As you’ve probably noticed, Ford builds an abundance of well-regarded cars and the country’s best-selling (and most innovative) truck. And it also builds an absolute truckload of buzz, especially in the last twelve months. As you might expect, there’s much more to the Ford story than simply its iconic Mustang and an alloy-bodied truck. One of those stories – the longest story – is the highly evolved Expedition, aggressively updated (at least mechanically) for the ’15 model year.
Of course, some are surprised Ford remains in the body-on-frame, full-size SUV business, as the shrinking sales segment is fairly overwhelmed by GM’s Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon. Even Chrysler is making a credible run with the Dodge Durango, although its unibody roots are shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Not only does Ford remain in the mix…its new Expedition may be Ford’s most compelling offer, ever.
Walk into a Ford showroom, ask the sales rep what’s new in or on the Expedition, and if the rep knows what he’s doing he’ll head right for the hood release. There, for all the world to see, is Ford’s first application of the EcoBoost V6 in its plus-size Expedition. As the only available powerplant in the Expedition and stretched Expedition EL, Ford takes an ancient platform and injects it with a dose of 21st century chutzpah; rather like putting Lady Gaga’s brain in Lady Godiva’s body.
The EcoBoost (Eco – we think – is for ‘eco’, while ‘Boost’ is self-explanatory…right?) V6 displaces the same 3.5 liters as that found in the F-150, delivering 365 horsepower at a relatively modest 5,000 rpm, along with 420 lb-ft of ya’gotta-love-it-torque at just 2,500 rpm. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why God created gasoline. Even with the EL’s three tons of mass and metal to move, the V6 and its 6-speed auto don’t flinch. Instead, they pull with confidence, can tow up to 9.000 pounds and defy high altitudes (OK, keep it under 30,000 feet) with the boosted performance. And while not as efficient in real world driving as owners might have hoped, there’s no argument (here) with an EPA estimate of 14 City/20 Highway for the 4X4 EL. While our long (pun intended) weekend didn’t allow for a tank refill, the ‘City’ estimate is a good indicator of what consumers should expect in a combination of stop-and-go and freeway driving. And that’s comparable to what we get from an ’06 Grand Cherokee, despite the Jeep having but one-half of the interior or load volume.
Beyond the EcoBoost V6, the 2015 Expedition receives a nip here and tuck there. Its independent rear suspension is no longer unique in the category (Dodge Durango and the Mercedes GL, to name two, both feature I.R.S.), and while it may contribute to a composed and comfortable ride, the overall ride/handling balance is, again, more Godiva than Gaga. We enjoy big SUVs that don’t feel big; the ’15 Expedition EL feels huge.
Inside, leather seating supplies a comfortable perch for up to eight, while dash and door plastics aren’t far removed from the last-gen F-Series. There’s nothing wrong here, if an Expedition prospect likes hard plastics with an overdose of grain. We prefer our plastics soft and graining subtle. For that, as of now, you might opt for Lincoln’s MKC, and simply rent an Expedition when you need to tow something or go somewhere. But the Lincoln will be hard-pressed to get a Jet Ski out of the water, whereas the Expedition can haul both the big boat and the money it takes to buy it.
At an as-tested price of $67,000, our Platinum EL 4X4 was comprehensively equipped. And while we know America is in love with its fully-optioned transport, we ‘built’ an XLT EL 4X4 online, comfortably equipped, for around $55K. If you figure, with incentives, you could grab the XLT for about $50K (plus fees), that is a crazy amount of versatility for not much more of a premium than commanded by nicely-optioned Explorers.
Explorers, of course, will explore, but we’re feeling like an Expedition. And if we’re doing 6,000 pounds we might as well go ‘EL’ and get twelve more inches of wheelbase, the benefit of three rows and some 40 cubic feet of load capacity behind the third seat. But we’d probably wait ‘til we can go gaga over the whole truck – and not just what’s under the hood.
2015 Ford Expedition EL Platinum 4X4, price and key specifications as tested
Body style/layout: 4-door full-size SUV, front engine/4WD
Base price: $63,640 plus 22-inch polished aluminum wheels ($2180) and$1195 destination
Price as tested: $67,015 with destination
* Type: 3.5 liter DOHC turbocharged V6
* Compression ratio: 10.0:1
* Horsepower: 365 @ 5000 rpm
* Torque: 420 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
* Recommended fuel: unleaded
* Fuel capacity: 33.5 gallons
* Fuel economy, EPA est.: 16/22 city/highway
* Fuel economy, observed: N/A
Transmission: 6-speed Selectshift automatic
* Suspension, front/rear: Double wishbone/Independent multi-link
* Wheels: 22-inch polished aluminum
* Tires: 285/45R22
* Brakes: 4-wheel disc
* Steering: Rack-and-Pinion Electric Power Assist
* Turning circle: See ‘Queen Mary’
* Wheelbase: 131.0 inches
* Length: 220.8 inches
* Height: 77.7 inches
* Width: 78,8 inches (excluding mirrors)
* Curb Weight: 6,103 lbs.
* Cargo Volume: 131 cubic feet behind 1st row, 85 cubic feet behind 2nd row, and 42.6 cubic feet behind 3rd row
* Towing Capability: 9,100 lbs.
* Airbags: Driver’s and Front Passenger’s Dual-Stage Airbags, Driver’s and Front Passenger’s Side Airbags, Side Curtain Airbags
* Anti-lock brakes: Yes Traction control: Yes Stability control: Yes
* Other: Front seatbelt pretensioners and LATCH child seat attachment
Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-bumper warranty, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain limited warranty (transferable) and 5-year/60,000 mile Roadside Assistance