- Composed handling for such a large vehicle
- High towing capacity
- Roomy third-row seat
- Easily configurable rear seats
- Some confusing controls
- A few cheap interior touches
- Lackluster V8
With crossover SUVs making a hard charge in the marketplace thanks to their carlike driving manners and superior fuel economy, the traditional large SUV's best days are probably behind it. Many buyers have come to the realization that they simply don't need a vehicle with such ground-trembling dimensions, despite how empowering it may feel. There are, however, plenty of consumers who still have a need for a large SUV, and for those buyers there's the 2010 Ford Expedition.
The Expedition debuted a dozen years ago, with the last major redesign taking place in 2007. There are two variants: the regular Expedition and the long-wheelbase Expedition EL, which primarily provides additional luggage space. As expected for a full-size SUV, a V8 engine, a third-row seat and a big towing capacity are all part of the deal. For 2010, Ford has made a few electronic improvements on this formula. There is added functionality to the Sync voice-activation system, a programmable key that acts as an automotive chaperone for teen drivers, and trailer sway control. These baby steps forward may seem paltry, but the Expedition was already quite good overall and therefore not in need of any major changes.
Among its more civilized strengths, the Expedition counts supple ride quality, relatively confident handling and comfortable seating in all three rows. The ride and handling are no doubt largely attributable to the independent rear suspension -- a rarity in the large-SUV segment. Also notable is how easy it is to stow and raise the third-row seats. In competitors like the Chevy Tahoe, this operation is downright back-breaking. With the seats folded flat, the Expedition reveals another of its strengths -- a huge cargo hold.
The 2010 Ford Expedition is not without its faults. Some interior plastics have a cheap feel about them, the center stack is cluttered with buttons and some of the displays look dated and are hard to read. Against the competition, the Expedition doesn't dominate many categories either. The Chevrolet Tahoe has an even smoother ride, the Nissan Armada is more adept off-road, and both the Tahoe and the Toyota Sequoia have beefier V8 engine options, while the Armada is also notably quicker despite its V8's similar output numbers. As an all-around performer, though, the Expedition remains a front runner thanks to its large capacity for passengers and cargo, easy-driving demeanor and its relative bargain status. For those with the need for a large SUV, the 2010 Ford Expedition should be on your short list.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010
For 2010, Ford has updated the Expedition's features list with a programmable MyKey, new services to the Sync system and standard trailer sway control.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2010 Ford Expedition is a full-size, body-on-frame SUV offered in four trim levels: base XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch. Buyers may also opt for the extended-wheelbase Expedition EL, which adds 15 inches of overall length. The well-equipped base XLT model has seating for five (eight for the third-row-equipped EL) and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a roof rack, running boards, air-conditioning (with rear controls), front captain's chairs, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, full power accessories and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack and rear audio controls.
Upgrading to the Eddie Bauer Edition adds 18-inch wheels, gold body cladding and running boards, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, a power-folding third-row seat (both regular and EL), leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded sound system (with an in-dash CD changer and satellite radio), the Sync multimedia voice control system, rear parking sensors, driver seat memory settings, power-adjustable pedals and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
The Limited trim level goes a few steps further with 18-inch chrome wheels, a monochromatic paint job, power-folding mirrors, a power liftgate, a back-up camera (with rearview mirror display), rain-sensing wipers, perforated leather seats (heated and ventilated up front, heated in the second row), a wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel and a standard heavy-duty towing package. Finally, there's the King Ranch edition (named for the largest ranch in the U.S.), which is similar to the Limited but sports 18-inch wheels with specific badging, upgraded Chaparral leather upholstery and wood trim.
Many of the extra features found on the upper trim levels can be ordered as options on the lower trims. Other major options, depending on trim, include 20-inch chrome wheels, a manually folding third-row seat for the XLT (increasing seating capacity to eight), second-row captain's chairs (reduces total passenger capacity by one), a sunroof, a rear entertainment system and a load-leveling rear air suspension. A touchscreen navigation system is available for all but XLT models and includes Sirius Travel Link, which provides information on traffic, weather, sports, movie listings and local fuel prices. Other popular add-ons include skid plates, power-retractable running boards and a heavy-duty towing package.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2010 Ford Expedition offers a wide range of seating options, with the ability to seat five to eight passengers, depending on trim level and configuration. The standard second-row bench features a 40/20/40 split with a forward sliding center section to provide easier access to an infant. The optional second-row captain's chairs include a storage console between the seats, but seating capacity drops to seven. Further back in the Expedition's cabin, passengers will find some of the most comfortable third-row seats in this class. Adding to the appeal is the ability of these 60/40-split rear seats to easily fold flat with a simple release handle or, in higher trim levels, at the touch of a button.
With the third-row seats in position for the regular Expedition, luggage space is limited to 18.6 cubic feet. The longer wheelbase of the Expedition EL grants more room here, and consequently luggage space grows to 42.6 cubic feet. The second-row seats fold away to allow for 108 cubes in the base model, or more than 130 cubic feet for the EL.
We're fans of Ford's Sync system (standard for all models except the XLT) as it allows for convenient voice-activated operation of mobile phones, iPods and other MP3 players. For 2010, Sync adds the ability to provide driving directions, traffic conditions and other information to Bluetooth-enabled phones. This system is a welcome alternative to navigating through a confusing sea of center stack buttons. Drivers will also appreciate the overhead conversation mirror, which makes keeping tabs on rear seat occupants easy and safe.
The 2010 Ford Expedition comes standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, a rollover-sensing stability control system, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags (including third-row coverage). A new addition for 2010 is Ford's programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to specify speed limits and stereo volumes for their teenage drivers. Another new feature is Trailer Sway Control, which uses the existing stability control sensors to detect trailer sway, then applies precise braking and throttle adjustments to assist in bringing both the vehicle and the trailer under control.
In government crash testing, the Ford Expedition received a five-star rating (the best possible) for frontal and side-impact protection for driver and passengers.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
All Expeditions are powered by a 5.4-liter V8 that produces 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. A standard six-speed automatic transmission channels power to the rear wheels by default, but buyers can opt for a four-wheel-drive layout with low-range gearing. The last Expedition we tested (it produced 10 hp less than the current model) accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, a below-average time for this segment. Properly equipped, the Expedition has a maximum tow rating of 9,200 pounds.
Fuel economy is about average for a full-size SUV, with the EPA estimating 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg in combined driving for a 2WD Expedition.
The 2010 Ford Expedition is an impressive vehicle in its sheer size and weight (5,500 pounds at its lightest). Even more impressive, though, is how much lighter and smaller the Expedition feels compared to the competition. The relatively precise and responsive steering helps in this area, as does a smooth and compliant ride (even smoother when loaded with cargo). On the highway, the Expedition continues to supply a pleasant ride, though overall it's not quite as compliant as some competitors. The cabin remains fairly quiet at speed.
In general, the V8 provides enough power for daily use. But acceleration (especially in the heavier Expedition EL) can be notably labored when the vehicle is weighed down by a trailer or additional passengers and/or cargo. The six-speed automatic shifts fluidly and quickly, but in some passing situations it has difficulty finding the appropriate gear.
The 2010 Ford Expedition is a capable all-around performer thanks to its civilized driving manners, comfortable seating and large passenger and cargo capacities.