Meaningful change is coming to the Ford Expedition lineup for 2015. Just when it almost looked like Ford had written off its full-size truck-based SUV completely—it’s been carried over mostly unchanged for many model years—the Expedition has been brought fully up to the expectations of a new decade of SUV shoppers with a higher-mileage turbo V-6. a new continuous-damping suspension system for more comfort and quiet, and cosmetic improvements all around.
And looking at the Expedition’s competitive set, it’s rising to the challenge just in the nick of time—to meet redesigned full-size GM SUVs (the Chevrolet Tahoe and Silverado, and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL), which have been given quieter, more stylish interiors, more features, and a fuel-saving engine lineup.
The 2015 Ford Expedition remains based on the Ford F-150; although with the 2015 F-150 going in a radical new direction, with a lightweight aluminum construction, there’s no longer going to be such a direct connection. And we feel like some of the Expedition’s changes on the outside go toward distancing it from the ever-bolder F-Series. Visually, the new Expedition has a somewhat chunkier yet softer and streamlined look—within the confines of its carry-over profile. There’s a thick new chrome strip across the back that, from pictures, looks to visually lower this big ute, while wheel sizes now range up to 22 inches and exhaust pipes are now chrome-tipped. Inside, plush new upholsteries have been added, and the Platinum model’s trim has been upgraded for more contrast. And yes, there is indeed a plush King Ranch model on the way.
From a design and functionality standpoint, the biggest news is front and center, where the MyFord Touch infotainment system has been installed here, with an eight-inch screen, two new, smaller full-color 4.2-inch screens flanking the steering wheel, and clean new center-stack design to accommodate it (and fit in with current Ford models). Based on early pictures, we still see the instrument-panel design, outside of those improvements, to be from another era, although the look is pretty cohesive—and a lot more convincing.
The big news, however, is that Ford is forgetting about the V-8 and instead installing its EcoBoost V-6 in the 2015 Explorer—which should bring gains of around 2 mpg (over the current 2014 ratings of 13 mpg city, 18 highway with 4WD, or 14/20 with 2WD) while maintaining the current towing ratings of up to 9,200 pounds. Although Ford hasn’t officially released specs for the Expedition, the same engine makes 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque installed in the current F-150. It should make the Expedition quicker and less cumbersome to drive.
Powertrain is only part of it, though. Ford has also added a continuously damping system to the Expedition—for the first time ever on a Ford-brand vehicle. In the 2015 Expedition it will offer three modes—comfort, normal, and sport—and draw from 46 different sensors/inputs to make a split-second change according to the road surface, loading, or even steering inputs, for instance. The system is indeed paired with a version of Ford’s electric power steering—also new to the Expedition. We already thought that the outgoing Expedition rode and handled better than most vehicles in its class, so we’re eager to spend some time in this improved model.
We expect the two lengths of the Expedition—standard and EL—to carry over for 2015. With the Expedition EL you gain 14.8 inches longer overall, with longer rear fenders and glass. It’s one of the biggest SUVs on the planet, frankly, and its wheelbase of 131 inches is longer than the full length of either a Smart fortwo or Mitsubishi i-MiEV. With either version you get an almost van-like interior and loads of passenger space in the first two rows, but cargo space is more abundant and third-row access is much easier in the EL. Just beware that you’ll pay the price in maneuverability and parking ease.
The Expedition hasn’t been crash-tested in many years; and we’re not yet sure how much its structure has changed for 2015; yet in past model years it’s maintained a good safety reputation. For 2015, Ford is adding a radar-based Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert. A rearview camera system is also included.
Very little has been detailed yet about feature content or trim levels (although a new Platinum series will bring top-of-the-line features plus wine-color Brunello leather with tuxedo stripes and French seams. Some other additions to the lineup, according to Ford, include seven-color LED ambient lighting, Ford truck apps, for towing, and a ten-speaker, 700-watt Sony sound system.
The 2015 Ford Expedition goes on sale later in the year.