2018 Ford Expedition First Review
Starting price: $52,890 | Price yours
Max capacity: 8 passengers
Engine: 3.5-liter turbo V6, 375 horsepower
Fuel economy: 20 mpg combined (2WD)
Max towing: 9,300 lbs
Similar: Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon
It's hard to undersell how good the 2018 Ford Expedition is in its full-size SUV class. It's the newest entry in the segment, and so it should be better. But it's even better than that, thanks to a series of innovations, upgrades, new materials, and an improved engine that put the new Ford Expedition solidly at the head of its class, with even the sales-leading Chevrolet Tahoe eating its dust.
Like the Ford F-150 from a couple years ago, the new Expedition makes extensive use of aluminum in its body structure. Basically, anything you can see is made of the stuff -- the frame and other components are still steel -- but the weight savings has a cascade effect on the rest of the truck. The twin-turbo V6 has no problem hauling it around while still delivering excellent fuel economy (for the class), and the Expedition feels lighter on its feet than ever before. There's still tons of passenger space, and a huge cargo area if you opt for the Expedition Max, which replaces the Expedition EL.
It's not flawless, of course. The Expedition, like all full-size SUVs, is still a hassle to park, a climb for shorter drivers, and the standard model offers less cargo space behind the third row than the Ford Explorer. It's also not cheap, with a starting price of nearly $53,000 climbing all the way to nearly $80,000 for a Platinum Max model. Still, there's something to be said for the sheer brashness and do-anything utility of a full-size SUV, and when it comes to those duties, the Expedition is without equal.
Ford had a choice when designing the 2018 Expedition: Make it look like the F-150 on which it's based, or make it look more like the company's SUV family. It wisely chose the latter, and the Expedition is now firmly in the same styling wheelhouse as the Ford Explorer, Ford Edge, and Ford Flex. The similarities are most apparent at the front, where the grille and headlights blend into a single unit as they do on the smaller SUVs, with a similar chrome mesh treatment on higher-end Platinum models. A chrome band serves as a soft echo to the "caliper" design now on the Ford F-150, as if the size wasn't enough to remind viewers of the common DNA between the two. The rear end also blends SUV and truck styling, with the general taillight shape and position resembling the Expedition and others, but with enough F-150 to keep that vehicle in mind as well.
Of course, back up to take it all in and you're left with a refinement of the same big box shape the Expedition has always reveled in. It's better proportioned than before, but make no mistake: There are few vehicles which cast a larger shadow than this Ford. It's bigger than the Chevy Tahoe in nearly every dimension, and the Expedition Max is only one inch shorter than the Chevy Suburban, outpacing it in every other measurement. But the Expedition wears its size with pride, impervious to your fat-shaming.
All that exterior bulk translates to a cavernous interior with a style that literally pulls a lot of its design from the Ford Super Duty trucks. The dash and door panels will be immediately familiar to anyone who has driven an F-250 lately, but they'll also appreciate the nicer materials, stitched dash cover, and upscale switchgear used in the Expedition. In fact, this is the kind of interior style that the Lincoln Navigator used to aspire to, but never quite managed. The chrome knobs for climate control, drive selection, and even audio system volume all feel first-rate, and the general feeling of luxury translates to the middle and third rows, too.
While the 2018 Ford Expedition will likely prove popular with families, this is not a big-city kind of vehicle. Its enormous width, height, and girth make it a hassle in the tight streets and narrow parking spots of urban or suburban streets and malls. At just over 6 feet tall, it'll fit in most parking structures, but you're going to be nervous the entire time. As for your personal garage, we suggest measuring your door height before taking the Expedition plunge.
It's a bummer, because the Expedition is overall a nice place to spend time. The suspension -- independent in the rear, unlike its GM rivals -- helps squash bumps nicely, with only a hint of the inescapable body-on-frame judder one gets in a vehicle like this. The steering is exactly quick enough to make the Expedition feel maneuverable, but not so quick that it feels nervous on the highway. With respectable sightlines for a vehicle of this size, and with the help of blind spot warning, a backup camera, and an available 360-degree camera system, you can at least see with exceptional clarity that you aren't going to fit between that poorly parked Prius and BMW X5. There's also an available parking assist that will do much of the work of parallel parking for you, and it's decent at its job once you get over the trust issues associated with your car taking over driving duties and parking itself.
The Expedition hits its stride on the open road, especially in the Platinum trim, with its nicer interior materials and upscale features. We recommend the full suite of active safety and driver assist technology, especially for long road trips. The active cruise control works to a full stop, and the lane keeping assist strikes a good balance between nudging you into place and not getting in your way; if it's still in the way, the "off" switch is prominently placed above the infotainment screen.
Under the hood resides Ford's excellent EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6. In the 2018 Expedition the engine mates to an equally impressive 10-speed automatic with a telepathic sense of what gear it should be in. If you like, you can awkwardly choose your own gear using buttons below the knob-based gear selector on the center console, but aside from using it to verify its operation, we left it alone. The engine's 375 horsepower (400 hp in Platinum models) offers plenty of juice to move this big SUV around traffic, and acceleration from a dead stop to highway speeds is about as thrilling as you're going to reasonably get from a full-size SUV. Ford even promises good fuel economy, with combined ratings ranging from 20 mpg for a rear-drive Expedition to 18 mpg for a four-wheel-drive Expedition Max. That's not bad for such a big vehicle, and in our testing it proved to be a real-world number.
Towing and Off-Road
Being a big body-on-frame SUV, the 2018 Expedition offers truck-like towing and off-road capabilities. With a maximum tow rating of 9,300 pounds, the Expedition can make short work of just about any towing duties you could throw at it short of a dedicated fifth-wheel trailer. But the Expedition goes beyond sheer grunt in its towing capabilities, using the same advanced trailering technology currently in the F-150. That includes Ford's Trailer Backup control, which uses a knob on the dash to help steer the truck when backing up a trailer. The system requires you to put in the dimensions of the trailer and a few other variables, but saves the information as well so it's a 10-minute procedure you'll do once. With the system on and the vehicle in reverse, it de-complicates the procedure significantly, to the point where even a noob like myself was able to perfectly back a trailer between cones without squashing one. In the actual towing part, the Expedition made towing a 6,000-pound Airstream trailer simple, happily hauling it up the hills of Malibu with little complaint. Another cool feature: With the trailer's dimensions programmed in, the blind-spot warning system is also recalibrated to extend past the end of the trailer.
There's an off-road package available for the Expedition and Expedition Max, but only on the XLT trim; luxury-minded off-roaders will have to find another way. The package adds a two-way transfer case, skid plates, and knobby tires, and the system proved surprisingly good off road with the Terrain Management System knob dialed to the "mud and rut" setting. If medium-duty off-road activity is on your playtime list, the new Expedition can have you covered, if you're willing to sacrifice some of the nicey-nice stuff you get in the Limited and Platinum models.
Driver and front passenger alike will find themselves comfortable and content in the new Expedition. Our Platinum-level test car benefited from heated and cooled leather seats, but even on XLT models you get the same basic shape and comfort, just without the fancy stuff. They're wide and comfortable, with enough adjustments to help you quickly find a comfortable spot, and memory to help you keep it. There's a ton of storage, and not just in the enormous center console bin. Twin cupholders, ample door bins, and a bin ahead of the gear selector make putting your stuff away and out of sight quick and easy. The last of those is where you'll find your USB inputs and wireless charging pad.
The gear selector is a knob you twist from P through RND, with an M button on the top if you want to shift manually using the fiddly buttons below the knob. The rest of the ergonomics are typical Ford, which is good, with easy-to-understand controls for the audio system, cruise control, climate control, and so on.
The second-row bench on the Expedition has a couple neat tricks for families. The center section slides way forward and offers its own LATCH point, giving parents easy access to a booster or infant seat parked there. The outboard positions feature a tilt-and-slide mechanism that allows third-row access without removing a mounted child seat. The bench itself is wide and comfortable, with independent fore-aft and seatback adjustments for all three positions. Put another way: The Expedition's second row mops the floor with the Tahoe's seats.
If you frequently use your third row, the Expedition is the full-size SUV to get. Beyond just numerically good room, the seats are actually comfortable, with good legroom and decent headroom even for adults. That goes even more for the Expedition Max and its expanded rear seat room. The third-row seatbacks even power adjust a bit, making them feel positively luxurious over competitors. There's even a couple of USB ports back there. When you fold the seats using the power fold mechanism, the headrests neatly flop down on their own.
The dirty secret for most full-size SUVs is that cargo space is often a surprising shortcoming, often less than smaller crossover SUVs. However, the Expedition's 20.9 cubic feet of space behind the third row is still bigger than most crossovers, and the Expedition handily beats the Toyota Sequoia (18.9), Nissan Armada (16.6) and especially the Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon twins (15.3). The Chevy Suburban's 39 cu-ft still beats the Expedition Max's 36, but not by much. In addition, the Expedition comes standard with a clever cargo management system, using floor panels that can serve as a barrier, a shelf, or can be used in several other configurations. Of course, you can fold the seats in both Expedition models to expand cargo to Mammoth Cave proportions, in higher end models with the help of power-folding third- and second-row seatbacks.
Infotainment and Tech
The 2018 Ford Expedition comes with the kind of infotainment features that we expect from modern vehicles of any sort. There are multiple USB outlets, for example (although not quite as many as passengers), and the Sync3 system comes augmented with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can order a rear-seat entertainment system with screens embedded in the rear headrests, and of course an upgraded audio system with a fancy name.
But that ignores the specifics. The rear seat entertainment system, for example, not only boasts independent inputs for both screens so you can plug in your own PlayStation for those long road trips, but it also includes SlingPlayer. This allows you to connect to your Slingbox account , which means you can use your Slingbox anywhere your Expedition goes. Good news for TV junkies on the go.
The infotainment system also includes a WiFi hotspot, one that can connect up to 10 different devices up to 50 feet away, so your kids can enjoy a vigorous round of Roblox instead of that boring "making s'mores around the campfire" nonsense. Again, cool stuff, and one that in our opinion obviates the need for a rear-seat entertainment system in the first place.
Beyond infotainment, the Expedition features a full suite of advanced safety systems, including full-speed active cruise control, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, collision avoidance, and so on. Beyond that, Ford has cleverly integrated its trailering system into its safety systems; tow a 30-foot trailer, and your blind-spot warning extends to behind the trailer.
We do wish that some of the various buttons had a less haphazard feel to their placement. The auto start/stop button, stability control, hazard, camera activation and downhill speed control buttons are all grouped above the infotainment screen. It's an arrangement that practically cries out "we didn't know where else to put them." Some of the buttons on the climate control are also on the small and hard-to find side. And we mentioned the all-but-useless manual shift buttons located on the center console. Still, that's pretty nit-picky stuff, and owners will soon acclimate themselves.
The biggest rival to the Expedition has been and continues to be the Chevy Tahoe. Along with the Suburban and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL models, the big GM SUVs account for roughly 70 percent of the entire full-size SUV market. And we get it: They're nice trucks. While the GM twins aren't without their charm, especially for die-hard GM fans, the Expedition outclasses them at every step. The interior trim on the Expedition is at least as good as higher end models of those trucks, and even though GM still has some clever features -- we like the storage bin behind the infotainment screen -- the Expedition is simply better by virtually every measure. The second row seats could be enough to convert a few Chevy buyers, simply because you can slide them back and forth. Then there's the better third row, the better cargo space in the standard model, towing capacity up to 3,000 pounds better, and there's simply no comparison.
Then there are the rest: The Toyota Sequoia, which boasts bulletproof Toyota reliability, and Nissan Armada, which in many ways feels like a cut-price Infiniti QX80. Both are fine vehicles, and both offer lower base and fully-loaded prices than the Expedition (and the Tahoe for that matter), but both also fall short when it comes to features, utility, and performance.
If you read that as saying the Expedition is without equal in its class, you read it right.
2018 Ford Expedition Interior and Exterior Photos
Numbers and Details
The 2018 Ford Expedition comes in three different trim levels, two different drivetrains, and two different lengths, for a total of 12 different types. We break it down by trim below, noting prices for the different drivetrains and lengths. Otherwise the different trim levels are roughly the same. Note that all prices below include the $1,195 destination charge.
$52,890 (2WD), $55,900 (4WD), $55,580 (2WD Max), $58,585 (4WD Max)
Passenger capacity: 8
375-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine
10-speed automatic transmission
Power-folding third-row seat
Rear parking sensors
Cargo management system
Power driver's seat with manual recline
Available FX4 off-road package
Available Sync3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Note: If you're an off-roader, the XLT is the only way to get a low-speed transfer case and the FX4 off-road package. Don't worry, select the FX4 and you automatically add heated and cooled leather seats, blind-spot notifications, and a whole lot of other luxury-minded features.
$63,780 (2WD), $66,900 (4WD), $66,465 (2WD Max), $69,595 (4WD Max)
Sync3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Sync Connect and Wi-Fi hotspot
Hands-free foot-activated liftgate
B&O Play premium audio system
Dual-zone automatic climate control
10-way power driver and passenger seat
Note: The Limited goes head-to-head with the Premier models of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, offering essentially a loaded XLT model, with a few extra features.
$73,905 (2WD), $77,050 (4WD), $76,595 (2WD Max), $79,740 (4WD Max)
400-horsepower twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine
LED fog lights
Note: A starting price deep into the $70,000 range sounds high, but Platinum models are fully loaded, and compete against the similarly priced GMC Yukon and Yukon XL Denali models.
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Rear- or four-wheel drive with available low-range
Horsepower: 375 hp (400 hp Platinum)
Torque: 470 lb-ft (480 lb-ft Platinum)
Fuel Economy, RWD: 17 city, 24 highway; 17 city, 22 highway (Max)
Fuel Economy, AWD: 17 city, 23 highway; 16 city, 21 highway (Max)
Towing Capacity (with heavy duty towing package): 9,300 lb; 9.000 lb (Max)
Curb Weight: 5,443-5,793 (4x2-4x4 Max)
Wheelbase: 122.5 in; 131.5 in (Max)
Length: 210.0 in; 221.9 in (Max)
Height: 76.6 in (4x2)
Width: 79.9 in
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