2016 Ford Expedition EL
The Expedition EL (Extended Length) is the largest SUV in Ford's lineup. Although it features an old-fashioned body-on-frame architecture that makes it heavier, thirstier and less agile on the pavement than most crossovers, it also boasts towing and off-road abilities that more efficient unibody crossovers can only dream of.
Ford also offers a shorter variant of the Expedition EL called simply Expedition. It is nearly identical to the EL but it features a shorter rear overhang, a shorter wheelbase and less cargo capacity.
Closely following the auto industry's downsizing trend, the Expedition recently gained a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that replaces the outgoing model's 5.4-liter V8. The new engine is accompanied by a redesigned front end and a modestly updated rear end.
Ford also created a range-topping trim level called Platinum.
It may be an anachronism, a throwback to a bygone era when gas was cheap and consumers were in deeply in love with truck-based SUVs, but the aging Ford Expedition still has plenty to offer buyers in need of an eight-passenger 'ute that can handle serious trailering duties.
Power for the Expedition comes from a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6 engine that makes 365 horsepower at 5,000 rpms and 420 lb-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpms. The Expedition can tow up to 9,200 pounds when properly equipped, a figure that matches the towing capacity of the outgoing V8-powered model.
Power is sent to either the rear wheels or all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Despite its archaic body-on-frame construction, the Expedition boasts a modern independent rear suspension in place of the live axle utilized by many rivals. In exchange for slightly decreased off-roading capabilities, this feature allows for a flatter rear seat/cargo area and more interior space. It also enhances on-road handling, which is safe and predictable but not exactly agile.
Inside, the Expedition boasts a sizable and comfortable cabin, although some of the materials feel a bit low-rent. Cargo room is a staggering 42.6 cubic feet, increasing to a gargantuan 85.5 cubic feet with the 3rd row seats folded and 130.8 cubes with only the first row upright.
The interior's party trick is an available first-in-class PowerFold third-row seat and class-exclusive second-row CenterSlide that combine to allow interior space to be configured as needed quickly and painlessly. Without the option, the seat also folds into the floor, though manually.
Select trim levels can be ordered with SYNC, Ford's Bluetooth-based connectivity system that allows smartphone users to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. SYNC can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road, and allows the use of Ford-approved apps like The Wall Street Journal news and Pandora radio.
The Expedition can be spec'd with MyFord Touch, an infotainment system that builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyFord Touch also replaces conventional sound system knobs and buttons with a center-mounted eight-inch touch screen, dual 4.2-inch displays in the instrument cluster and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Expedition is available in XL, XLT, Limited, King Ranch and Platinum trim levels.
The XL trim level comes standard with remote keyless entry, puddle lights integrated into the door mirrors, tinted windows, fog lights, automatic headlights, cloth upholstery, a six-way adjustable power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, SiriusXM Satellite radio with six speakers, cruise control, a rear-view camera, a roof rack, skid plates and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Stepping up to the XLT brings a 4.2-inch touch screen that runs Ford's SYNC connectivity system, power-adjustable pedals, a multi-function steering wheel, a single-zone electronic climate control system, rear parking sensors, body-colored lower exterior moldings and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
The next rung up in the ladder is the Limited, which adds halogen headlights, body-colored running boards, leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a power-tilt steering wheel, a 12-speaker Sony stereo system, a dual-zone electronic climate control system, front parking sensors, remote start, a power liftgate, an eight-inch touch screen in the center stack that runs Ford's MyFordTouch infotainment system, a PowerFold third-row seat, rain-sensing wipers and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Limited models also come with a Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package that adds a class IV hitch, a wiring harness with four- and seven-pin connectors, a heavy-duty transmission oil cooler and a heavy duty radiator.
King Ranch models up the ante with model-specific trim inside and out, 20-inch machined-aluminum wheels, door mirrors that are both heated and auto-dimming, wood trim on the dashboard, a navigation system with a voice command function and a blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert.
Finally, the range-topping Platinum trim level boasts all of the aforementioned features plus 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, a moonroof, power-folding polished running boards, micro-perforated leather upholstery with Double French stitching and Tuxedo stripes and chrome accents on the dashboard.
The list of options includes power-folding running boards, a power moonroof, a navigation system, bucket seats for the second-row passengers, 22-inch alloy wheels and a rear-seat entertainment system with a DVD player. Additionally, buyers can order the expedition with Ford's Continuously Controlled Damping system.
All Expedition models come with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, Ford's Roll Stability Control system and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
The Expedition EL's most direct competition comes from the similarly massive Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins, although it can also be cross-shopped against smaller 'utes like the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.