Full-size SUVs no longer occupy the hallowed position they once did. Compact crossovers rule the SUV sales charts, with the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Chevrolet Equinox each the best-selling SUV for their respective brand by a long shot. But the big boys still have symbolic importance to the brands as the flagship models, at least in terms of size and status. With the 2015 Ford Expedition and, by extension, its uptown brother, the Lincoln Navigator, we have an interesting contrast to approach by Ford compared with General Motors' wholesale redesign of its full-size SUVs.
At first glance, it may seem not a lot has changed on Ford's full-size utility. Certainly, it's immediately recognizable for what it is. Key dimensions are unchanged, and the majority of sheetmetal carries over. Speaking of sheetmetal, unlike the 2015 F-150, it's still steel. The upper grille gets a harder-edged design, and the lower bumper gets a larger opening and a redesign. The foglights are now LEDs, and the 2015 Expedition gains some street cred with factory-optional 22-inch wheels.
Around back, the tailgate gets a full-width brushed-metal-look accent strip with the "Expedition" logo, but otherwise is largely unchanged. Interior updates are subtle, but meaningful. The center stack is redesigned, with the overall design reflecting the 2014 F-150, including an available 8-inch touchscreen with MyFord Touch, and climate and audio controls lifted almost wholesale from the current F-150. And the Expedition finally gets push-button start, now an expected feature on higher-trim vehicles of every class.
The Big News
As noted, the trim and styling changes are what one would typically expect for a mid-cycle refresh. But the bigger change is under the hood, with the 5.4-liter 3-valve Triton V-8 being replaced by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Still want a big, naturally aspirated V-8 in your Expedition? Tough luck. The EcoBoost is now the sole engine choice for the Expedition, as it is on the 2015 Navigator. Official output figures for the EcoBoost as installed in the Expedition haven't been released yet, but even going off the current output of 365 hp and 420 lb-ft in the F-150, the blown six still represents a healthy increase of 55 hp and 55 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing 5.4 Triton. This will also incidentally give the new Expedition a slight edge over the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe's output of 355 hp and 383 lb-ft.
Enough of a Change?
While we appreciate the updates to the 2015 Expedition, and certainly acknowledge the newsworthiness of the EcoBoost, it seems a relatively minor makeover in the context of GM's comprehensive redesign of its full-size SUV lineup. Since the Escape and Explorer are Ford's SUV sales champs, the Expedition's relative importance to the brand has diminished, and GM dominates in the full-size SUV segment. Did Ford go far enough with the changes on the 2015 Expedition?