Review: 2018 Ford Expedition
  • Car Review

Review: 2018 Ford Expedition

By David Undercoffler | April 30, 2018

Autolist rating: 3/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $52,985 – $80,060

Key takeaways

  • Redesigned for 2018.
  • Comes with an excellent turbocharged V6 when most competitors offer a V8.
  • Excellent use of space inside for both people and cargo.
  • Transmission and ride quality can be subpar.
  • Expensive.

What is it?

The Expedition is Ford’s largest SUV, sitting atop a range that includes the Explorer, Flex, Edge Escape and EcoSport. The seven or eight-seat Expedition is a true SUV, built on a platform similar to the one Ford uses for its F-Series line of pickup trucks.

It competes against the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL and the Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada. Higher-end trims of the Expedition also overlap with the Infiniti QX80 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.

This big Ford was completely redesigned for the 2018 model year, an update that included using aluminum for many of the Expedition’s body panels in an effort to save weight and boost performance and fuel efficiency.

The SUV comes in two different sizes: the regular Expedition and the long-wheelbase Max, the latter of which essentially serves as a replacement for the earlier, super-huge Ford Excursion and is a direct competitor to Chevy’s Suburban.

Stepping up to the Expedition Max will cost you about $2,700, and it adds a foot to the Expedition’s length. While passenger space doesn’t change -- the Max remains a seven or eight-seater like the regular Expedition -- cargo room jumps up by about 15 cubic feet.

There are three basic trim levels on the Expedition and Max models: base XLT, Limited and Platinum. The XLT version of each can also be configured with the FX4 off-road package.

This $1,650 setup adds upgraded shocks, a two-speed transfer case on 4x4 models, skid plates and additional fuel tank protection, unique tires and rims, running boards and a heavy-duty radiator.

All models come standard with eight-passenger seating that uses a bench seat in the middle row that is split 40/20/40. The Limited and Platinum versions can be optioned with two captain’s chairs in the middle row, dropping the passenger count to seven.

Rear-wheel drive is standard on all Expedition models while four-wheel drive is another $3,000.

All Expeditions -- regardless of size or trim level -- have the same powertrain: an EcoBoost 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission. In the XLT and Limited models, the engine makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. On Platinum versions, those numbers are bumped up to 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque.

What’s good

TLDR: Love the engine, tight turning radius, excellent interior space.

Engine power. While all of its competitors are still using V8 engines, Ford’s Expedition switched to a turbocharged V6 several years ago and never looked back. Drivers won’t either; this engine is wonderfully tuned to have more than enough breezy power whenever it’s requested. Plus, turbo lag — a culprit in most turbocharged engines these days — is non-existent in the Expedition.

Turns small. While parking this behemoth isn’t easy, turning it around is a breeze. The turning radius feels tiny, allowing you to make tight turns and flip the Expedition around in the parking lot with surprising agility. This made it easy living while driving such a large vehicle on a daily basis.

It’s what’s inside that counts. We tested a mid-grade, Limited model (heaped with options), and we were impressed with the high level of serene comfort that Ford has built into the Expedition. Plus, the interior is so versatile that there was more than enough room for seven tall adults and their luggage to head on a long road trip.

What’s bad

TLDR: Still a truck underneath, cranky transmission, big blind spots.

Ride quality. There’s only so much you can do to hide the truck bones underneath this Expedition’s skin. Over uneven or rough roads, the Expedition would shake and rattle around in a way that more refined rivals, like the Mercedes GLS, will not.

Transmission. The ten-speed unit on our test Expedition seemed poorly programmed; it would misjudge when to upshift or downshift, causing the truck to lurch unexpectedly. Other times, the shifts themselves wouldn’t be very smooth. We expected better from a redesigned model like this.

Blind spots. Obviously this is a big vehicle, so it’s reasonable to expect it would park like a big vehicle. But the sight lines out of the Expedition were worse than we’d hope; despite the wonderfully tight turning radius we mentioned earlier and the super-useful, 360-degree parking camera, we had more trouble parallel parking this thing that we’d expect. So make sure you practice at the dealership before signing up to do this on a daily basis.

5 stars of execution

Safety? No

  • The Expedition is in no way an unsafe vehicle. We just think that it needs more standard active safety features for the price. These include pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, all of which costs extra on the XLT and Limited Expedition models.
  • These features are standard equipment not only on some of the Expedition’s competitors but also crossovers that cost less than half of this Ford’s starting price.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have yet to crash test the Expedition.

Value? No

  • Despite the slick engine, revamped styling and upscale aspirations for this new Expedition, it’s expensive. Remember, this is supposed to be a workhorse SUV aimed at practicality, while the Lincoln brand is where the expensive luxury should be.
  • Its core rivals start at thousands of dollar less, and this discrepancy only grows as you start to pile options onto the Expedition. A loaded model shouldn’t cost the same as a not-even base model of Mercedes’ GLS.

Efficiency? Yes

  • This is where the Ford’s turbo engine comes in handy: the fuel economy. The Expedition is rated at 17/24/20 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. That’s one mpg higher for each than the rival Chevy Tahoe and several notches more efficient than the Toyota, Nissan or Infiniti models.
  • This benefit comes with a caveat, though: the real world figures can differ significantly. In our week with the Expedition Limited 4x4, we averaged 16.5 mpg in mixed city and highway driving.

Driving experience? Yes

  • The Expedition’s twin-turbo, V6 engine is a gem, and it was easily the highlight of this Ford’s driving experience. It’s smooth, effortlessly, powerful and never missed a beat.
  • Ford worked hard to bring down the weight of the Expedition (hence those aluminum body panels), and it shows when driving it around town; the SUV feels smaller and lighter than it is, though the burly engine also plays a big role here.
  • The driving experience wasn’t flawless though; the finicky transmission and unrefined handling were disappointing, though they weren’t bad enough to prevent us from recommending the Expedition.

Execution? Yes

  • Despite the strength of rivals like the Chevy Tahoe and Nissan Armada, we’d still prefer the new Expedition in the XLT trim we mentioned earlier.
  • Much of this stems from it being the newest model in the segment, allowing it to do everything one degree better than its peers.
  • Highlights include a sweetheart of an engine and a spacious and practical interior.

Total Rating: 3 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

The Expedition starts at $52,985 for the base XLT with rear-wheel drive. This comes with a power-folding, third-row seat, power driver’s seat, satellite radio and nine-speaker audio system, backup camera and backup sensors.

We’d recommend getting this XLT and then adding options to it rather than jumping up to the Limited or Platinum models. Our favorite configuration is the rear-wheel-drive XLT with the (poorly-named) 202A option group and the Driver Assistance Package.

For a total of $59,305, you get upgrades like leather seats, power front seats that are ventilated, power-folding, third-row seat, backup sensors, foot-activated power tailgate, heated steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and pre-collision braking. Even if you add all-wheel drive for another $3,000, this setup has everything you need and nothing you don’t.

If you do opt for the Limited, which starts at $63,870, you get upgrades like a Wi-Fi hotspot, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system, heated steering wheel, remote start, blind spot monitoring, power-deployed running boards and LED taillights.

The Platinum model starts at $74,225. It adds 25 extra horsepower and 10 extra pound-feet of torque, an adaptive damping suspension, 22-inch alloy wheels, fancier and more adjustable front seats, a touchscreen navigation system, real wood trim in the dashboard, automated parking (look ma, no hands!), adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking, active noise canceling, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof and a 360-degree parking camera.

Also consider

Chevy Tahoe/Suburban: No conversation about the Expedition is complete without a mention of its longtime rivals from Chevy. Though they’re a few years old at this point, and their approach is more basic than the Expedition, the Tahoe and Suburban have aged nicely. They’re definitely worth a look.

Toyota’s Sequoia is very old at this point and, while it packs a lot of value, that’s about the only advantage it has over the other.

Nissan updated its Armada in 2017 — a change that basically meant the automaker put Nissan badges on the SUV that had previously been the Infiniti QX80. It’s a competent choice though, with smooth V8 power, a luxurious interior and decent interior space. But it’s still outdated and can’t match the interior practicality of the Ford.