- Roomy third-row seat
- Easy-to-fold rear seats increase interior flexibility
- More towing ability than similarly spacious crossovers
- V8 engine struggles under heavy loads
- Interior cheapened by some low-quality plastics
Whether it's due to recurring price spikes at the gas pumps or just the inevitable passing of another automotive fad, the widespread popularity of large sport-utility vehicles is clearly a thing of the past. Even so, there are some folks who still have a legitimate need for a full-size SUV like the 2013 Ford Expedition.
Actually, full-size is a bit of an understatement, as the eight-passenger Expedition and extended-wheelbase Expedition EL are among the largest passenger vehicles on the road. While the resulting interior room is undeniably an asset when it comes time to move lots of people and cargo, it also means these big trucks can be a handful when trying to maneuver through rush hour traffic or cramped parking garages.
In addition to their sheer size, the Expedition twins offer a couple of advantages over their main competitor, the 2013 Chevrolet Suburban, including better ride quality and a comfortable third-row seat that folds neatly into the cargo floor. The Toyota Sequoia matches the Expedition on these points, albeit with an interior that's just a tad tighter on headroom and legroom. Both the Suburban and Sequoia also have an edge by virtue of their more powerful V8 engine options, an important consideration for buyers expecting to tow sizable trailers.
In addition to the Suburban and Sequoia, buyers looking for a roomy eight-passenger interior should also consider large car-based crossovers, especially if they don't need the Expedition's considerable towing capacity. Topping this list would be the Chevrolet Traverse and 2013 Ford Flex, both of which offer noticeably better driving experiences and fuel economy.
With all of that said, the 2013 Ford Expedition still fills an important role for those few buyers who really need both maximum passenger space and towing capacity.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013
The 2013 Ford Expedition loses last year's base XL trim level but gains a few upgrades, like an integrated brake controller for improved towing.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2013 Ford Expedition is a full-size body-on-frame SUV available in two body styles: the regular Expedition and the extended-wheelbase Expedition EL, which is 15 inches longer overall. Both are offered in three trim levels: base XLT, upscale Limited and top-of-the-line King Ranch. Every Expedition comes with standard seating for eight passengers; optional second-row captain's chairs reduce that capacity to seven.
The XLT comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, running boards, a roof rack, rear parking sensors, heated mirrors, integrated blind-spot mirrors, rear privacy glass, power rear-quarter windows, rear parking sensors and keyless entry (both remote and door-mounted keypad). Inside you'll find cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), power-adjustable pedals, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40-split second-row seat, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Ford's voice-operated Sync system (includes an iPod/USB audio interface and Bluetooth phone connectivity) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and rear audio controls.
The XLT 201A package adds contrasting color body trim, automatic wipers, a power liftgate, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and leather-wrapped shift knob, an eight-way power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment and memory functions, a power-folding third-row seat, a 110-volt household-style power outlet and a seven-speaker audio system. The 202A package gets those items plus a heavy-duty trailer tow package, heated and cooled front seats and an eight-way power passenger seat with power lumbar adjustment. The 203A tacks on a sunroof and a touchscreen navigation system that includes HD radio and Sirius Travel Link service (provides real-time information on traffic, weather, sports, movie listings and local fuel prices).
The Limited trim includes all of the above except the 203A items, which are available as part of the 301A package. The Limited further comes standard with front parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, a driver-side auto-dimming mirror, heated second-row seats and a wood-trimmed steering wheel.
The Western-chic King Ranch edition sports features similar to the Limited while adding special two-tone paint, upgraded headlamps, premium "Chaparral" leather upholstery and wood-grain trim.
Several items from upper trims are available on lower trims as stand-alone options. Others vary by model and include 17- and 20-inch alloy wheels, a load-leveling rear air suspension, power-retracting running boards, a sunroof, second-row captain's chairs, remote ignition, a dual-screen rear video entertainment system and a heavy-duty trailer towing package.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2013 Ford Expedition you'll find a passenger cabin that's both attractive and spacious. Limited and King Ranch models are especially classy, though some low-quality materials take away from the otherwise upscale atmosphere. No matter which trim level you go with, however, you'll find gauges and controls that are simple in design and easier to use than those in Ford's more recently designed vehicles.
With a passenger cabin this size, everyone -- even third-row occupants -- has a good amount of room to stretch out. The standard 40/20/40-split second-row seat both slides and reclines for greater comfort, and includes a center section that can be scooted forward to put small kids within reach of mom or dad. The available second-row captain's chairs are a small luxury, even though they drop seating capacity to seven passengers. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor when you need more cargo room, which is a major advantage over the Suburban's heavy, awkward seats that have to be completely removed to free up that same space.
Speaking of cargo room, there's no shortage of it here. The standard Expedition offers 18.6 cubic feet behind the third row, while the Expedition EL sports 42.6 cubic feet. Fold down both rows of rear seats and you get a flat load floor with 108.3 and 130.8 cubic feet respectively.
The Ford Expedition comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Ford's programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to specify maximum speed limits and stereo volumes for their teenage drivers, is also standard. A rearview camera and parking sensors are optional.
In government crash tests, the Expedition and Expedition EL earned an overall rating of four stars out of five, along with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side impact protection.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The standard powertrain for the 2013 Ford Expedition and Expedition EL is a 5.4-liter V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It produces 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque.
Rear-wheel drive is standard but buyers can opt for four-wheel drive 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. This is solid, but more powerful competitors will feel more capable when towing in hilly terrain.
The EPA-estimated fuel economy for a two-wheel-drive Expedition is 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined -- average for a full-size SUV. EPA estimates for 4WD versions drop to 13/18/15.
Though the 2013 Ford Expedition is a sizable beast, the independent rear suspension gives it a decent ride quality not normally associated with big trucks. The precise and responsive steering feel also contributes to its easy-to-drive nature, though there's just no way around the limitations caused by its considerable dimensions when trying to negotiate tight spaces.
In most situations, the 5.4-liter V8 provides decent performance. Take on a full load of passengers and cargo or hitch up a large trailer, however, and the engine's weakness becomes all too apparent. And unlike its rivals from GM and Toyota, the fact that there's no more powerful engine option offered puts the Expedition at a distinct disadvantage. The six-speed automatic transmission is a strong point, though you may find yourself shifting it manually to maintain the desired gear when hauling a heavy load.
Though aged, the 2013 Ford Expedition still meets the requirements for shoppers needing a vehicle with significant passenger, cargo and towing capacities.