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2015 Ford Expedition Limited Big Man Review By Steve Purdy

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By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

Only a few full-size, 8-passenger, body-on-frame SUVs remain available for those who need (or want) them – GM’s Suburban, Tahoe and Yukon variants, Toyota’s Sequoia and this week’s tester, Ford’s large, F-150-based Expedition. Lincoln also offers the Navigator, a dressed-up version of this truck that we reviewed a few months ago. [] The even bigger Excursion (F-250-based SUV) went away a few years ago. So, this is Ford’s biggest SUV now.

Expedition gets a modest styling update for 2015 and is attractive in a practical and unpretentious sort of way, in this critic’s humble view. The new front fascia is distinctively Ford with a three-bar chrome grille and wrap-around headlight bezels, but it is much less stylish than the new F-150. From the side and rear views it is undistinguished, boxy and purposeful. While we haven’t seen the aerodynamic numbers we can confidently say it has a coefficient of drag just a tad better than the side of a barn.

Inside we find nice materials in the cabin with generous seating and reasonably simple controls. Our “Limited” includes Sync with AppleLink apps system and MyFordTouch controlling many of the vehicles systems. The latter continues to improve over earlier versions and with a bit of exploring mostly makes sense. Auxiliary audio inputs are conveniently located in the center console. Captain’s chairs can replace the second row bench seat making it a 7-passenger SUV rather than 8.

Cargo and passenger capabilities are extraordinary. With all seats in position we have 18.6 cubic-feet behind the third seat, 55 cubic-feet with third seat folded and 108.3 cubic-feet with second and third rows folded. The second row splits 40/20/40 and the third row 40/60 and they fold nearly flat with the second row just a few inches higher than the rear section. Seat folding mechanisms are quite easily managed and room for third row passengers seemed better than most. Our test truck has the optional power third seat folding system. The front passenger’s seat does not fold. The EL (extra-long)versions of the Navigator boast cargo volumes of 42.6, 85 and 130.8 cubic-feet. EL versions typically cost about $2,500 extra within each trim level.

Only one powertrain is available for the nearly three-ton Expedition, Fords wonderfully powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The twin turbo, direct injected engine makes a solid 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. That’s more torque, by the way, than the outgoing V8 that powered last year’s Expedition. The EPA rates the Expedition at 16 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway and 18 combined using regular fuel. We managed just 15.8 mpg in our week of testing on a variety of roads.

We thought the Expedition - and the identically powered Navigator - had plenty of grunt with that powertrain. While admittedly not towing a heavy trailer or filling the truck with heavy cargo we found acceleration strong from low end through full-throttle. With the standard 28-gallon fuel tank we have a decent cruising range but a 33.5-gallon tank is available for those who like to stop at the gas station less frequently.

Ride and handling are surprisingly good with the addition of a fully independent rear suspension setup for 2015. For a few extra bucks you can have a continuously controlled damping system in the rear as well. Our test truck did not have that option. Our country roads are beginning to heave a bit with approaching spring and the necessarily jouncy ride is accentuated by these conditions but not unreasonably so. Steering feedback is good for a pickup based SUV and the amazing quietness of the cabin helps make it feel more genteel.

Our test truck is the Limited, middle of five trim levels, showing a base price of $55,800 that includes a good level of content like power liftgate in the rear, rain-sensing wipers, power third row seats, heated and cooled 10-way front seats, heated second row seats, HD trailer towing package, SYNC AppleLink, voice-activated navigation. With the optional Rapid Spec (navigation, power moonroof and power running boards - $2,700), the $490 blind spot detection, the 22-inch polished aluminum wheels shod with 285/45 R22 Pirelli Scorpions ($2,100) and a steep $1,195 destination charge, we’re looking at a bottom line of $61,815. The basic, unadorned Expedition XLT starts at about $44,500 and top-of-the-line Platinum Editions comes in at $62,000 without options. An extra-long (EL) version of each trim level is available as well if you need extra cargo space.

Properly equipped the 3-ton Navigator is able to tow over 9,200 pounds and has a GCVR of over 12,000 pounds.

Ford’s new vehicle warranty covers the Expedition for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Fortunately, we can still choose a big, luxurious SUV if we like whether we have a big family, a big boat or neither. With each new generation of these trucks we get more efficient powertrains and while our modest fuel mileage does not seem anything to brag about just think what we would expect from a normally aspirated V8 that provides the same level of power. And, with each new generation we also get more standard electronic stuff, infotainment, nicer materials . . . we could go on and on. This is a segment of the market that remains very competitive and very profitable for the manufacturers so they keep offering more and more content.

The new Ford Expedition is one you should check out if you need, or want, something big, comfortable and classy. You’ll probably want to add the running boards unless you are agile as a monkey.

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved