Ford Expedition: Bigger, Better

Gary S. Vasilash

If you’re going to introduce a new full-size SUV, you might as well do it in a place where there are more of them sold than anywhere else, says Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas. And it also happens to be a place where Ford sells 20 percent of its F Series full-size pickups.

It’s Texas.

Specifically, in the case of the new Expedition—and this is “new” as in “all-new,” which is probably due, as the fundamental vehicle was introduced 20 years ago, and while it has been updated and refreshed, it hasn’t undergone a full top-to-bottom change since until now—the global reveal took place at the Ford Center at the Star, a complex in Frisco, Texas, north of Dallas, a 510,000-square foot indoor athletic facility used by the Dallas Cowboys for training (there’s an indoor arena that seats 12,000 and there is a Texas-sized Ford Blue Oval on the outside of the building that’s probably big enough for the new neighbors down the way in Plano to see).


Jones (left) and Hinrichs (right) deep in the heart of Texas

Hinrichs has two new Platinum Expeditions driven out on a plaza outside the building. One of them was piloted by Stephen Jones, chief operating officer of the Cowboys, and son of Jerry. Jones said he is a long-time Expedition owner.

Perhaps one of the most notable things about the new Expedition is, Todd Hoevener, chief engineer, points out, the fact that the body is made with aluminum. And like the aluminum-bodied F Series, there is a high-strength steel frame underpinning the vehicle. (Although there are some borrowings from the F Series in terms of the front of the vehicle, Hoevener says the Expedition is its own platform.)

As is the case with the F Series, the purpose of the aluminum, the engineer says, was to reduce mass. There is up to 300 pounds of mass savings for the new vehicle thanks to the material. He points out that this is important because the Expedition is bigger than the previous model and it is offered with an array of available amenities.

The Expedition has more than 40 new features and driver-assist technologies, ranging from a second row seat that slides fore and aft and tips forward in such a way that it is possible to have a child seat in place while someone is accessing the third row to on-board Wi-Fi that’s not only capable of handling 10 devices, but which is accessible up to 50 feet away from the vehicle, from for 12-volt power points and six USB chargers and a 110-volt power outlet to a vista roof that covers the first and second rows.

And there are keeping assist, active park assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, and much more.

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost (with start-stop) that’s mated to a 10-speed automatic.

It is available as a 4x4. There is what Ford calls “Intelligent 4WD,” which is available with an electronic limited-slip differential that sends the torque to the wheel that needs it.

Ford research found that more than 50 percent of Expedition owners tow with their vehicles. That number may actually rise, as they are offering Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which essentially helps control the maneuvering via the turning of a knob.

Hinrichs pointed out that last year SUVs outsold cars in the U.S. market. So the Expedition, which goes on sale this fall, is one of a suite of products that the company has—or will have (the EcoSport is coming in 2018 to address the small end of the market and the Bronco is coming in 2020 to further address the middle)—to meet customer demands.

Especially in Texas.