2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch EL First Test
Old dog, new tricks
We've all done it: Reluctantly gone to that movie the girlfriend desperately wanted to see, or hit that unknown bar someone insisted was the place to be on game day. And, occasionally, we've walked out smiling because we didn't know the movie happened to be set in a tropical resort filled with bikini-clad supermodels, or that the bar served our favorite, hard-to-find craft beer. It's a bit like that with the 2015 Ford Expedition EL: You'll approach it with low expectations, and come away slightly surprised.
Part of it is context. While GM's completely redesigned full-size 2015 sport/utes -- Tahoe/Suburban, Yukon, and Escalade – roll on the new GMT K2XX truck architecture that made its debut last year, the 2015 Expedition is built off hardware last refreshed in 2006. It has old bones, and looks it.
The Ford Expedition is a 2015 Motor Trend SUV of the Year contender - find out whether the SUV has what it takes to win later this month.
Sure, there's a new grille, a new front bumper, and new headlights, plus a chrome strip across the mildly redesigned tailgate, and new wheels, but this is all doodling at the margins. The basic sheetmetal, which, when revealed eight years ago proved to be a mild evolution of the 2002 Expedition's, is unchanged. Next to the new GMs, this Ford is clearly last decade's truck.
It's pretty much the same story inside. The Expedition gets the now-ubiquitous Sync with MyFord Touch, which means there's a slightly revised center stack to house the 8-inch touchscreen, and a new instrument panel with two 4.2-inch color LCD information screens that are an integral part of the system. There's also a new 10-speaker, 700-watt Sony audio system and ambient LED interior lighting with a choice of seven colors. But everything else looks awfully familiar.
Our tester was the 4x4 King Ranch edition, which, with a handful of options including 22-inch wheels, second-row bucket seats, and a DVD entertainment system, stickered at $69,780, including delivery. The King Ranch trim level delivers standard a power-folding third row, a rearview camera, heavy-duty trailer tow package, dual-zone climate control, power running boards, and of course the King Ranch's trademark brown leather seats.
It might have old bones, but the 2015 Expedition has a new heart -- the 3.5-liter version of Ford's EcoBoost V-6. The 365-hp turbocharged-six is now the sole engine available in the Expedition, replacing the sclerotic 310-hp, 5.4-liter Triton V-8. In addition to more power, the EcoBoost V-6 also delivers comfortably more torque than the Triton -- 420 lb-ft versus 365 lb-ft. The EcoBoost engine also compares favorably with the 5.3-liter V-8 in the Tahoe/Suburban and Yukon, offering 10 more horses and 37 more lb-ft of torque.
Those numbers don't tell the whole story, however. Despite a 603-pound weight penalty, the Expedition EL is a half-second quicker to 60 mph than the new Suburban, and four-tenths quicker over the quarter mile. That's due in part to the Ford's shorter rear axle ratio (the EL runs 3.73 gears compared with 3.08 gears in the Suburban), but also to the fact that the EcoBoost V-6's torque peak occurs 1850 rpm lower than the Chevy V-8's. True, the Expedition EL starts to run out of breath at the top end of the quarter mile, but in the real world, on real world roads, the Ford's more alert, responsive powertrain makes it a more enjoyable drive than the Chevy. The EL is also rated to tow 9200 pounds, compared with the 4x4 Suburban's 8000-pound rating
The Expedition EL stops, steers, and rides better than the new Suburban. The Ford's 60-0-mph stopping distance of 121 feet bests that of the Suburban by 9 feet, and its more communicative and accurate steering makes it easier to place precisely on the road. The independent rear suspension ensures the cabin is a calmer place for passengers than in the live-axle Chevy on bumpy back roads, and helps the big Expedition track better through the twisties.
As with GM's long-wheelbase SUVs, the Expedition EL is one of the few vehicles in the world capable of carrying eight adults along with most of their baggage. But while it drives better than expected, it's still obviously a stopgap model; a placeholder for Ford until an all-new Expedition -- lighter, more efficient, with more contemporary styling and a modern electrical architecture that can support advanced safety features such as automatic lane keeping -- makes its debut three or so years from now.
It's learned a few new tricks, the 2015 Expedition EL. But it's still an old dog.
View more than 40 OEM photos of the 2015 Ford Expedition on the second page of this review.
|2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch EL|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$69,780|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.5L/365-hp/420-lb-ft turbo V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||6319 lb (50/50%)|
|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)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.1 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/21 mpg|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||1.14 lb/mile|