Ford’s massive family-hauler SUV returns for 2019 after having been refreshed last year. The test subject here is the Expedition Limited with the Stealth Edition Package and is quite the eye-catcher in terms of looks and sheer size. It was perfect for family transportation duty and the five kids my girlfriend and I have between us had no issues fitting comfortably inside.
Ford offer’s a “Max” version of the Expedition that extends the wheelbase by 12 inches for even more space but this test vehicle was the standard version. It’s a real body-on-frame SUV as opposed to a crossover which has a unibody construction.
The exterior of the Expedition is quite lovely and Ford has a knack for differentiating the various editions with different grills and trimmings. As I mentioned, this vehicle was equipped with the Stealth Edition Package as part of the $7500 303A equipment group. The Stealth portion is strictly for appearance and includes 22-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, a five-bar gloss black grille, gloss black power-deployable running boards, a rear bumper skid plate, Expedition lettering on the hood, unique red interior stitching and LED headlights, taillights and fog lights with black housing.
Under the hood we find the same 3.5-litre Ecoboost twin-turbo V6 as in the F-150 but tuned differently. XLT and Limited trims get 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque while the Platinum version gets 400 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. or torque. I do enjoy the smoothness of this motor and having enough power was never in question. The Expedition is the perfect road trip machine which cruises effortlessly and quietly at highway speed. The sheer size takes some getting used to both in terms of driving (braking distance, turning circle etc) as well as space considerations in suburban parking lots. But all in all, I found that the vehicle handles exceptionally well for its size. You can get close to 12 L/100 km fuel consumption combined city-highway (maybe a bit more highway) which I also find to be excellent for a full-size SUV.
The interior will be familiar to F-150 owners as it is basically a copy of the first two rows with a third row added in. Access to the third row is quick and easy by way of a handle on the side of the second-row chair. Ford’s layout is efficient and ergonomic with everything functioning well. I’d make the climate controls a little larger and maybe use a dial instead of the buttons but it’s not too big of a deal.
The design of the rear seat entertainment system has quite a few usability issues. In fact, it’s very hard to use, especially on short trips to the daycare or school which is what the majority of parents will be doing. The DVD slot is located on top of the screen behind the driver’s head and the system can only be controlled by the rear occupants via remote or touchscreen. This is a big stumbling block because what if your kids are all under the age of 5 or don’t know how to read yet? It forces the driver (or passenger) to get into the rear of the vehicle each time you want to start it.
The system is connected to the car’s audio system via Bluetooth. That means if you want to hear the sound you need to pair it with the car as you would your phone which requires a few minutes of setup. This needs to be done each time you turn on the vehicle. If you plug in your cell phone to charger, however, the system disconnects the DVD because it thinks you want to use the USB input now. I basically had to turn my phone’s Bluetooth off so it wouldn’t automatically connect (even though I had set the DVD player as the favorite) and forgo charging the phone in order to hear the DVD.
Every time you shut the vehicle off, the DVD system must be turned back on from the rear. If you need to put gas, stop at a convenience store or just do short trip to school and back it becomes very time consuming. You’ll need to turn both screens on individually, set the system to DVD then have a person in the front select the appropriate Bluetooth input. On several occasions the sound wasn’t in sync with the movie or the Bluetooth simply wouldn’t connect at all. Overall, I have to say it was an overall incredibly frustrating experience.
Aside from the infotainment system I quite enjoyed cruising around in the comfort of the Expedition. Whether you are a large family, own a taxi service or just simply enjoy large SUVs, this full-size example sets the bar very high. You can get into a base model XLT starting at $56,028 with the current employee pricing deals however the Limited test vehicle was optioned out to $85,805 before transport or other pricing incentives.
It’s clear that Ford’s rein as a North America’s number one truck seller is paying dividends in other areas. I’ve driven a lot of other large SUVs but the Expedition is definitely one of the best ones and a must-consider in this category.