CHATHAM, Mass. – Sport-utility vehicles come in lots of sizes, lots of configurations, but to many, the term SUV means body-on-frame layout with a pickup truck as the foundation. In the case of the Ford Expedition, a look at its family tree would show a connection to the iconic Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck.
Evolving from America’s most popular vehicle provides the Expedition with solid, rugged credentials, a condition immediately evident as soon as I strapped on the seatbelt and fired up the twin-turbocharged V6 in the two-wheel-drive (4×2) 2023 Ford Expedition Limited with Stealth Performance package.
SUV-designed platform for comfort without sacrificing utility
Unlike its pickup-truck parent, the Expedition features a four-wheel independent suspension system. The setup in the front is short- and long-arm, coil-over-shocks with stabilizer bar, while the one in the rear it consists of multi-link with stabilizer bar. The shock absorbers are gas charged. All of which, in the Stealth Performance version, are tuned for a bit more sporting feel (but do not confuse this large vehicle — the Expedition fits into the large/full-size-SUV segment and drives like one; this is no sports car and does not want to be one.)
The suspension provides a surprising supple ride, especially for a truck (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies it as one) with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of more than 12,000 pounds..
The Stealth Performance package brings 22-inch black-painted aluminum wheels shod with P285/45R22 all-season (A/S) BSW Tires. And adding a bit of color, the calipers peeking through the black-wheel spokes are painted red.
Giving the Expedition an EcoBoost® for power and economy
All versions of the 2023 Expedition feature a 3.5-liter 60° V6 gasoline-fueled engine with twin turbochargers, double overhead camshafts (DOHC), direct injection and variable-valve timing. In the Stealth Performance version this powerplant is tuned to produce 440 horsepower and 510 pounds-feet of torque, significantly more than many of its V8-powered competitors.
Expedition 4x2s, like the one I drove, have a maximum towing capability of 9,300 pounds, again, significantly more than its primary competitor.
A 10-speed automatic transmission operated by a console-mounted rotary dial (supplemented by manual steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters) and 3.73 non-limited-slip rear axle help channel the power of the EcoBoost engine.
This power, always there when I wanted and needed it, is capable of propelling the 5,800-pound-plus eight-passenger machine from 0-60 miles per hour in just over five seconds (according to Car and Driver magazine).
As I mentioned this is a big, powerful and not particularly aerodynamic vehicle, yet even with my heavy foot, the 2023 Expedition Limited Stealth Performance 4×2 returned more than 20 miles per gallon (the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates it 17mpg overall, 15 urban and 19 highway).
Complete set of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)
Ford claims the Expedition “brings the most available Driver-Assist Technology features in its class.” Regardless, if this claim is true or not, the ADAS list is long and starts with Ford Co-Pilot360™ Assist+:
– Intelligent adaptive cruise control with Stop-and-Go
– Lane-centering assist
– Speed-sign recognition
– Intersection assist
– Front/rear parking sensors
– Pre-collision assist with autonomous-emergency braking (AEB)
– Blind-spot assist/warning
– Pedestrian detection
– Forward-collision warning
– Reverse-brake assist
– 360° camera with split view and front/rear washer
– Active-park assist 2.0
– Dynamic-brake support
– Rain-sensing wipers
All of these features makes piloting the 210-inch long, 93.4-inch wide (including mirrors), SUV along the tight streets of Cape Cod much more reassuring.
Cavernous interior space
I will say it again – the Expedition is a large SUV. It easily handles eight occupants and their stuff within its three rows and storage areas. It virtually swallows them!
Within the cavernous interior are premium and technology features galore. The seats are leather covered with heating for the front and outer-two middle-row occupants. The front seats also feature power adjustment, ventilation and lumbar support (with the driver’s adding two-person memory). The second row is power operated as are the third-row headrests which can be lowered by the driver.
Further easing virtually any size driver’s ability to find a suitable driving position, both the steering wheel and accelerator/brake pedals are (electrically) adjustable, with their positions also stored within the memory system.
The instrument cluster is a configurable LCD display, but it is the 15.5-inch LCD tablet-oriented (vertical orientation) included with the optional ($795) Sync4A infotainment system which dominates the interior.
The Sync4A system includes navigation with pinch-to-zoom capability, live traffic, predictive destinations and route guidance. Wireless Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and 12-speaker (including subwoofer) B&O® sound system by Bang & Olufsen®.
The automatic climate-control system has three-zones, with complete rear-cabin controls located both in the dashboard as well as at the rear of the console (accessible to occupants of the second row).
A large center console, two dashboard-mounted glove boxes, large door pockets, numerous cup and bottle holders, as well as other cubbies, nooks and crannies provide lots of interior storage space.
The bottom line
The price of admission into the full-size SUV segment is not for the faint of heart or limited pocketbook. The 12-members (six trim levels, each available in two- or four-wheel drive) of the Expedition range opens at $55,125 for the XL SXT 4×2 and tops out at $83,615 for the comprehensively equipped Platinum 4×4. And this does not even cover the Expedition Max versions which are some 12-inches longer than the standard ones.
The Expedition Limited Stealth Performance 4×2 I sampled carried a $81,670 price including options ($11,170) and fees ($2,440); a lot of money, but a lot of vehicle. This is a very competitive and desirable vehicle if you are shopping for a large SUV. It is capable, efficient and very reasonable as a driving machine.