By KBB.com Editors
Although Ford's Expedition (and other large, truck-based SUVs) may be in market decline, there remains a need for vehicles with their capabilities. In the 2009 Expedition and extended length Expedition EL, Ford 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 and an external keypad locking/unlocking feature. With gas prices in constant flux, those willing to take a risk 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 2009 Ford Expedition. Virtually every dynamic aspect, except straight-line performance, has been enhanced, as have both active and passive safety features and characteristics.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 Freestyle or Ford Flex crossover SUVs may better suit your needs.What's New for 2009
The Ford Expedition's 5.4-liter V8 is now Flex-Fuel ready, meaning it can run on either E85 or pure gasoline. New standard equipment on all Expeditions includes heated second-row seats, rain-sensing wipers and an anti-theft perimeter alarm system.Driving It Driving Impressions
With the enhancements made to structure, suspension, steering and braking, the 2009 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 upgraded materials. Additionally, seat-track travel for the driver's side can accommodate people from 4'11" to 6'4" tall. In the Eddie Bauer package, driver and passengers will enjoy tone-on-tone leather, attractive and legible instrumentation, a stylish center stack on the instrument panel and cup holders galore. 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 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 $45,000 price point.Exterior
The 2009 Ford Expedition carries over with only minor exterior changes after undergoing a complete makeover last year. While retaining the same basic architecture as the 2006 model, the newest Expedition's modifications are immediately recognizable. The most prominent alteration is the 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, new headlamps and large wheel "lips." Finally, 20-inch rims are optionally available from the factory, so there's no need to seek out the aftermarket variety.Notable Standard Equipment
Last year's redesigned front and rear suspensions, improved steering feel and bigger brakes help enhance improvements to the frame's structure. 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. Occupant protection is enhanced with seat-mounted front-side air bags 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 300-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. In combination with an also-optional power liftgate, the departure from the mall or hardware store needn't be so arduous. The independent rear suspension makes the flat-folding third row possible, because it takes up less space under the vehicle, and PowerFold and a powered liftgate make it convenient. Stand-alone options include a rear backup camera, DVD navigation with SIRIUS Travel Link, the SYNC audio 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, GMC and Dodge. The V8's 310 horsepower and 365 lb.-ft. 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), GM's 6.0-liter V8 and Dodge's 5.7-liter HEMI V8. The rumored release of a light-duty diesel within a couple of years might help, but not for a while.
5.4 liter V8
310 horsepower at 5100 rpm
365 lb.-ft. of torque at 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (gasoline, 2WD). 10/14 (E85, 2WD), N/A (4WD)
The Manufacturer's Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) for the two-wheel-drive 2009 Ford Expedition XLT begins around $35,000 and can climb as high as $55,500 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 (XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch) trims. The very high-end Eddie Bauer includes 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 price, which shows what others in your area are paying for their new vehicles. As for resale, Expedition owners can expect to see values slightly lower than the Chevrolet Suburban and Nissan Armada, and well below the Toyota Sequoia.