- Roomy third-row seat
- Strong and efficient turbocharged V6
- Easy-folding rear seats increase interior flexibility
- Tows more than similarly sized crossovers
- Feels big from the driver seat
- Difficult to park
While there are many crossover SUVs available today with impressive mileage, roomy interiors and respectable cargo space, some families need something even bigger. That's where full-size, traditional SUVs like the 2015 Ford Expedition come in, providing three rows of seating, heavy-duty towing capacity and enough space for even the largest brood.
The 2015 Expedition looks a little more modern this year, thanks to new front and rear styling, but the biggest change is under the hood. In a move toward better fuel economy, Ford has dropped the V8 engine. It's not even an option. Instead, every 2015 Expedition gets a turbocharged V6 that provides 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, which is even better than the previous V8. Ford has also updated the Expedition's suspension. It's now available with adjustable damping that has three selectable drive modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. In such a large vehicle that was already pretty comfortable, this is an added benefit that makes traveling in the Expedition that much more appealing.
When it comes to carrying a large group of people and/or towing a boat or trailer, the 2015 Expedition is still one of the few vehicles that can handle almost anything you throw at it. It can tow up to 9,200 pounds when properly equipped and offers seating for up to eight people. The 2015 Expedition's interior has a fresher and more modern look, which incorporates the latest MyFord Touch infotainment interface. For cargo of all kinds, it's one of the roomiest vehicles on the road, too, with more than 130 cubic feet of cargo space available in the Expedition EL version when you fold down the second and third rows of seats.
It's not surprising, then, that a major drawback to owning an Expedition is its sheer size. To assuage parking issues, there are rear parking sensors and a rearview camera equipped as standard, but somehow the Expedition still feels hard to handle and even bigger than it is. Not everyone will need the Expedition's hulking size, though, so we recommend looking at some smaller competitors if you aren't constantly hauling seven other people and their gear.
We also recommend looking at the redesigned 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2015 Chevrolet Suburban (and their GMC Yukon twins), which will seat up to nine passengers and still provide a V8 powertrain. The Toyota Sequoia should also be considered, as it will also seat eight passengers, while feeling a bit lighter on its feet. The bottom line is, if you're interested in one of these traditional SUVs, it's because you need the capability they provide, and the 2015 Ford Expedition is clearly a top contender.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
The 2015 Ford Expedition has been updated with a new engine, new suspension options, subtle styling changes and an improved interior.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 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 four trim levels: XLT, Limited, King Ranch and the new Platinum trim (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, power rear quarter windows and keyless entry (both remote and door-mounted keypad). Inside you'll find cruise control, a 4.2-inch center display, a rearview camera, air-conditioning, 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-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Ford's voice-operated Sync system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, an auxiliary audio jack and rear audio controls.
The XLT 201A package adds a power liftgate, heated rearview mirrors, leather upholstery (for the first- and second-row seats; the third row has vinyl), an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a six-way front passenger seat and a power-folding third-row seat. The 202A package gets those items plus a heavy-duty trailer tow package, remote ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), the MyFord Touch interface with an 8-inch touchscreen and an upgraded 12-speaker Sony audio system with satellite radio.
The Limited trim includes all of the above items along with 20-inch wheels, front parking sensors, power-folding mirrors (with a driver-side auto-dimming mirror), automatic wipers and heated second-row seats. The 301A Package adds a sunroof, retractable running boards and a navigation system with HD radio.
The Western-chic King Ranch Edition is equipped similarly to the Limited, but has special two-tone paint, special exterior styling details, a blind-spot monitoring system, premium leather upholstery and wood grain interior trim. The Platinum is similarly equipped to the King Ranch, but it loses the Western theme and gets the sunroof as standard.
Other stand-alone options for the Expedition, depending on the trim level, include a load-leveling rear suspension, 22-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, second-row captain's chairs and a dual-screen rear seat video entertainment system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2015 Ford Expedition, you'll find plenty of room and a conservative but attractive look. Limited, King Ranch and the new Platinum models are especially classy, but there are a few low-quality surfaces that don't fit the upscale cabin theme. This year's Expedition finally gets the MyFord Touch interface as an option. Backed by many redundant voice commands, it can be a powerful tool for configuring and controlling the vehicle and your smartphone. Even though the system works significantly better than when it debuted, there can be a steep learning curve for getting accustomed to even basic functions.
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 also folds flat into the floor when you need more cargo room, useful for any family going on a luggage-heavy vacation.
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. For comparison, that's about 10 cubic feet more than the Sequoia and Suburban.
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. At the Edmunds test facility, a 2015 Expedition 4x4 came to a controlled stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, an average distance for its class.
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 and a rearview camera are also standard across the board, and the Limited and King Ranch also have front sensors. A blind-spot monitoring system is standard on the King Ranch and Platinum trim levels and optional for the others.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Powering the 2015 Ford Expedition and Expedition EL is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 making 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability, 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.
The EPA estimates a standard 2WD Expedition will earn 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway), with the extended-wheelbase EL model coming in at 17 mpg combined (15/21). Opting for a 4WD Expedition drops those estimates only slightly. On a highway-biased evaluation loop of our own, we exactly matched the EPA's 17 mpg combined estimate in a 2015 Expedition with 4WD.
At the Edmunds test track, that same Expedition Platinum 4x4 proved to be one of the quickest trucks in its class, as it made the dash to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, easily trouncing competitive full-size SUVs equipped with traditional V8 engines.
Although the 2015 Ford Expedition is a sizable beast, its four-wheel independent suspension gives it exceptionally smooth ride qualities for a traditional full-size SUV. This cannot be said of similarly sized SUVs with so-called live-axle rear suspensions. Opting for the Expedition's three-way adaptive dampers makes its excellent manners even better. 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 relation to the V8 it replaced, the new turbocharged V6 engine's increase in horsepower is less noticeable than the thoroughly enhanced torque character. The turbocharger lights quickly, and the immediate shove it produces will convert even the most stubborn critic bemoaning the loss of the V8.
If a vehicle with such sizable proportions is what you need to ferry your large brood about or comfortably tow anything sizable, the 2015 Expedition should be a top consideration.
Though most buyers prefer car-based crossovers to full-size truck-based SUVs, the refreshed 2015 Ford Expedition will satisfy those who need significant passenger, cargo and towing capacities.