- 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
With the ability to carry eight passengers and tow up to 9,200 pounds, the 2014 Ford Expedition remains one of the most capable vehicles on the market for large families with a boat or travel trailer. An expected side effect of these qualifications is size: The standard-wheelbase Expedition and long-wheelbase Expedition EL are two of the largest SUVs on the road.
Naturally, this translates to a lot of room in the cabin. There's plenty of space for adults and teenagers to stretch out in all three rows. Moreover, with a maximum cargo capacity of 108 cubic feet in the regular-size Expedition and upwards of 130 in the Ford Expedition EL, there won't be many hauling jobs you can't handle. That said, the extra-large footprint of the 2014 Ford Expedition makes it a bear to maneuver in tight spaces. This full-size SUV is not lightweight, either, and even with a V8 engine under the hood, it's not quick with a full load of passengers.
Accordingly, if you don't truly need all the Expedition's capabilities, there are many other seven- and eight-passenger vehicles that are easier to drive on a daily basis, not to mention significantly more fuel-efficient. Minivans like the Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest offer spacious passenger quarters, as do large crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse and Ford's own Flex.
However, if a traditional full-size SUV is a must for your household, there are really only three major rivals that provide similar space and utility: the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and the Toyota Sequoia. All of these vehicles are newer designs than the Expedition and come equipped with stronger V8 engines, an important consideration if you have a sizable trailer.
Day to day, though, you might find the Ford friendlier than either of the Chevys (or their GMC counterparts), which don't offer third-row seats that fold into the floor: a standard convenience on both the Ford and Toyota. Of course you'll want to assess your priorities carefully before you decide, but on the whole, the 2014 Ford Expedition is a solid contender for families who need all the seating and towing capacity they can get.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2014
The 2014 Ford Expedition is now available with a new mechanical-type, load-leveling rear suspension in place of the previous air-based system. There are also minor changes to trim levels and option packages.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2014 Ford Expedition is a full-size, traditional 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. (XL models are sold only to fleet customers). Every Expedition comes standard with seating for eight passengers, and 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, power rear-quarter windows 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 fold-flat third-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, rearview mirrors with memory functions, leather upholstery (for the first- and second-row seats; the third row has vinyl), a 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 an upgraded 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 Limited trim includes all of the above items along with front parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, a driver-side auto-dimming mirror, heated second-row seats and a wood-trimmed steering wheel. The 301A Package adds a sunroof, retractable running boards, a navigation system that includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, HD radio, 10GB of personal music storage and Sirius Travel Link service (provides traffic, weather, sports, movie listings and local fuel prices).
The Western-chic King Ranch Edition is equipped similarly to the Limited but has special two-tone paint, upgraded headlights, premium "Chaparral" leather upholstery and wood-grain interior trim.
Several items from upper trims are available on lower trims as stand-alone options. Others vary by model and include 20-inch alloy wheels, a load-leveling rear suspension, second-row captain's chairs, remote ignition, a dual-screen rear video entertainment system and a towing package.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2014 Ford Expedition, you'll find an interior 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 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 Tahoe's (or 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 cubic feet in the regular-size Expedition and 130.8 cubic feet in the Ford Expedition EL.
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 secondary drivers, is also standard. Rear parking sensors are standard across the board, and the Limited and King Ranch also have front sensors. A rearview camera is optional on the XLT and standard on the higher trims.
In government crash tests, the Expedition and Expedition EL earned an overall rating of four stars out of five, along with four out of five stars for frontal crash protection and a perfect five stars for side-impact protection.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The powertrain for the 2014 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. Properly equipped, the Expedition has a maximum tow rating of 9,200 pounds. This is a good number for this class, but more powerful competitors like the Tahoe and Sequoia feel stronger and more capable when towing on hilly terrain, in spite of their numerically lower towing capacities.
The EPA-estimated fuel economy for a two-wheel-drive Expedition or Expedition EL is 16 mpg combined (14 mpg city/20 mpg highway), which is average for a full-size SUV. EPA estimates for 4WD versions drop to 15 mpg combined (13 mpg city/18 mpg highway).
Although the 2014 Ford Expedition is a sizable beast, its independent rear suspension gives it a smooth ride quality for a traditional full-size SUV. Precise and responsive steering also contributes to its easy-to-drive nature, but its considerable dimensions are a notable limitation 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. Compared with more powerful rivals from GM and Toyota, the Expedition is at a distinct disadvantage when it's time to work. In addition, you may find yourself shifting the six-speed automatic transmission manually to maintain the desired gear when hauling a heavy load.
Though it's an older design, the 2014 Ford Expedition still meets the requirements for shoppers needing an eight-passenger vehicle with significant cargo and towing capacities.