By KBB.com Editors
Although the Ford Expedition (and other large, truck-based SUVs) may be in market decline, there remains a need for vehicles with their capabilities. In the 2011 Ford Expedition and extended-length Expedition EL, the automaker hopes to meet or exceed that need. Against rivals from Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota and GMC, the Expedition stacks up well, offering innovative features like a power flush-folding third-row seat, the SYNC audio system and an external keypad locking/unlocking feature. With the auto industry slowly recovering, those willing to take a risk that fuel prices won't spike again may find now is the best time to make a great deal.You'll Like This Car If...
If you have a big family, boat or trailer, you'll revel in the space and versatility provided by the 2011 Ford Expedition. Virtually every dynamic aspect, from styling to creature comforts to technology and passenger safety, is the best we've seen in the Expedition to date.You May Not Like This Car If...
If a vehicle weighing in excess of 5,500 pounds absolutely disgusts you, look at something else. If you're carrying only passengers, the more fuel-efficient Ford Flex crossover SUV may better suit your needs.What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Ford Expedition adds HD Radio and SIRIUS Travel Link to the optional navigation package.Driving It Driving Impressions
With the recently updated enhancements made to structure, suspension, steering and braking, the 2011 Ford Expedition is far removed from its truck-derived predecessors. Despite the tall seating position, the driving impression feels connected to the road, helped in no small part by steering with a good degree of precision. Over-the-road comfort is good and the handling feels balanced. While we weren't overwhelmed by the 5.4-liter V8's acceleration while towing, the Expedition seemed fully up to the task.Favorite Features
The EL's 12-inch longer wheelbase and nearly 15 inches of additional length provide a huge improvement in capacity with little increase in cost or reduction in fuel efficiency. Sure, your garage may not accommodate the extra length, but that's a small price to pay if you're actually intending to use your full-size SUV.
Keyless Entry Keypad
No more worrying about where to hide your keyfob; with the keyless keypad entry system you can simply lock your keys and other items safely inside the vehicle. A preset combination entered via the door-mounted keypad unlocks the doors.
The Expedition's seats offer excellent support, with improved contours, big side bolsters (we'd still hope for a little more lateral support), soft cushions and, on Limited and King Ranch models, upgraded materials. Additionally, seat-track travel for the driver's side can accommodate people from 4'11" to 6'4" tall. In the Limited and King Ranch trims, driver and passengers will enjoy plush leather seating surfaces, cup holders galore, attractive and legible instrumentation and a stylish center stack and instrument panel. Access to the third row is relatively easy and the seating is reasonably comfortable, even for adults. Opt for the EL variant and you'll enjoy both a larger third row and lots of storage space behind it. Finally, some of the plastic textures, though not cheap, do not seem to quite match the expectations of a $40,000-plus price point.Exterior
The Expedition's big, boxy exterior is handsomely adorned in chrome, color-keyed trim and a lot of glass. Its tall ride height requires side running boards to make entry and exit easier, not to mention graceful. That same height, however, can make it difficult to move and secure items to the roof rack. A single piece rear hatch can be ordered with a power lift feature. The 2011 Expedition's most prominent feature is its recently acquired nose job, where Ford's now-signature four-bar grille sits front and center. What Ford describes as "crisply-defined surfaces and chiseled good looks" certainly remain, though augmented by the raised "powerdome" hood, unique headlamps and large wheel "lips." Finally, 20-inch rims are available as factory options, so there's no need to seek out the aftermarket variety.Notable Standard Equipment
The AdvanceTrac stability control system with Roll Stability Control modulates braking and engine power to help maintain driver control in marginal conditions, particularly those involving slippery surfaces. Trailer Sway Control and the MyKey programmable key system –which allows parents to limit vehicle speed and audio volume, among other things – are also standard. Occupant protection is enhanced with seat-mounted front-side airbags and a three-row "safety canopy." Other standard features include keyless keypad entry, six-way power front seats, sliding center-section second-row seat, heated seats, rain-sensing wipers and a 310-horsepower V8 engine.Notable Optional Equipment
Expedition buyers can choose an optional PowerFold third-row seat that folds flat with the touch of a button. An optional power liftgate is also available. Stand-alone options include a rear backup camera, DVD navigation with SIRIUS Travel Link, the voice-activated SYNC communications and entertainment system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, auto-leveling rear air suspension and a 340-watt audio system.Under the Hood
While the 5.4-liter V8 is certainly adequate, Ford's one offering is overwhelmed by the multitude of choices available from Chevrolet and GMC. The V8's 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque are well-matched to the chassis, and that power is enhanced by a six-speed automatic, but the package falls short of GM's 5.3-liter V8 (at least in horsepower) or GM's 6.0-liter V8.
310 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
365 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (gasoline, 2WD), 9/13 (E85, 2WD), 12/17 (gasoline, 4WD), 13/18 (E85, 4WD)
The Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) for the two-wheel-drive 2011 Ford Expedition XL begins just over $36,000 and can climb as high as $57,000 for a fully-loaded four-wheel-drive King Ranch model. The EL extended-length version adds about $3,000 to the bottom line of each of the four (XL, XLT, Limited and King Ranch) trims. The very high-end Limited and King Ranch trims include interior appointments and exterior enhancements fully competitive with entrants from both Lincoln and GMC. Before you set out to purchase your new Expedition, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others in your area are paying for their new vehicles. As for resale, Expedition owners can expect to see values similar to the Chevy Suburban and Nissan Armada, but well below the Toyota Sequoia.