I’ve criticized people who buy full-size sport utility vehicles for their facade of safety and security as being the same people who live in gated communities because they think a fence with a gate might deter a thief, when what it actually does is scream, “I have valuable stuff here!”
“Gated communities on wheels,” I once wrote of the big SUVs with their inferior vehicle dynamics, including longer stopping distances and higher centers of gravity which make rolling over in an emergency maneuver more likely.
However, there are people who actually do need such vehicles. They are people with large families and, in some cases, people who need to tow a big trailer.
The 2015 Ford Expedition, especially in its high-spec Platinum-trim version like the one I’ve been driving for a week, seats eight people in leathery comfort and can tow 9,200 pounds of trailer and horses or boat or travel-trailer (ungated) home on wheels.
Oh, and if you don’t need the third row for people, you can push a button and the seats fold flat into the cargo floor, which expands from 18.6 cubic feet with that third-row seat upright to 55.0 with the seat folded — and on to 108.3 should you also fold the second row out of the way.
And if that’s not room enough for you, there’s an XL version that’s even longer and offers 42.6 cubic feet of cargo room even with the third row upright.
The 2015 Ford Expedition I’ve been driving has rear-wheel drive, but a 4×4 version is available for those living in the snowbelt instead of the sunbelt.
Ford launched its ginormous Expedition model in 1996. For 2015, it carries yet another of Ford’s EcoBoosted V6 engines, a 3.5-liter unit spinning out 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Highway fuel economy is 22 mpg and it is rated at 16 in city driving, but considering the size and mass of this thing, and what it’s capable of carrying — or towing —those numbers are very impressive.
Again, this is not a vehicle for everyone to buy just because they think they look safe and secure way up there above the traffic. This is a vehicle that should be purchased because you need it, not because you want it.
While the Expedition shares its powertrain with the F-150, it is the first Ford vehicle to come with continuously controlled damping suspension with the driver able to select comfort, normal and sport ride quality as needed. Forty-six sensors, Ford explains, continually monitor body, steering and braking inputs and can optimize the suspension automatically to enhance ride and control.
Expedition also has electric power steering that improved low-speed maneuverability — makes it easier to park this bus-sized vehicle — while offering both a better steering feel and lowering fuel economy — no power-steering pump for the engine to power — on the highway.
While a very big box — OK, not quite a large as a school bus — the Expedition is quiet inside thanks to new sound dampening technologies in the pillars that support the roof, as well as in the headliner, door trim panels and even the center console. The Platinum version also gets special acoustic glass for its windshield, driver and front-passenger windows.
The Platinum trim brings with it a power moonroof, voice-activated navigation and power-folding exterior mirrors. Our’s also was equipped with continuously controlled damping suspension and rode on 22-inch polished aluminum wheels.
The Monroney sticker was stamped “Vehicle Not for Sale,” which leads us to believe this may have been a pre-production vehicle meant for testing and evaluation but not for sale through a Ford dealership.
Ford’s website reports that the 2015 Expedition starts at $44,585 with the Platinum version starting at $59,370.
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum 4×2
Vehicle type: 8-passenger full-size sport utility vehicle, rear-wheel drive
Base price: n/a Price as tested: n/a
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, 365-horsepower @ 5,000 rpm, 420 pound-feet of torque @ 2,500 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 119.0 inches Overall length/width: 206.0 inches / 91.8 inches (including mirrors)
Curb weight: 5,559 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 16 city / 22 highway / 18 combined
Assembled in: Louisville, Kentucky