2015 Ford Expedition First Review: Old-School Gets New Life

By Allyson Harwood on July 21, 2014 8:58 AM

The traditional utility segment, full-size body-on-frame SUVs, now represents a small amount of total vehicles sales--about two percent--but people who buy them aren't just there by coincidence. They shop full-size SUVs because of a key attribute: capability. That means room for people and gear, off-road prowess and towing capacity. With the 2015 Expedition, Ford has kept all of the previous model's capabilities, while also improving features and adding a lot more power.

A Major Boost

If you are shopping for an Expedition, you may have noticed that the current 2014 model, both the regular model and the longer wheelbase EL, are powered solely by a 5.4-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. That engine has an EPA-rated fuel economy of 14 mpg city and 20 mpg on the highway for rear-drive model. For 2015, that engine has been replaced by Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, with significantly more power: 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Better yet, this engine, which has been proven tough and reliable under the hood of the F-150 since 2011, gets better fuel economy too. The EPA hasn't announced official numbers yet, but Ford estimates there will be a 15 percent improvement. Bottom line: 55 more horsepower, 55 lb-ft more torque, and fuel economy that could be around 15-16 mpg city and 21-23 mpg on the highway. Those fuel economy numbers aren't stellar compared to a crossover, but the 2015 Ford Expedition does more than the typical crossover.

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The EcoBoost makes the Expedition feel like a smaller vehicle. With the new engine, the Expedition is fast, with excellent throttle response and well-timed shifts from the 6-speed automatic. It doesn't have the same sound as a V-8, but this engine makes the 3-row SUV go from feeling like a slow, steady workhorse to a lively sprinter. And with the new engine, it can still tow 9,200 pounds, carry up to 131 cubic feet of cargo and seat up to eight people. The trailer brake controller and towing package make it easier to tow, while the new truck apps suite gives the driver information about everything from what you're towing to off-road data.

Interior Upgrades

As we saw in the Platinum model we drove--this is the new top-of-the-line trim level for 2015--the interior benefits from this model year makeover. It has a new dash layout, much like that of the Ford F-150. It is now available with MyFord Touch, which works through a generously sized 8-inch touch screen and Sync. Drivers get two different 4.2-inch screens within the new gauge cluster. Its interior color scheme is tasteful, and the seats are comfortable. The Platinum is luxurious like the redesigned King Ranch without the Western theme. Ours had features including second-row seat heaters, power-folding third row, rear-seat entertainment, blind-spot information system and a rear-view camera, plus power running boards. Many of these amenities are also available throughout the Expedition line.

For even more comfort, the 2015 Expedition now has continuously controlled damping, which has Sport, Normal and Comfort settings. When it comes to ride, the Sport mode firms things up some, but the most noticeable difference is in Comfort, and the differences between all the settings are most apparent in the second and third rows. But with each setting, throttle response and steering change as well, with everything tightening up and responding quicker in Sport.

Competitive Pricing

The full-size SUV has independent rear suspension, which allows the third row to fold flat. It gives the Expedition a lower floor, which makes the rearmost seats comfortable--adults won't mind sitting there on trips, as their knees won't be pushing up against their chins.

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Pricing is competitive with that of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The Expedition starts at $44,585 for the XLT, while the Chevy Tahoe LS has a starting price of $45,595. Move up to the Platinum, and it tops out at about $68,000, while a GMC Yukon Denali can run $80,000. The long-wheelbase Expedition EL starts at $47,295 and the Suburban's starting price is $1,000 more.

While the nose of the Expedition looks different with the addition of a new grille, styling hasn't been changed nearly as much as it has with competitors Chevy Tahoe and Suburban. But Ford has worked on the things that matter most to full-size SUV buyers, namely capability and interior amenities, all while making the Expedition faster and more efficient.

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