2019 Ford Expedition Buying Advice
This is the best big SUV for you if you want the capability of a full-size pickup truck and the road manners of a midsize crossover.
Expedition is Ford’s flagship SUV. It uses traditional truck-type body-on-frame construction, borrowing some of its underskin engineering from the best-selling vehicle on the planet, the Ford F-150. It offers regular-length and extended-length body styles, both of which accommodate up to eight passengers on three seating rows.
The extended model is called the Expedition Max and it’s 9 inches longer in wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) than the regular-length Expedition and a foot longer overall. General Motors plays the same tune, with the “regular length” Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon and their extended-length siblings, the Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. (Note that Expedition, in both lengths, forms the basis for the more expensive Lincoln Navigator, just as GM bases the Cadillac Escalade on its more prosaic full-size SUVs.)
Last redesigned for model-year 2018, today’s model represents the fourth Expedition design generation. The previous generation spanned model years 2006-2017 with no major updates. Ford officials tacitly admit that was too long. It contributed to the rival GM brands dominance of the segment, at nearly 70 of sales – even though the older Expedition was a superior vehicle in many ways.
Bucking the norm in which big SUVs use V-8 engines, the current Expedition relies on an overachieving twin-turbo V-6 and improves on its predecessors in every way. In a competitive set that also includes the Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia, it’s our pick for the best all-around full-size SUV — at least until the fully redesigned GM rivals arrive for model-year 2021.
Should you buy a 2019 model or wait for the 2020?
Buy a 2019. The 2020 Expedition is likely to carryover with nothing more than minor feature changes, although it’s almost certain to cost more.
For 2019, both Expedition lengths return in XLT, Limited, and Platinum trims. The regular-length version also comes in an entry-level XL grade for fleet rather than retail sale. All offer a choice of rear-wheel drive or full-time four-wheel drive (4WD) that can be left engaged on dry pavement and includes low-range gearing suited to off-road use. All ’19 Expeditions have a 10-speed automatic transmission.
ChangesStyling: Expedition was redone from the ground up for model-year 2018, but you could be forgiven for thinking that its exterior design was only mildly refreshed. Essentially, stylists rounded out most of the previous-generation’s sharp edges, although the regular-length body gained 3.5 inches of wheelbase. This Ford doesn’t have the overwhelming presence of a GMC Yukon, but its understated design is handsome in its own right.
The fourth-gen interior saw more dramatic changes in design and materials. Instruments and controls mimic those of the F-150. This means an available gauge cluster with a center screen that can be customized to show a wide variety of data points. The standard infotainment system employs Ford’s highly responsive Sync 3 interface along with support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. The 8-inch touchscreen is enough to perform all tasks, but it looks a little small on the expansive dashboard. The graphics could also use a bump in resolution. Climate controls are logically arranged beneath the screen, but the buttons are on the small side, requiring a slightly longer look away from the road than we would like.
That’s the extent of our gripes with the Expedition’s cabin. The seats are supremely comfortable with a wide variety of adjustments, especially if you get the available power pedals and power tilt and telescopic steering column to fine-tune your driving position.
The second and third rows are where Expedition truly shines. There’s plenty of headroom and legroom in the second row, with the available captain’s chairs offering first-class accommodations. The third row tops the segment for space and comfort. There’s as much legroom in the third row of an Expedition as in the second row of Ford’s Escape compact crossover. Access is easy, even for adults, and outboard passengers get their own USB charging points.
Cargo capacity is excellent, too. Standard-length models can carry up to 19.3 cubic behind the third row, 57.5 behind the second, and 104.6 behind the third. Max versions increase volume to 34.3, 73.3, and 121.5 cubic feet, respectively. These volumes complement in-cabin storage that consists of dual gloveboxes, a huge center console, and wide/deep door pockets.
Mechanical: As part of its 2018 redesign, Ford eschewed the outgoing Expedition’s V-8 engine in favor of a 3.5-liter twin turbocharged V-6 from its EcoBoost engine family. The same 3.5 found in some versions of the F-150, here it produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, upping that to 400 horsepower and 480 pound-feet in Platinum models. (In the Navigator, the same engine makes 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque.)
In terms of everyday drivability, there’s little difference between Expedition’s two states of tune. Floor any model from a stop and, after a very slight delay for the turbos to spool up, you rocket forward with all the gusto of a V-8. Additional credit goes to the slick 10-speed automatic transmission. The only time you feel it change gears is if you need more power when merging or passing at highway speeds.
Expedition also impresses for handling: stable and confident on the open road, abetted by steering that delivers good feel for such a large vehicle. Even the Max drives as if it were a smaller vehicle, which says a lot, considering its 18-1/2-feet-long, 6.3-feet tall, and approaches 5,800 pounds in 4WD form.
Unlike its General Motors rivals — which until the 2021 redesign, will still have an outdated solid rear axle — the Expedition has not only an independent suspension setup in front, but in the rear, too. This contributes to a surprisingly smooth ride, despite body-on-frame construction and the 22-inch wheels that included on our Platinum Max review sample. Ride quality gets progressively more compliant with the 20-inch wheels standard on the Limited and the 18s on the XLT.Features: XLT grades come with most features you would expect in an entry-level large SUV. Some of its standout amenities include a power driver’s seat, power fold-flat third-row seats, a cargo management system, capless fuel filler, keyless access with pushbutton ignition, and power-adjustable pedals.
The Limited adds 20-inch wheels, FordPass Connect telematics with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot capability, power-retractable running boards, hands-free power rear liftgate, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats with 10-way power adjustment, heated outboard second-row seats, heated steering wheel, three-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio receiver, upgraded B&O Play audio system, wireless smartphone charging, remote engine start, blind-spot alert, and front-obstacle detection.
Moving to the Platinum nets the 400-horsepower engine, 22-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, adaptive radar cruise control that can maintain a set following distance from traffic ahead, hands-free parallel park assist, lane-departure warning with automatic steering correction, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, massaging front seats, and surround-view camera.
Expedition is priced competitively with the Tahoe and Suburban, while the GMC Yukon is slightly more expensive – until you reach Expedition’s Platinum level, which lists for several thousand more than even the most expensive Yukon Denali XL. Base prices here include Ford’s $1,295 destination fee. To these base prices, add $3,120-$3,150 for 4WD, depending on trim-level selection.
Standard-length versions of the 2019 Ford Expedition with rear-wheel drive start at $53,425 for the XLT, $64,310 for the Limited, and $74,660 for the Platinum. Expedition Max models are priced from $56,110 for the XLT, $67,000 for the Limited, and $77,355 for the Platinum.
Among options for the XLT are Package 201A ($1,485), which adds leather upholstery, power front seats, and heated exterior mirrors. The $5,605 Package 202A adds most of the amenities that are standard on the Limited.
The $715 Driver Assistance Package, available on the XLT and Limited, includes a full complement of driver-assistance features: radar cruise control, lane-departure warning with automatic steering correction, automatic high-bream headlight control, forward-collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection. The FX4 Off-Road Package ($1,650) adds running boards, underbody skid plates, upgraded shock absorbers, and a heavy-duty radiator. Imbedded GPS navigation is $740.
The Driver Assistance Package is included on three option packages available for the Limited. The $3,030 301A Package also adds the panoramic sunroof and imbedded navigation. The $6,440 302A Package has all this plus 22-inch wheels, adaptive suspension damping, and hands-free parallel parking assist. Topping the range is the $7,540 303A Package, which adds gloss black exterior trim and wheels, LED headlights, and surround camera.
Additional cargo management features, 22-inch wheels, the FX4 Off-Road Package, and surround camera are available in a bundle called the Special Edition Package (Texas Edition Package in the Lone Star State). It costs $3,955.
Available on all models are a dual-screen rear entertainment system for $1,995 and a heavy-duty trailering package for $1,570.
It’s costly, but our pick for best value is a 4WD Limited with the 301A option package, which will carry a sticker price of $70,465 for the standard-length body style and $73,150 for the Max. A loaded Platinum Max can set you back upwards of $85,000, which puts the Expedition in premium-brand territory. At that point, you might as well spend an extra $5,000-$10,000 to get a Lincoln Navigator, which has more ornate styling and substantially more opulent interior.
Regrettably, Ford’s decision to forego a V-8 in favor of this twin-turbocharged V-6 doesn’t pay dividends in EPA ratings or in real-world fuel economy.
The EPA rates standard-length Expedition models at 17/24/20 mpg city/highway/combined with rear-wheel drive and 17/22/19 with 4WD. Larger and heavier Max models rate 17/23/19 with rear drive and 16/21/18 with 4WD. That’s less than some versions of the V-8 Tahoe and Suburban.
Our 4WD Platinum Max returned a disappointing 16.9 mpg in our suburban test loop. All models can use regular-grade 87-octane gasoline, but Ford recommends 93-octane premium to achieve maximum performance in the Platinum.
Probably not a whole lot. Ford is focusing its energy on other truck and SUV products in the near-term. On the pickup side, the midsize Ranger will be arriving in early-calendar 2019, followed by a refreshed F-Series Super Duty. The company is targeting calendar 2020 for a redesigned F-150, which will include a new gas/electric hybrid drivetrain option. Model-year 2020 will also see the debut of redesigned Escape and Explorer crossovers, followed by the highly anticipated return of the Bronco SUV. Any major updates to the Expedition are unlikely before model-year 2021.