While General Motors dominates the full-size SUV segment with highly polished gems, Ford has been less than enthusiastic about spending precious resources on its full-size SUVs — namely, the Expedition. It simply had to age gracefully while the team in Dearborn, Michigan rolled out hybrids, electric cars, and popular crossovers. It’s far from all-new, but the Expedition goes in for a substantial nip, tuck, and heart transplant.
Check out our King Ranch edition, looking like it rose up out of Texas prairie ready for the rodeo. For a decade and a half, Ford has partnered with Texas’ ginormous King Ranch to imbue its luxury models with saddle leather interiors, deep woodgrain, paint hues inspired by open land, and all of the amenities a Dallas businessman could want. If Bobby Ewing had an automotive alter ego, this would be his horse and rope.
Expedition definitely has a family look with its shiny face, chiseled headlamps, raised hood, and wrap-around rear glass. Our King Ranch put on bronze fire metallic paint and monochrome trim. Look close and you’ll notice an updated front design with bolder chrome grille, halogen projector headlamps, and LED fog lamps. Larger 22” wheels with King Ranch logo, chrome exhaust outlets, and re-styled hatch finish the finessing.
Just the smell of leather makes you want to move inside. You’ll sneak in to touch, pet, and lick it. Just don’t tap all of the hard plastic. Three rows of seats allow the entire clan to join the festival. Heated/cooled front seats and heated middle-row seats take the sting out of extreme weather, but spoiled drivers will miss a heated steering wheel. Crisp Sony audio, navigation, voice-activated infotainment, power running boards, and power-fold third-row seat add pleasure and convenience.
Saddle up the Expedition and head for open road. For 2015, all North American Expeditions are driven by Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost (turbocharged) V6 that delivers a potent 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque – enough to tow 9,200 lbs. when properly equipped. Use the six-speed automatic with manual shift mode for quick get-aways and easy towing. Clearly not one of Ford’s hybrids, the SUV manages just 15/20-MPG city/hwy.
You’d think given the Expedition’s independent rear suspension that it would out-handle and out-smooth any competitor, but it doesn’t. Even with the continuously-adjusting suspension, ride is not stellar. Go bucking across unpaved fields and you’ll think you bought an F-150 pickup – not bad, but not quite up to luxury SUV standards.
That said; if you want a three-row SUV that drives like a car, buy the Explorer crossover. The Expedition is a real truck, capable of doing things only a real truck can. It just happens to seat eight in supreme comfort.
Judging by sales numbers, it would appear competitors like the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon have the Expedition on the ropes, but the GM team may get a surprise. The 2015 Expedition King Ranch is clearly not all-new, but it is new enough to keep it competitive and win some new friends – even better if those friends own vast expanses of land. The Expedition starts at $43,845, but came to $64,280 with the whole ranch.
2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch
Eight-passenger, 4WD SUV
Powertrain: 365hp 3.5-liter turbo V6, 6-spd auto trans
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels: 22”/22” alloy f/r
Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr
Must-have features: Interior, powertrain
Towing: 9,200 lbs.
Fuel economy: 15/20 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Louisville, KY
Base/as-tested price: $43,845/64,280