The Ford Expedition is a truck and it doesn't pretend to be anything else. This is a good identity to have, because Ford trucks continue to have an outstanding reputation for utility, reliability and durability.
Both the long and regular-length versions of the Expedition use many of the components from the Ford F-150 pickup. However, the Expedition features independent rear suspension, which improves driving precision, ride comfort, and rear-seat roominess.
This third-generation Expedition features a three-bar grille, large headlights, and a domed hood that combine to deliver a look that's both distinctive and respectable. There are several different wheel designs, including 20-inchers with a chrome finish.
Expedition EL models stretch the wheelbase to 131 inches. Overall, the EL measures 14.8 inches longer than the standard Expedition, and that adds 22 cubic feet of cargo volume. Expedition offers 108.3 cubic feet of cargo space, while the EL delivers 130.8 cubic feet.
The Expedition and the Expedition EL are big vehicles, measuring more than 17 feet from nose to tail. As a result, crowded parking lots can be challenging. The Expedition has a turning circle of nearly 41 feet, while the EL requires 44 feet.
They're also heavy, as even the base 2WD Expedition weighs almost 6,000 pounds, and a loaded EL with 4WD will be comfortably over that.
The King Ranch model can be identified by its gold exterior accents and unique wheel design.
The Expedition comes with running boards as standard equipment. Power retractable running boards that deploy when the doors are opened are optional. Some prefer no running boards, but that doesn't appear to be an option.
The Ford Expedition features a rich blend of finishes, textures and color. Indeed, a King Ranch is the best representation of modern American-style luxury within Ford's lineup. Wood, chrome and leather make the Expedition an inviting place to spend a day on the road. The layout of the gauges and controls is easy to understand and no controls are too far out of easy reach.
Captain's chairs with movable armrests are standard across the four model lines. Leather-upholstered examples are available with a heating/cooling feature that makes them a more comfortable companion in winter and summer. Generous driver's-seat travel helps accommodate taller drivers, and it's a perfect match for the Expedition's movable pedals, so a wide range of sizes of drivers can sit comfortably.
The second seating row reflects Ford's thoughtful approach to passenger comfort: the standard 40/20/40 bench seat incorporates a center section that slides, bringing a child seat within easier reach of front-seat passengers. Optional second-row captain's chairs with a center-aisle pass-through can be substituted for adult-rated comfort.
Packaging advantages afforded by the Expedition's independent rear suspension enable the third-row seat to deliver more comfort for adults compared to the accommodations provided by the Chevy Tahoe. In fact, third-row room is among the best of any SUV, though three adults won't want to sit in the back for long. The high ride height also makes getting in and out a task for children.
The Expedition's liftgate with its flip-up glass hatch makes access to the cargo area very easy. The Expedition's second- and third-row bench-type seats fold flat into the cargo floor, affording a long cargo area that can be easily loaded. This means you don't have to unbolt the passenger seats and leave them on the floor of your garage every time you're making a serious run to the home improvement store. In this regard, the Expedition is much better designed than GM's large SUVs. The Expedition is also available with an optional power-folding third-row seat and electronically powered liftgate to make it even easier to load cargo. However, the seat cushions of the second- and third-row seats are a little slim in order to allow the seats to fold properly.
The Expedition is about more than convenience. A DVD-based navigation system with sizable 6.5-inch screen is available as an option. The rear-seat DVD entertainment system has an eight-inch screen that flips down from the headliner and also includes two sets of wireless headphones. A plug-in jack for an MP3 player is standard across the line. The Expedition is even a nice place to be when all the entertainment is switched off, as the combination of thick glass and a generous amount of acoustic insulation behind the dash and on the floor makes this a remarkably quiet interior; it's actually possible to have a conversation with the people in the third-row seat while you're at the wheel.
Ford's rear backup camera is less impressive than many others. The image is shown in the rear-view mirror, and is quite small. While the image is useful, obstacles are not as easy to spot as they are in systems that show their images on six- or seven-inch dash-mounted screens.