Malamute sled Arctic outings and Bathysphere deep ocean dives denote more than a modicum of spartan endurance, strength and agility.


Excursions both on and slightly beyond the pavement demand ever more civilized conveyances. For 2018 Ford has trotted out a completely re-designed body-on-frame light truck based 3-Row sports utility vehicle.  Just how much the 2018 Ford Expedition has shed in flab and gained in agility and civility is the subject of this query.


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WHAT: 2018 Ford Expedition Limited 4×4 3- Row off-road capable, full-sized sport utility vehicle.

Std. Power: intercooled twin-turbocharged 3.5L DOHC 24V DI gas V-6 w/ idle Start/ Stop = 375 hp / 470 lb-ft @3500 rpm + 10-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle + (AVAIL.) 2-speed e-transfer case four-wheel drive + (AVAIL.) E-clutch pack limited slip differential.

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: 5th generation, code name U553, built on the current F-150 half ton pickup truck T3 hydroformed boron steel frame, adopting similar weight saving aluminum alloy body on steel frame architecture.

Belt line spanning crease melding into dual side valley hood emboldens the fenders; Full spanning upper “Bi Horizontal Bar” chainlink integrates slight wrap-around headlamps;  Incline rising lower to mid fascia imparts jutting lower chin split by simulated metallic skid plate; Belt line rises, outline by chrome band, while roof line tapers culminating into spoiler;  Darkened D-pillar emulates floating roof;  Chrome mid-liftgate bar spans into wrap around boomerang taillamps;  Lower bumper finished in matte metallic skid plate.

Optically fit, trim and expressive for such a large box.

WHY: The Blue-Oval already had superb aluminum-bodied on frame pickup donor for a much improved full-size SUV.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Summer 2017

WHERE: Ford new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.

WHERE TO: available electronically on-the-fly selectable two-speed transfer case four wheel drive; Open front & rear differential, available electronic clutch pack limited slip rear differential;  ABS Hill descent control; 5-Mode Terrain Management;  9.7″ clearance = Snow commanding, mud + sand raking & light off-roading.

HOW ROADWORTHY: Ecoboost twin turbo spools quickly off each cylinder bank wastegate; Longer accelerator travel abets a quick upshifting joint Ford-GM effort 10-speed automatic (variant of Camaro ZL-1 gearbox) limiting off the line abruptness; By 35 miles per hour the transmission has tagged 8th gear, leaving two more for tall ratio overdrives, but abruptly lay off the throttle and a honey smooth three or four gear kickdown ensues. -1 Depressing the transmission position dial = clumsy manumatic shifting.

300 lb. aluminum alloy body diet lowers the center of gravity for a reduction of understeer plow entering bends; Available electronic dampers have capability of quick compression and slower rebound, ruffling occupants more rarely, working honestly with a fully independent suspension; Electric steering assist is overboosted for enthusiasts’ tastes, requiring over-corrections in lane changes; Large disc brakes at four corners, fortified by twin piston front calipers develop linear feel but bite fades at end of pedal travel; Minimal cross wind buffeting; Road, wind and powertrain noise are rather obscured.

HOW FAR: 18 combined miles per gallon = 13% > Chevrolet Tahoe 5.3L V8

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: 7 Occupant seating = full-size 2+3+3  SUV style: Row 3 = Sufficient knee & head room for 2 adults < 5’10” & 1 juvenile; Optional 2nd Row captain chairs pare occupancy by one; Rows 1 & 2 chairs and benches are generous of width; Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade = hurts that 3rd Row headroom; Cavernous cargo hold is envied by nearly all of the competition;

Cargo Volume (max.) = 10% > Chevrolet Tahoe; 24% > Mercedes Benz GLS 450

HOW USEFUL: Comfort approach variable height power liftgate; Power flat folding 40/20/40% split 2nd Row tilt, sliding outboard seatbacks w/ twin cargo bay release latches;  Power remote cargo area 2nd & 3rd Row seat fold; +1 Flip-open liftgate window; +1 Truck size 1st & 2nd Row door pocket & center armrest space; +1 3rd Row wall storage, USB x 2; -1 Distant reach to glove box; -1 Marginal sub cargo floor storage; Tow Rating: +1 9200 lbs.

HOW SAFE: 6 airbags; NHTSA 5 Star rated; Rear camera w/ sonar front & rear audible park guidance;  Roll mitigation; AVAILABLE = Automatic high beam headlamps;  Surround view camera;  Active parallel and perpendicular park assist;

Partial Autonomy (AVAIL.):   Blind spot & lane departure warning; Rear cross traffic warning, avoidance braking; Lane keep assist;  Full adaptive cruise control partial autonomy;  Forward collision, pedestrian avoidance braking;

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY:  Power retracting running boards; Leather seating – heated Rows 1 + 2, cooled Row 1; Wide berth front buckets; 10-way power front seats, w/ 3-setting driver memory; Heated leather steering wheel with spoke integrated tactile redundant controls;  Large center console ribbed rotary metallic transmission position and Terrain Management dials;  Overhead console retracting sunglasses bin;  -1 Limited steering wheel reach adjustment; -1 Low lateral & knee front bolstering; -1 Short 2nd Row seat cushions; -1 Power liftgate switch on liftgate [rather than cargo area panel].

Cool Gizmo(s): 2nd Row remote audio controls; Panoramic glass roof; Variable color foot well, center console & door panel ambient lighting.

Details Done Right Rich imitation burl blonde cockpit woodgrain panels; Fine grained soft-material dash top;   Leather center console padding and door panels Matte aluminized trim.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Coarse grain below waist-height plastic cabin trim; -1 Steering wheel spoke controls lack tactile distinctiveness; -1 Switchgear lacks jeweled finish and premium feel.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE: Ford MyTouch Sync3 8″-inch capacitive touch LCD infotainment screen; Bluetooth & voice command hands-free communications; GPS HDD Navigation w/ 3-D map, voice guidance;  SMS text messaging; Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone overlays; 12-speaker, 1100 watt B&W Play audio shrills the highs; Sync3 Apps; USB x 6, 12V x 4, 115V AC x 1; +1 Concealed forward center console wireless device storage; +1 Extensive Sync3 voice command lexicon understands plain language.

By Subscription: Sirius XM Traffic & TravelLink apps (5 yrs. included); Wi-Fi hot spot (by Verizon Wireless);

HOW MUCH: $69,930 = 2018 Ford Expedition 4×4 Limited, as tested. -1 Similar available autonomous drive features = standard in competitors $20k compact cars.

WHAT’S MISSING: Less accelerator pedal dead spot; Steering wheel shift paddles

ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Tahoe: +1 Steering response; Mercedes Benz GLS 450: +1 CVT fuel economy, cabin fit & finish.