First Drive Review: 2015 Ford Expedition, keeping it simple

The 2015 Ford Expedition (Ford)

The 2015 Ford Expedition (Ford)

There was a time in America when the big three automakers had devoted legions of fans all rallying around their companies flags. The Bowtie folks, the Mopar crowd and the Blue Oval bunch were all fiercely devoted to their brand, not unlike soccer fans are today minus the hooliganism.  There was also a time in America when the fans of each of those brands had something to crow about, and for the other side to find fault with.  Each of the big three automakers had forgettable cars, quality control issues and reasons for Americans to find cars that came from outside the borders of the good old US of A.

Times have changed however. Today the big three automakers are back; all have good vehicles to offer, much better quality control and a whole new way of doing business.  They are leaner, better run and as a result more Americans are buying cars built in the land that goes from Sea to shining Sea.

For the older generation however, the remnants of the past can still be seen, but not in a bad way.  Take Ford for example. Recently we’ve had the opportunity to spend a week with several Ford vehicles and we liked them all. Each was nice in its own way, yet they all had the look and feel, at least on the interior, of the Ford’s we grew up with.

The latest Ford we spent the week with is no exception.  The 2015 Expedition is a big, big vehicle. Yet, inside it still has the plain look and feel of the Ford. There’s nothing fancy like say the Infiniti QX80 whose interior is designed to look and feel like the inside of a Lear jet, and in fact does.  No, the inside of the Expedition, like most Fords, is plain, with no fancy knobs or stitched supple Italian leather or wood grain accents, or shiny bling. The interior of the Expedition looks and feels like what it is; a nice Ford product.

But we digress.

Ford introduced the Expedition in 1996 as a 1997 model as a replacement for the Bronco. Today it is one the largest SUVs on the road with, some would say, a look that could date all the way back to 1997.  To be fair the 2015 did get a bit of a facelift front and rear, but the biggest change of all comes under the hood as the big V8 has been replaced by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 Ecoboost delivering 365 horses and 420 lb-ft of torque.

There are two basic models, the Expedition and Expedition EL or extra long that adds 15 inches overall. Both models have four trim levels: XLT, Limited, King Ranch and the new Platinum trim (there is an XL models but those are only sold to fleet customers).  Each Expedition comes standard with seating for eight passengers, with optional second-row captain’s chairs that reduce the seating to seven.

There are a ton of standard features in the base XLT like foglights, a roof rack, rear parking sensors, cruise control, rearview camera and keyless entry along with a 4.2-inch center display; moving up to the Limited trim adds such niceties as front parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, automatic wipers and heated second-row seats .  You also get a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), the MyFord Touch interface with an 8-inch touchscreen and an upgraded 12-speaker Sony audio system with satellite radio.

Don your cowboy hat for the King Ranch Edition which is equipped similarly to the Limited, but has special two-tone paint, special exterior Western styling details, a blind-spot monitoring system, premium leather upholstery and wood grain interior trim. The Platinum, which is the model we had for the week is similarly equipped to the King Ranch, but it loses the Western theme, the wood trim and gets a sunroof as standard. We also had the package that adds retractable running boards and a navigation system with HD radio. The MyFord Touch infotainment interface we had is also one of the better ones on the market, easy to learn and easy to control. The retractable running boards are automatic by the way and take a bit of getting use to as they pop out when you unlock the vehicle from the outside or open the door from the inside. There was a bit of fun as we tried to open the door from the inside and not have the running boards out and ready; they respond quickly, out when the door is open, in when it’s closed, out when the door is opened…anyway moving on.

Let no one ever say that the Expedition is anything but large.  We had the Extra Long version making the already big vehicle even bigger. For some reason however, it wasn’t overpowering like the QX80 or the Chevy Suburban; it was more like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It even fooled us into thinking that we could actually park in between two cars in a normal parking lot. We could, but it in order to allow our fellow motorists to actually be able to open their doors, we didn’t.   Even though it seemed smaller than it was, our EL had an incredible 130 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.

On the road the 3.5-liter Ecoboost delivers adequate power with the six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability responding nicely. Like any of the big SUVs, the view is commanding and the ride smooth.  That smooth ride is thanks in large part to a continuously controlled damping suspension and three selectable drive modes – comfort, normal and sport. And when properly equipped, the Expedition has a maximum tow rating of 9,200 pounds so just about anything you want to haul or tow will be no problem.

The Ford Expedition may not ooze luxury or have the interior of a Lear jet; It might not have the shiny bling of a rap star, but at the end of our week we could smile knowing that it is overall a very good SUV.  The design may look a little dated, yet at least in our opinion, is still relevant.  Those who still wave the Blue Oval flag have a Ford that looks like a Ford and for others looking for an SUV that can do it all quietly and without a lot of flash, the Expedition may be just be a reason for them to hoist their own flag.

The 2015 Ford Expedition EL Platinum 4X4

MSRP: $ 63,640
MSRP (as tested with 22-inch polished aluminum wheels): $ 67,015
Engine: 3.5 liter turbocharged V6 Ecoboost 365 hp @ 5000 rpm  420 ft-lbs.  torque @ 2250 rpm
Transmission:  6-speed Shiftable Automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA Rated): 15 city, 21 hwy, 17 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 20 mpg

Exterior Measurements
Width: 6 Ft. 6.8 In. (78.8 In.)
Height: 6 Ft. 5.7 In. (77.7 In.)
Length: 18 Ft. 4.8 In. (220.8 In.)
Ground Clearance: 0 Ft. 8.3 In. (8.3 In.)
Wheel Base: 10 Ft. 11 In. (131 In.)

Interior Measurements
Front Head Room: 39.5 In.
Front Hip Room: 59.3 In.
Front Leg Room: 43.0 In.
Front Shoulder Room: 63.2 In.
Rear Hip Room: 59.9 In.
Rear Head Room: 39.7 In.
Rear Leg Room: 39.1 In.
Rear Shoulder Room: 63.7 In.

Maximum Towing Capacity (When adequately equipped): 9200 Lbs.
EPA Interior Volume: 210.9 Cu.Ft.
Curb Weight: 5897 Lbs.

Basic: 3 Yr./ 36000 Mi.
Drivetrain: 5 Yr./ 60000 Mi.
Roadside :5 Yr./ 60000 Mi.

Greg Engle