There’s a new Expedition, there’s a new Expedition! Did you know that the first generation of the Ford Expedition debuted way back in 1997? That’s over 20 years ago, trust me I was there, I remember. Version 1.0 was known within Ford as “UN93”, which sounds like a United Nations resolution, and replaced the Ford Bronco. Sharing a platform with the F-150 and Lincoln Navigator (and the Blackwood, remember that?) it had optional 3-row seating and standard V8 power. It was basically the SUV version of the F-150 and by the time it was replaced with a new version for 2003, it was selling very well. Ford sold over 160,000 Expeditions in the U.S. in 2002. That continued to rise in 2003 with over 180,000 sold.
So the Expedition is old enough to legally drink this year. And what a great way to celebrate than with a new iteration. The fourth generation Expedition, internally known as U553, which sounds like a Germany submarine (something, something, German World Cup Team joke), started production on 25 September 2017 for the 2018 model year. That’s also my birthday if you’re looking to mark your calendar. We got a chance to spend a week with the Fords newest and biggest SUV, in top grade Platinum trim, and here’s what we found.
The Expedition has always been what I would consider a decent looking SUV. Nothing groundbreaking, but nothing offensive. Still, looking across the generations, you could safely state that its looks have improved over time. They have also separated themselves intrinsically from those of the F-150. I can confidently state that the newest generation is damn near attractive, and at worst pretty handsome. And not in the way your Mom thinks you are handsome, like for real.
From the front, the big SUV is fairly typical Ford. It has a big, menacing grill, which if I’m honest is the only weak point aesthetically. It’s a little too busy with intersecting bits of chrome and black trim. There’s just a lot going on there. The rest is pretty chiseled, with standard LED headlights and fog lights on our tester (optional on lesser Expeditions) and a pretty upscale look.
My favorite bits are the profile and rear segments. Much like the latest Tahoe and Yukon, the Expedition is a very angular and clean design. Gone are the jellybean looks of the first generation, the new iteration looks even more expensive than it is. More on that in a bit.
As good as the outside looks, the interior of the U553 is pretty spectacular. At least it is pretty fantastic in Platinum trim anyway; they always send us the best stuff to review. Heated and ventilated buckets seats are pretty standard fare these days. What was once only available in high end luxury vehicles has trickled down to much less expensive stuff. Not that the Expedition Platinum is really “less expensive” (again more on that soon, it’s coming) but compared to a six figure German sedan, it’s pretty cheap.
What really separates the from the Expedition from the competition is the fact that the front seats are also give you a massage. And not one of those quick half-assed middle-of-the-mall massages. Like a real, OMG that is amazing, massage. It lasts 20 minutes or so, and on a long drive, I found myself re-activating it. Over. And. Over. Want that in a big GM SUV? It appears that you have to bump up to the $91,090 Cadillac Escalade Platinum.
The rest of the interior is pretty much what you would expect from a nicely equipped big 3-row Ford SUV. It’s a perfect road trip vehicle for the family. Assuming you hate minivans.
The Expedition gets Ford’s ubiquitous 3.5L EcoBoost with a 10 speed automatic. It drives like a massive SUV, but the turbo 6 can really get the thing moving. You’ll have plenty of power and torques to get up to speed or tow your boat. Or RV. Or jet skis. Whatever.
And the 3.5L gets 17/24 on the city and highway respectively. For something this size, that’s pretty momentous. So in the grand scheme of SUVs, it’s pretty practical. That’s as good, or better, than my JK Wrangler. But I suppose that’s shaped like a brick.
The full size SUV market is red hot, or is it white hot? I think that’s hotter. Nevertheless, Ford has been due for a big upgrade on their biggest SUV for some time and they did not disappoint. It does just about everything well, except be small. And you don’t shop for large SUVs because you want small or light, do you? No, if you want big, capable, and comfortable, this is one of the best I’ve come across.
Oh right, the price. I almost forgot. $73,030. That’s where the Platinum Expedition starts, and that’s a lot of vehicle for the price. With out-there features like massaging seats, there is a lot to love. I kind of want one now.