Ford definitely has all its bases covered when it comes to SUVs, including the Escape, Edge, Flex, and Explorer. And soon, a new subcompact will be coming along called the EcoSport. At the other end of the scale, they've also done a complete redesign of their big one, the Expedition.
"This is actually our first all-new one in 21 years. The 1997 Expedition was our first one, and this is the first all-new version since then," said Joe McCarty, product planner at Ford Motor Company.
Yes, the Expedition first came rolling in over two decades ago, and while heavily updated over the years, it was always that 1997 one underneath -- until now, with the 2018 Expedition. It picks up aluminum construction like the Ford F-150 pickup, for about 300 pounds of weight savings.
Twenty-one years of progress also means a modern sticker price with a base of $51,695 for XLT trim.
Of course, Ford has now incorporated lots of technology, like available in-vehicle WiFi, streaming of movies and wireless phone charging. Other useful features are present, too, like the way the second row seats fold forward for access to the third row. Unlike most other seats, the backrest and bottom cushion stay in the same configuration as the seat swings forward. That way, you don't have to remove an infant seat just to access the rear. As an option, both the third and second row seats can fold electrically via buttons in the cargo area.
Under the hood, the old V8 is long gone (it actually disappeared from the Expedition a few years ago), replaced by a twin turbocharged EcoBoost V6 making up to 400 horsepower. Ford says you'll never miss the extra two cylinders, and I asked Ford engineer Alex Long to list the advantages of the V6 over the previous V8
"More power, more torque, better fuel mileage and more towing capacity," he said.
Two-wheel drive versions of the new Expedition are rated at a combined 20 mpg. If you choose a four-wheel drive 2018 Expedition, that combined number drops to 19 mpg.
The doors have a very solid, precise feel to them. The advantage for the Expedition is that it was developed alongside the upscale, more expensive 2018 Lincoln Navigator. This also resulted in the Expedition having a much better ride than ever before.
While all SUVs may look somewhat alike, the larger ones like the Expedition differ underneath in that they have a separate frame, like a pickup truck. That means the four-wheel drive version can handle genuine off-roading. The vehicle also has an impressive towing capacity of 9,300 pounds.
If you are going to be towing, how about something to help back the trailer up? Ford now offers a technology called Pro Trailer Assist. You let go of the steering wheel, turn a knob on the dashboard while backing, and the trailer goes where you want it to.
Some had written off big SUV's as "dinosaurs" in the automotive world, but they're not extinct yet. Technology is helping to keep them around.
"It's completely different, compared to the prior Expedition," said McCarty. "It's a night-and-day difference, as it's much more modern now."