ruggedness and luxury throughout. The King Ranch interior transforms this family SUV into a full on luxury vehicle.
Looking at the exterior, you’ll notice the 2015 has a new and more aggressive looking front end. This front end is made to convey a bolder look and distinguish this as the flagship of Ford’s SUV lineup. The grille and lower fascia come in a finish unique to each of the four models, including the all-new luxury Platinum trim. Also available are new projector headlamps and standard LED fog lamps to help enhance performance in an elegant, contemporary style. Our King Ranch model comes with exterior badges and two-tone paint rounding off its unique trim.
With all the added features to the 2015 Expedition, there’s one thing you can’t get that you could with the 2014. Under the hood, your only powertrain option is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine; no longer can you get a V8. This engine has been proven in both the F-150 and Explorer as a premium engine delivering V8 performance and V6 fuel economy. It only makes sense that this would be the one powertrain offered. The EcoBoost engine pushes out 365-horsepower and a best-in-class 420-lb-ft. of torque. The 5.3-liter V8 available in the new Tahoe pushes 355-hp and 383-lb-ft. of torque in comparison.
This engine is hooked up with a 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission and, when equipped with the towing package, has best-in-class max towing of 9,200-lbs. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to tow anything during my week reviewing this SUV, I have had the opportunity to tow with many different setups in the F-150 and it’s made effortless with this engine and Ford’s towing control systems.
Whether you’re driving this vehicle round the big city or down backcountry roads, you’re going to feel right at home. The suspension is soft ridding your back of any harsh roads you may encounter. You still have good steering feel, though, allowing you to take corners or make highway maneuvers with the utmost confidence. When it’s time to make a pass, or get up and go for any reason, the EcoBoost is your best friend. You have plenty of power on tap to move this big, heavy vehicle down the road even when it’s loaded down. Of course, putting that foot down doesn’t help with fuel economy but the EcoBoost tries to help out there as well. The 4×2 vehicles were rated at 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. During our time with the Expedition, we found our average consumption closer to high 19’s, which is really good for this size of vehicle. In comparison, during our time with the Tahoe we average in the low 18’s.
So the drive is good, the interior is updated and much more luxurious, and you get some great looks, but how does all that translate to a better ride for the family? When you’re dealing with hauling around 4, or more, kids plus a significant other in the passenger seat, most smaller SUVs can feel a bit crowded. Even your good 3-row SUVs get pretty tight when packed to their max of 6 passengers. Having the extra room makes long road trip or every day tasks like getting in and out just that much easier.
You also have a lot of great utility and technology with this new Expedition that helps keep the kids happy. For example, you get multiple USB adapters to keep all your gadgets charged. You also get a full 110v plug in the second row ready to power whatever electronics you want to throw at it. Our review vehicle didn’t have them, but you can also get a DVD entertainment system with screens built into the headrests.
There is really only one main competitor left for the Expedition and that’s the vehicle I’ve constantly been mentioning during this review. The Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban is really the only other vehicle out there with the size or seating capacity to match. The Tahoe is a great family SUV and is packed with luxury and technology just like this Expedition. You will be looking at spending a bit more money with the Chevrolet, though. The base price of a Tahoe is $47,240 and the base Expedition is $43,585. If you’re looking at something equipped like our King Ranch you’re looking just over $57k on Ford’s side and just over $60k on Chevy’s.
I’m often asked if I ever have a hard time giving vehicles back at the end of the week when it’s time to swap into the next ride. My answer is almost always no, as I’m eager to jump into the next new vehicle. With this 2015 Expedition, though, it wasn’t just me but my whole family was sad to see it go. This is definitely a vehicle we would aspire to that would be able to fit all the needs of our family. This is one vehicle that will really be missed in our household and I couldn’t recommend it enough for any family with the means to get one.