The hulking behemoths of the SUV world are as competitive as any segment can be, and just because these 7-8 passenger vehicles are big doesn't mean they can't be truly enjoyable as transportation. It was high time Ford needed to redo its big Expedition, and that they did for the 2018 model year but with more than pretty much anyone ever expected. From posh interior appointments to cavernous capacity to excellent driving dynamics and serious power, the Ford Expedition earned our 2018 SUV of the year.
The Expedition is the more modest sibling of the new Lincoln Navigator. Unlike the Navigator, the exterior of the Expedition is more humble but no less attractive. The full width of the fascia is occupied by big headlight clusters and large five-bar grille that has presence without being garish. A single body crease extends from the front quarter panel all the way to the taillight.
What little chrome exists on the sides of the Expedition stays with tastefully thin door handles, and that's about it. The roof slopes ever so slightly, and the C-pillar is nicely angled giving the Expedition a mildly sporty appearance in profile. The style lacks pretense but communicates a sophistication not seen on the model during its history.
If you take a look at the last Expedition, you'll notice how far the 2018 styling changes. Whereas the last Expedition started looking a bit too busy in the fascia with thick upper and lower grille bars, and a center section of the hood rising all too high compared to the hood's flanks. Frankly, the old Expedition wore a bit of sad expression from the front view, but the new Expedition is bold but refined. The hood creases are prominent but not as drastic as the last Expedition's, and even the side mirrors have matured from chrome to body colored versions.
Step inside, and you're easily in Ford's best interior. The huge front seats not only look the part of comfy family hauler, but they're also very well bolstered, as well as cushioned. The leather even quality rivals the F-150 King Ranch for suppleness and comfort. Ford took the time to make their biggest SUV (there's even an Expedition MAX for even more room) a wonderful place to spend time. Long trips are no problem, and everything's within easy reach and designed to keep distractions to a minimum.
The Expedition also has excellent sound-deadening for quiet commutes and hushed road trips. Use the top-notch SYNC3 infotainment system that responds quickly and is visually easy to read, and your distractions are minimized. Even the center stack has well laid out buttons and large grippy knobs for easy control of HVAC, audio, and infotainment. The Expedition's customizable gauge cluster is marvelous, as well. All the info you need to access is visible front and center, and the backlighting, font, and layout make it as quick and easy to read.
Storage space is plentiful with deep compartments and easy access. The cargo section is cavernous and can hold all the bags and sports equipment your family needs. With the seats in place, there's a very practical 20.9 cubic feet behind the back row, and a whopping 104.6 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. That's enough for just about any road trip. The load floor is completely flat and very wide, making large item storage a breeze.
When it comes to rear occupants, the middle positions in the second and third rows are actually comfortable, too, an uncommon find in this segment or any segment, for that matter. The second row of the Expedition has a completely flat floor, so the middle passenger has space galore. Even tall adults can get in the back row and sit comfortably, not something you can say for most three-row SUVs.
The driving is the part that blew us away the most. Not only is the EcoBoost V6 engine option responsive, but it also moves this large SUV with alacrity. 0-60 comes in a sports car-like 6 seconds. The steering is sharp, to the point of being pleasant, rather than the numb setups of so many SUVs. It also manages its weight remarkably well in the turns. All this while maintaining tremendous interior quietness and superb shock absorption and ride comfort. It's a limousine without looking like one. It's hard to imagine any vehicle this large that drives and rides so well.
There are some really great full-size SUVs out there, but the new Ford Expedition truly stands apart. The Nissan Armada is wonderful but lacks the space and the technology of the Expedition. The Volkswagen Atlas isn't as luxurious or powerful, and even the fancy Infiniti QX80 seems dated by comparison.
Only the Expedition does everything so incredibly well thanks to its space, driving dynamics, styling, technology, and power. These are just some of the many reasons why the Expedition is our SUV of choice for 2018. For a brand that's seen a lot of drama over the course of this past year, this is a home run.