For a car that has been a staple of Ford’s line-up, the 2018 Ford Expedition almost feels like a new addition, and the company’s verbiage and marketing talking points often highlight this sentiment. It is not surprising then that they are calling this a second generation when the Expedition brand has been a part of the SUV segment since the nineties.
The numerous updates brought about by this redesign have transformed the car, making it easier to spot when placed beside last year’s model, but at the same time it is both larger and lighter. These and other upgrades all point to a better driving experience when 2018 Ford Expedition arrives in showrooms later this year.
A New Look All Over
Fans of the old Expedition will be forgiven if they feel pangs of regret and envy when the newer model is parked beside them. The outgoing model can only be described as a lumbering beast, not afraid to show it size as well as its apparent weight. The perception of size is also from the fact that it was part of the last remaining body-on-frame SUVs on the market. This truck-based design ends up adding more weight, taking out all hopes to make them fuel efficient.
The 2018 Ford Expedition streamlines the exterior and brings the design language of that has been standard in the other segments of the car company. Out front the prominent chrome grille with the oval logo has been retooled to add a more masculine and aggressive look. It sweeps back to headlights to make them appear a singular unit. The hood loses the already diminished curve it sports and has become more straightforward. The same goes for the front bumper and its accent, with larger halogen fog lamps prominently displayed on both ends.
A sweeping side crease starts from the tip of the headlights and runs through the entire side panels, doors and all, and ends at the rear barely touching the taillights. The side windows now appear more coherent as their bottom line runs perfectly parallel to the side crease.
The rear part of the car carries the same design modifications, with large taillights that wrap to the side, a large chrome strip covering the entire width of the rear door with the car’s name on it, also doubling as its handle.
Wheels range from 18-inch machined face aluminum on the standard trim up to the 22-inch polished aluminum available for the Platinum. Buyers of the Platinum trim are also getting satin chrome door handles (as opposed to the standard body-colored ones) and a satin aluminum roof rack.
This sleek makeover has the 2018 Ford Expedition looking more and more like its smaller siblings, particularly the Ford Explorer, all without adding weight or bulkiness to the SUV. In fact, it has become even lighter and longer (by about 4 inches). This is possible thanks to the reinforced steel frame and an all-aluminum body.
A similar weight-loss program was applied to the F-150 to great results. Overall, this makeover has made the Expedition lighter by about 300 pounds. The weight savings can then lead to better power efficiency and fuel economy.
Inside, the same chiseled look can be seen everywhere. Gone are the four circular air vents found on the dashboard replaced with four massive vertical ones with additional overhead vents to cover the farther rows. The dashboard is dominated by a large 8-inch screen powered by Ford’s Sync Tech and is dotted by redesigned buttons above and below. Bigger buttons and knobs are now laid out for volume and radio tuning as well as climate control.
Another significant change is the absence of the vertical shifter. Instead, down at the center console are two knobs. One acts as the car’s shifter while the smaller one adjusts the car’s driving modes. The four-spoked steering wheel has also been slightly tweaked to accommodate better controls and is now wrapped in leather on all trims. Drivers also have access to an overhead console that has a dedicated storage for sunglasses as well as a conversation mirror as an added safety feature.
Aside from the passenger side, there are two rows of seats that can bring the seating capacity conveniently up to 7 people. An option to replace the second-row seats with two bucket seats is also available. To accommodate larger items, these seats can fold flat completely. The second row has a 40/20/40 split while the third row has a 60/40 split, so one can get creative in fitting oddly shaped items. Furthermore, an advanced cargo management system allows one to organize items by adding another level of storage in the boot.
The additional space also means it can now hold 4 coat hooks and 15 cup holders. That’s 6 in the front row, another 6 in the second row, and 3 found in the third row. Anyone needing power can tap from four 12v power sources or any of the 6 USB ports dotted inside the cabin (two per row). Nine speakers around the car take care of audio duties, which can be upgraded to 12 in addition to the optional second row head mounted entertainment system.
The 2018 Ford Expedition boasts of over 40 features including technologies that enhance the driving experience. Right behind the wheel is another screen that shows important driving stats such as miles traveled and fuel capacity. Additional modes make use of the myriad of sensors to indicate tire pressure and even the need for maintenance. No tech discussion about Ford would be complete without its very own Sync, the impressive system that allows drivers to make hands-free phone calls and other actions via voice or the steering wheel controls.
The screen on the dashboard is also capacitive, making it just as easy to access apps such as navigation and satellite radio. In addition, the latest version of Sync also works with Apple’s Carplay and Android’s Auto, which allows the driver to pair their phones and use voice commands or touch to take control of certain smartphone apps. You can also use your smartphone to start and even unlock your car. Need to share Internet inside the car or while camping? The car can also become a WiFi hotspot with a range of 50 feet.
Technologies such as driver assist and collision avoidance are also available for Expedition owners. Side mirrors now have a Blind Spot Information System even when you are hauling a trailer. Backing up with the said trailer is also easier with cross-traffic alert, letting the driver know if a vehicle is passing. Furthermore, you can use pro trailer backup assist to point your trailer or camper to the correct direction, and the system will do the rest.
Long drives are also made safe through lane assist, which detects that you are drifting out of your lane and vibrates the steering wheel to alert the driver. Even transferring luggage or groceries is much easier by using your foot to activate the automatic lift gate so you won’t drop anything trying to reach the handle.
Perhaps the most convenient assist feature by Ford is also not its latest, but park assist on a large SUV is a welcome addition. It senses opening spaces that it can fit, and when it has found a suitable spot, the car takes over and parks for you. You can literally walk out of the car and start your meeting like you have a personal valet. These features join the standard airbags and child seats in protecting the driver and their passengers.
Still keeping with its truck pedigree, the 2018 Expedition now carries EcoBoost Badge. It carries the same 3.5L Ecoboost V6 engine found in the 2017 Ford F-150. Take note that this a fairly new engine, which means it is the twin-turbocharged and direct injection, and in theory this engine is capable of generating the same power and torque usually expected from much larger engines, making it pretty efficient for its size. This engine is mated with 10-speed automatic transmission, which is capable of producing 370 horsepower for 470 pound-feet of torque. Platinum trim owners can expect even more power. All this power gives the Expedition a maximum towing capacity of 9,300 pounds, which is the best in its class.
How Does It Drive?
The car comes in both short-wheelbase and extended-wheelbase edition (called Expedition Max), which can then have three different trims. An option for an all-wheel drive is present as well. Regardless, the driving experience will be largely the same for all the versions of the SUV.
Zero to sixty is estimated to be at 6.5 seconds, with top speed at 120 miles per hour. Despite all the numbers, though, the 2018 Expedition is poised to provide a balance of power, responsiveness, and engine performance, wrapped in a comfortable ride. Despite it being larger than the previous model, the weight loss makes it easy to get around the city and does not lose control when you step on the pedal when you reach the open road.
Riding on SUVs is already a pleasant experience, but Ford’s adaptive suspension together with its independent rear suspension and front suspension should improve the ride quality. This adaptive suspension called continuously controlled dampers again employs an army of sensors to take note of data gathered from the road and then use them to adjust and provide the most appropriate reaction at any given time. Wheels stay to the ground when cornering, and there is minimal body roll for a large car. Steering is electric, but it points the wheels with a certain accuracy only mechanical and sports steering wheels can top.
Trailing a car is less of a hassle with adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts braking and throttle as you see fit as well as the vehicle you are trailing. You can also literally have the SUV stop remotely when the car in front stops and then resume driving when the car has started moving.
Lovers of the all-wheel drive and the off-roads will find the terrain management system essential. TMS works alongside the Expedition’s excellent suspension to allow the SUV to get through any location you point the car to. Controls for the TMS are found just below the vertical shifter in the center console and have four modes: Normal, Mud, Sand, and Snow. Drivers going to the roads less taken can simply switch the dials to go the desired mode.
Regular driving can be set at Normal, making distribution of torque equal along all axles. Mud engages the throttle to more aggressive, prevents too much upshifting, and adjusts stability control to provide more tire spin and keep the momentum of the vehicle. Sand mode applies maximum torque to the wheels while Snow mode sets the throttle to favor less wheel slippage. Once you have successfully negotiated one obstacle, you simply turn the TMS knob to get ready for the next one. You can literally climb inclines and then get yourself out of a muddy situation at any given time.
Newer drivers often gravitate to unibody SUVs due to their perceived performance and efficiency, but technology has advanced quite a lot in the past years that larger SUVs like the 2018 Ford Expedition can still gather quite a following. The arrival of the new Expedition comes at a perfect time since most SUVs in its segment have continued to use the formula of big engines to power the heavy frame it carries. The Expedition has proven that smaller, yet more efficient, engines have a room in the market, with the help of intelligent engineering and design that helped bring down their weight and still produce a large frame and sleek design.
Despite starting at around $52,000, one should get the all-wheel version if possible though as this SUV demands to be taken off-road as much as it gets driven to the grocery store