It’s been over a decade and finally an all-new version of the Ford Expedition has arrived. But has it been worth the wait?
Here is the 2018 Ford Expedition and while you are perhaps unable to gather from the photos, it’s really, really big. And I mean post code-straddling big. In fact, this fourth generation model is about four inches longer than the car it replaces and about six inches longer than the Chevrolet Tahoe, which means it is no diminutive wallflower. It also has a smack-bang-in-your-face grille that, in the fine tradition of American truckin’, comes with lashings of chrome and brazen design details. So, it’s still a large brash seven-seater Yank Tank, but a lot has changed in areas that are not readily apparent at first glance.
But let’s start from the beginning. The Expedition nameplate has been trundling along for a while, with the previous model essentially an iteration of the version that came out in the 2000s. Ford has been fettling it over the years, and with the last update in 2015 they added a 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 – a first in the segment reigned by the likes of Tahoe with its thumping big, coal-burning V8. In fact, this is the first truly all-new Expedition in over a decade.
Changes in the 2018 Ford Expedition are wholesale — Ford really has modernised it, but within reason so as to not alienate its core audience in the States that likely view ‘aluminum’ as a wimpy material. While it still retains the steel structure of its forebears, there are, whisper it, plenty of aluminium body panels that cut mass in our Platinum edition tester over its predecessor. That said it is still a heavy old thing crushing the scales at over two and a half tonnes, and specced like for like, it is nearly 45kg heavier than a GMC Yukon Denali.
There is some good news when it comes to the interior. The leather is supple, the plastics are largely of decent variety, but premium they are not. Generally speaking though everything is stitched, stuck and sown together well. It’s no European SUV in there and that’s just as well, because it still feels passionately American in its design and execution. By which I mean everything is a bit oversized. And that’s no bad thing. Due to its immensity there is enough room for adults in all three rows, which is not something that can be said of its main competitors.
The seats are large and comfy and there is plenty of kit with the now much improved Sync 3 system with Apple CarPlay and a host of electronic aids such as adaptive cruise control, stop-and-go functionality as well as collision warning with brake support. The original Sync was cack-handed and felt like it was constantly trying to catch up with user inputs and failing, but it is third time lucky for Ford with the new Sync. It is way slicker than before, although I still do not find it the easiest to use.
The engine is where the 2018 Ford Expedition really shines. In Platinum trim, the force-fed V6 develops 400 horsepower and 650Nm of torque. Bolted to the new 10-speed auto, the engine is deliciously torquey and acceleration is surprisingly vivid despite the girth of the car. Overtaking manoeuvres are despatched with ease and there isn’t a lack of power for most everyday applications.
The balance of ride quality and handling is well thought out too. It doesn’t judder over speed humps or scrape its wing mirrors in the corners; it is a serene place to be on a cruise, but you are always mindful of its humongous proportions around town.
So, this is the first all-new Expedition in over a decade and the big question is: has it been worth the wait. And the answer is no. Sure, it’s a great family SUV and it does have some nifty features that make it stand our amongst its compatriot offerings. However, it is also priced at nearly AED300,000 in our tester’s fully-specced Platinum guise. That is a lot of money for a Ford, no matter how well equipped or good to drive.
Essentially what that means is that if you are willing to forego the two extra seats, the same money will buy you a decently-equipped Audi Q7, or if you really do need the additional room then what’s wrong with the new Lincoln Navigator for about the same price?
2018 Ford Expedition Platinum
3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 | 10-speed automatic, all-wheel drive | 400bhp @ 5,000rpm and 650Nm of torque @ 3,250rpm | 0-100km/h and top speed NA | AED299,000 (as tested)