[REVIEW] 2019 Ford Expedition Limited

It’s a mini bus, it’s an off-roader, it’s a mega-hauler. It’s the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition.

The Expedition has been redesigned from the ground-up for 2018. Based on the best selling vehicle in North America, the Ford F-150 pick-up truck, the Expedition now shares its latest platform as well as the adoption of aluminium bodywork.

Despite the Expedition being larger than before with its increased technology, luxury, safety equipment, and passenger space, it’s also lighter and more capable. How much lighter? By as much as 300 pounds.

What’s new?

Aside from the aforementioned major platform change and the substantial dieting thanks to the shift to aluminium, the Expedition’s game remains the same.

Before the 2018 model year, the vehicle had soldiered on with a few updates since the second-generation SUV was introduced back in 2003. But now after 15 years, this all-new model moves the class forward significantly.

The Expedition’s similarities with the F-150 don’t just stop at its platform. Inside, you’ll notice that the dash and cabin design both bear a strong resemblance.

The big, blocky glove-friendly HVAC vents, the chunky steering wheel, and the Ford Sync3 infotainment system are all carried over. The Expedition also borrows the tiered double-compartment glovebox from the Ford Super Duty pick-up.

Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system features a large capacitive touchscreen with smartphone-like swipe capabilities, and the system now supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Overall, the interface is easy-to-use and navigate. One of the best around.

One big difference between the F-150 and the Expedition is that the latter comes with a rotary knob gear selector, a la Jaguar or Land Rovers, instead of a traditional centre console gearshift lever or a column mounted shifter.

The dial is fine in most situations, but shifting through the gears manually, such as when using engine braking down an decline, may require looking down to see the plus and minus buttons.

How does it drive?

The only engine available in the Expedition is the 3.5 litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. This second-generation engine now produces 375 hp at 5,000 rpms and 470 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. This represents an increase of 10 hp and 50 lb-ft of torque compared to the previous Expedition with its Gen 1 Ecoboost 3.5 engine.

In addition to the revised engine, there is also a new 10-speed automatic gearbox jointly developed by Ford and GM.

In regular drive mode, the transmission has a tendency to want to upshift into a higher gear as soon as possible, presumably to reduce fuel consumption as much as possible. Throttle response is sharp, and the whole powertrain combination is well sorted with the Ecoboost developing bucket loads of torque through the rev range.

The Expedition, like the F-150, is now also equipped with a start/stop system to further save you at the pump.

For a vehicle weighing more than 5,700 pounds, the Expedition is able to complete the 0-100 km/hr run in just over 6 seconds. It’s truly astounding to watch, much like a hippopotamus taking a quick sprint.

The engine is very quiet when cruising and has a slight turbo whistle upon hard acceleration much to my delight.

Although customers won’t be buying the a full-sized SUV for its handling, the Expedition feels surprisingly at home on a twisty road. There is very surprisingly little body roll for such a big vehicle and body control motions are extremely well controlled.

It’s actually a hoot to drive such a big vehicle with its prodigious amounts of power and more than competent handling to match.

The well-tuned suspension is not just impressive on the tarmac but also if you choose to venture off the beaten path. It soaks up most bumps and ruts as if they were almost not there at all.

As far as safety equipment, you will find all the latest passive and active systems that Ford has to offer. From front and rear LED lighting, automatic high beams, collision mitigation, to radar-guided cruise control with lane keeping assist, the large Ford has it all.

What people do buy full-sized SUVs for is their towing capacity.  Here, Ford doesn’t disappoint. The Expedition 4X4 has a max towing capacity of 9,200 pounds when equipped with the optional Heavy Duty Trailer Tow package, like my test vehicle, it includes an integrated trailer brake controller as well as Ford’s excellent Trailer Assist system.

This system deserves special mention as it amazingly combines the pin-sharp rear view camera, electric power steering system, and the self-park system.

For those who have little experience backing up with a trailer, Trailer Assist automatically countersteers the trailer for you when reversing, meaning that you simply control the brakes and throttle and let it work its magic by watching the infotainment screen. It’s almost a hands-free operation aside from twisting the dash mounted rotary knob.

Passenger Comfort, and lots of it

The Expedition’s front seats are probably the most comfortable in class. Well-padded with a multitude of controls, they were one of the best car seats I’ve experienced this year. Both front occupants have an almost ridiculous amount of armrest space thanks to the large centre console’s padded storage lid.

There are plenty of cubbies, binnacles, and storage areas throughout. Sure, there are some plastics that are a bit more work truck quality than luxury vehicle (such as in the lower portion of the centre console and door panels) but overall it’s a very nice place to be indeed.

Customers also look to buy these massive vehicles for the space behind the front seats, and that’s another area that the Expedition continues to shine. There is amazing second row space, with seats that not only tilt back but recline.

The third row is just as impressive, offering space that is more than liveable even for adults. Thanks to the independent rear suspension system, unlike the Chevy Tahoe’s rear live axle, third row passengers’ legs rest at almost a near 90-degree angle rather than in their chests.

Ford’s engineers have also designed a very simple system that tilts and tumbles the second row seats for easy access to the rearmost seats. It’s so simple and intuitive that even kids can do it.

Just so second and third row passengers don’t feel left out, there are separate rear HVAC controls as well. Long rides are made more tolerable with the power reclining seatbacks, USB ports on either side, and plenty of storage space.

My Limited-trim Expedition even came equipped with the optional Rear Entertainment System, featuring screens behind the front seat headrests and wireless headphones.

This system not only supports HDMI playback such as from a DVD player or game console, but even supports some smartphone connectivity. You can have your kids silently entertained for literally hours on end!

Final Thoughts

With the Expedition’s full redesign for 2018, Ford’s biggest SUV brings all-new aluminium-bodied construction, a boldly updated exterior design, and much improved interior quality and materials.

Its twin-turbocharged V6 engine delivers swift acceleration and enough power for nearly any situation, and the vehicle boasts a best-in-class towing capacity. It also rides smoothly, has good handling for a large SUV, and can tackle most off-road challenges that its owners are likely to put it through, despite its large size.

Thanks to the redesign, there is also a high-quality cabin with a ton of room for either people or cargo. Even the third-row seat is easy to access and it has ample space for adult passengers.

The Expedition’s blend of performance, comfort, utility, and tech easily make it the new benchmark for the full-size SUV class.

For those who want a little more luxury and have more disposable income, check out the Expedition’s related cousin, the (also newly) re-designed Lincoln Navigator.


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