2015 Ford Expedition EL King Ranch First Test

Downsized, But Upgraded

Sep 15, 2014
Photographers: Motor Trend Staff
With compact crossovers taking over as the undisputed sales volume leaders in the SUV realm, the originators of the genre, the 1/2-ton truck-based SUVs, have often languished on the back burner, receiving just a few periodic updates to keep them mildly attractive and interesting to potential buyers. However, as we’ve seen with both the fullsize and midsize truck segments, and even the fullsize van class, these formerly neglected models are finally getting some much-needed love. So is the case with the 2015 Ford Expedition and its patrician cousin, the Lincoln Navigator. From the outside, the changes amount largely to a styling refresh. On the inside as well, there are a number of detail changes to give the Expedition a more contemporary feel, but the biggest change is under the hood. The long-serving 5.4L 3-valve Triton V-8 has finally stepped aside to let its high-tech successor take center stage, the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 shared with the F-150.
Three-Ton Hustle
To nobody’s surprise, the new engine changes the character of the vehicle significantly. Although nobody would characterize the predecessor V-8’s performance as sluggish, the EcoBoost endows the Expedition with a newfound vigor. Despite a chunky 6,319-pound curb weight, the engine whisks the sumo-sized SUV from 0-60 in just 6.5 seconds, and through the quarter-mile at a brisk 15.1 seconds at 90.3 mph. The only component missing from the performance equation is the traditional V-8 soundtrack. The EcoBoost simply sounds like a V-6. There’s really no amount of acoustical engineering, piped-in or synthesized sound that can mask its true character. Though considering the substantial performance improvement offered by the EcoBoost, the offbeat growl of the V-6 seems a fair price to pay.
Aside from the new engine, the 2015 Expedition incorporates improved door seals that reduce air leaks by 20 percent, enhanced interior sound dampening, and an acoustic glass windshield on all models, as well as on the driver and front passenger side windows on the King Ranch and Platinum trims. Push-button start is also standard for 2015. The power steering assist changes from hydraulic to electric for better low-speed maneuverability, as well as more precise feel. As before, the Expedition, especially in plush King Ranch trim, which is joined by an even more opulent Platinum trim for 2015, is a supremely comfortable long-distance cruiser for both driver and passengers. In long-wheelbase EL form, the third row is actually habitable by adults for longer trips, but we’d still recommend second-row accommodations for cross-country jaunts.
A Familiar Face
Aside from those enhancements, the 2015 model cosmetically breaks little new ground compared to the 2014 model, with a slightly revised front end with a redesigned grille and fog lights and new 22-inch wheels being the only major changes of note. So, if you like the 2007-2014 Expedition, you’ll probably find nothing objectionable in the styling of this one.
Compared to the GM K2XX SUVs, which are truly all-new for 2015, the 2015 Expedition is more of a comprehensive refresh. Aside from a somewhat outdated powertrain in its predecessor, there’s not a lot that was inherently bad or broken about it. We expect an all-new model within the next few years, possibly incorporating an aluminum body like the 2015 F-150. A weight reduction of 500-700 pounds would help both the Expedition’s fuel economy, as well as its performance. Despite a significantly higher level of technology, the EcoBoost only improves the Expedition’s fuel economy 1 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway. Lighter weight and improved aerodynamics would undoubtedly improve that performance.
Patience Pays Off
While we feel the General Motors’ fullsize models set the class standard for features, refinement, and variety, if you’re a Blue Oval loyalist, have the need or desire for a fullsize, body-on-frame SUV, and like the idea or performance of the EcoBoost engine, we would definitely not discourage you from buying the 2015 model. But just go in with the knowledge that a truly all-new model will likely be coming in the next three years. If you have the patience to hold out for that long, based on what a quantum leap up the 2015 F-150 is over its predecessor, we expect the improvement on the Expedition will be similarly significant.

2015 Ford Expedition EL EcoBoost King Ranch
BASE PRICE $63,755
PRICE AS TESTED $69,780
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 3.5L/365-hp/420-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 6319 lb (50/50%)
WHEELBASE 131.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 220.8 x 78.8 x 77.7 in
0-60 MPH 6.5 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.1 sec @ 90.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 121 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.79 g (avg)

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