- Roomy third-row seat
- Strong and efficient turbocharged V6
- Easy-folding rear seats increase interior flexibility
- Tows more than similarly sized crossovers
- Undeniably bulky size makes it difficult to park (especially the extended-wheelbase EL version)
- Interior looks a bit dated
If you need a vehicle that's more rugged than the typical three-row crossover SUV, a traditional, truck-based SUV is likely the way to go. The 2017 Ford Expedition, with seating for eight, class-leading towing capacity, and a powerful turbocharged six-cylinder engine, is definitely one of the biggest and most capable vehicles out there. Pleasingly, there's also more to the Expedition than just pure capability.
The 2017 Expedition is available with several trim levels and options packages that make it as modern as any family sedan. Sync 3, Ford's latest infotainment interface, is much improved from previous iterations, making the Expedition's touchscreen easy to use. The interior is packaged well, too. You can fit several suitcases in the back while leaving plenty of room for passengers in the cabin. What's more, it goes down the highway with a surprising amount of comfort and stability, particularly if it's fitted with the optional adaptive suspension. So, go ahead and settle down for that long family road trip -- this Ford is ready.
There aren't a lot of traditional body-on-frame full-size-SUVs that compete with the Expedition. The Chevrolet Suburban is the obvious alternative. This popular rig (along with its GMC Yukon sibling) has a lower towing capacity and less cargo space, but if you've got an extra large brood to carry around, the Suburban does have the ability to seat nine passengers. It might also be worth considering the Toyota Sequoia, as it also has strong fundamental capabilities, but we've found that the Sequoia simply isn't as well-equipped or modern as the Ford and Chevy. A dark horse candidate could be the redesigned 2017 Nissan Armada, which boasts a new V8 engine and an impressive amount of safety features.
In the end, though, it's pretty clear: If you need lots of towing capacity and seating for seven or eight people, the 2017 Ford Expedition is hard to beat.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
The 2017 Ford Expedition carries over with no significant changes.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Ford Expedition is a full-size, body-on-frame SUV with four available trim levels: XLT, Limited, King Ranch and Platinum. All four trim levels are available in standard and extended-length (EL) body styles and can be had with two- or four-wheel drive. The EL Expeditions are 15 inches longer overall. Regardless of body style, there is standard seating for eight passengers, while optional captain's chairs for the second row reduce passenger capacity to seven.
Standard equipment on the XLT includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED foglights, running boards, a roof rack, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat with manual recline, power-adjustable pedals, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40 split second-row seat and a one-touch 60/40 fold-flat third-row seat. There's also a leather-wrapped manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Ford's Sync voice-control system, a 4.2-inch screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, USB interface, auxiliary jack and rear audio controls.
Two options packages are available for the XLT: 201A and 202A. The 201A package adds a power liftgate, leather upholstery for the first- and second-row seats (the third row has vinyl), a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a six-way power 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, a 10-way power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and the Sync 3 interface with an 8-inch touchscreen and HD/satellite radio.
The Limited trim gets all of 202A's equipment plus 20-inch wheels, front parking sensors, power-folding mirrors (with a driver-side auto-dimming mirror), automatic wipers, heated second-row seats and an upgraded 12-speaker Sony audio system. Get the Limited trim with the 301A Package and you'll add a sunroof, retractable running boards and a voice-activated navigation system.
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 without the Western theme. It also gets 22-inch wheels and a sunroof as standard.
Stand-alone options for the 2017 Expedition, depending on the trim level, include many of the items in the prepackaged equipment groups, plus a load-leveling rear suspension, adaptive suspension dampers, second-row captain's chairs, power retractable running boards, a dual-screen rear seat video entertainment system and a 3.73 limited-slip rear axle.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside, the 2017 Ford Expedition is classy and roomy. The Limited, King Ranch and Platinum models are especially well-trimmed and attractive, but there are some low-budget surfaces that don't fit the upscale cabin theme. Sync 3 has replaced the old MyFord Touch touchscreen that we've lamented in the past and overall, it's a big upgrade. The graphics aren't as pretty but functionally, it's much easier to learn and use, especially when you're pairing with your smartphone.
Whether you get a standard or extended-length Expedition, there's plenty of room to stretch out in all three rows. The standard 40/20/40 split second-row seat slides and reclines for greater comfort, and includes a center section that can be scooted forward to put small kids within reach of the driver. If you can go without the extra seat, the second-row captain's chairs are a nice luxury and provide easier access to the third row. The third-row seat also folds flat into the floor when you need more cargo room, which makes loading luggage a simple task.
If it's cargo room you're after, the Expedition does well, especially in the extended-length trims. The standard 2017 Expedition has 18.6 cubic feet behind the third row, which isn't much by class standards, but the Expedition EL sports a whopping 42.6 cubes behind the third row. 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 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. During Edmunds performance testing, in a simulated panic stop, a 4WD Expedition came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, an average distance for its class.
Ford's programmable MyKey system is standard. It allows owners to specify maximum speed limits and stereo volumes for secondary drivers (teenagers or valets, for instance). 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.
In government crash testing, the Expedition received a top five-star rating for overall protection, with a five-star rating for both frontal and side-impact protection.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Each 2017 Ford Expedition is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is rear-wheel drive. 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.
EPA estimates for the standard-length Expedition check in at 18 mpg combined (15 mpg city/22 mpg highway) with rear-wheel drive, or 17 mpg combined (15 city/20 highway) with 4WD. Going for the EL versions drops those numbers by about 1 mpg. On our 120-mile evaluation driving route, we matched the EPA's 17 mpg combined estimate in a 4WD Expedition.
Although it is a bit of a behemoth, the Expedition is still one of the quickest vehicles in its class. At the Edmunds test track, a 4WD Expedition EL accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds.
Despite its significant size, the Ford Expedition is pretty manageable on the road. The four-wheel independent suspension gives it an exceptionally smooth ride relative to rivals. Similarly sized SUVs with live-axle rear suspensions are much stiffer. Opting for the Expedition's three-way adaptive dampers makes its excellent manners even better. Precise and responsive steering also contributes to an easy-to-drive nature. As with pretty much every vehicle that's this big, the Expedition's considerable bulk makes it a handful in tight spaces and crowded parking lots.
Even though it's up against competitors with big V8's under the hood, the Expedition is one of the quickest cars in the class. The turbocharged V6 engine is surprisingly well suited for this big SUV with plenty of power to pull it up long grades, even when it's fully loaded or pulling a reasonably sized trailer. The turbocharger doesn't delay acceleration, nor does it make you miss the old, thirsty V8.
There are plenty of car-based crossovers to choose from these days. But there are times when you might want the capabilities of a beefy, traditional SUV. The 2017 Ford Expedition is one of our top recommendations in this segment thanks to massive passenger, cargo and towing capabilities.