The Ford Expedition first came on the scene in 1997 and replaced the popular Ford Bronco which ended production 1996. The Bronco had been a staple SUV and a respected off-roading vehicle in the market since 1965 and is slated to return to the Ford lineup in 2020. The Expedition shares some pedigree with the accomplished Ford F-150 truck and the 2018 model we drove marks the fourth generation of the Ford Expedition. We tested the standard size, but it’s also available in an extended version, the Max, which is about 10 inches longer.
We racked up nearly 3,500 miles in ten days of driving in this 2018 Ford Expedition 7-Passenger Platinum 4×4 from Boulder, Colo. to Western Washington. We stuffed it with a full load of gear, including bikes on a hitch rack, for our family of four. Overall the Expedition did great. It was spacious, it handled well and was easy to drive for hours on end. The 2018 Ford Expedition pricing starts at $51,695.
The Expedition is big, but not massive. It’s 210 inches long and 79.9 inches wide. That’s right between the Chevy Traverse (204” x 79”) and Suburban (224″). The Expedition does come in a longer version called the Max at 221.9 inches. We never felt the Expedition was difficult to handle considering its size and its turn radius is on par at 20.5 feet (Suburban: 21.5’). Steering proved to be light and easy both in parking lots and on the freeway at speed—we had plenty of opportunity for both. It was also noted while driving that the suspension plays a strong role in preventing the Expedition from feeling like it’s swaying from side to side in tighter or faster corners. It has independent rear wheel suspension and a self-leveling technology that helps keep the ride stable.
While seeing out of the 2018 Expedition is fine, it’s always hard with such large vehicles to get a good feel for any objects or hazards by just looking around from the driver’s seat or using the mirrors. For that reason it comes with 360-Degree Camera surround view with various camera view options. It also includes a dedicated camera button above the central display to select which camera to view from (forward, rear, sides or 360-degree).
One unique feature of the Expedition is the rotary gear shift dial. Located in the center console, it’s a clever way to minimize the footprint compared to a standard forward and back shifter. It’s in a comfortable place to use and we really liked it.
The 4×4 Ford Expedition we had with the optional heavy duty towing package is rated to haul 9,200 pounds (conventional towing rating is 5,900 lbs.), though we never took advantage of that power. That comes from the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine with their own Ti-VCT valve timing creating 400 horsepower at 5,000 RPM and 480 pound-feet of torque at 2,250 RPM.
Internal passenger and cargo space was awesome. In the seven passenger mode—captain chairs for the second row and a bench for three in the back—this 2018 Ford Expedition still has 19.3 cubic feet of space—that’s pretty good for running errands around town, but is tight for road trips with seven people—that’s where a rooftop box (or two) comes in handy. With the third row down, which is how we rolled, the cargo space expanded to 57.5 cubic feet. That was enough room for ten days of luggage for four, a portable fridge and battery, and two kid bikes (one actual 16” bike and a collapsed tag-along bike). Perfect for our trip to Washington State from Colorado. To really open it up, drop down the second row to get 104.6 cubic feet of space.
Our 4×4 Expedition is rated by the EPA at 17 mpg for city driving and 22 mpg on the highway for a combined mpg of 19. After our 3,500 mile test, the computer in the vehicle claimed an average of 17.6 mpg while our at-the-pump calculations came out to 19 mpg—right on par with the EPA’s combined, although, there were way more highway miles than city miles on this trip, so it feels like the EPA rating was a little generous. A minor factor to keep in mind is we did have a bike rack with two bikes along for the ride. And with the 23.3 gallon tank, we could easily get over 300 miles out of a tank, sometimes over 400. That’s a good thing when hauling kiddos who depend on the hum of the road to stay asleep during nap time.
The 2018 Ford Expedition 4×4 Platinum comes with a host of amenities. One that we always value as travel writers is the WiFi hotspot capabilities so the person in the passenger seat can still get work done while on the road. Along with that came the plethora of power outlets. For laptops, there’s a 110V/150W AC plug on the back of the center console (facing the second row of seats). There are six USB ports spread out to each of the three rows of seats and finally four 12V cigarette-lighter style round ports: two in the front row, one in the second row and one in the rear cargo space (where we plugged in our portable Dometic fridge—perfect for lunch on the go). Also, the rear cargo area 12V plug is nicely situated facing up on the wheel well so when something is plugged into it, the plug does not interfere with the cargo area. Having it face up does however provide the chance of something getting caught in there, but it does include a cover to mitigate that.
This model did come with Ford’s built in entertainment screens built into the back of the front seat headrests for the second row. After trying a few of their connection methods, I wasn’t able to get the shows I had downloaded for off-line viewing on Netflix on our (older) iPad onto those screens. So we went with our tried and true method of strapping a magnetic holder to the headrest and mounting the iPad there. It worked fine. I’m sure if we had more time to play with the built in entertainment system we would figure something out.
The 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System combined with XM Satellite radio kept us entertained for the whole trip. We also loved the glass sunroof which entertained our kiddos during rainstorms.
The Explorer comes with a whole host of other features as well, so take the time to scroll through them on Ford’s site to see what stands out to you.
With this large of a vehicle, it’s easy to fit a family. Of particular convenience are the power deployed running boards that allow little passengers the ability to get in the vehicle themselves. We also appreciate the tinted windows in the rear to help protect little eyes from the sun, but we still missed having built in sun shades. While this will feel like a lot of vehicle for a family of four, there’s always the chance of wanting to take friends along or having relatives visit and that’s where the third row of seating can really come in handy. Along with some of the other amenities mentioned above, the Ford Expedition is an extremely family friendly vehicle.