By David Boldt
In the almost 18 years since Ford's Expedition first rolled into showrooms (at that time significantly based off the F-150), there has been a sea of change in the SUV market. However, despite incremental sales over the past several model years, there remains the big-family, trailer-towing buyer in need of a capable SUV. And nothing says "towing" quite like Ford's body-on-frame full-size Expedition and long-wheelbase EL.
With a host of updates for 2015, the folks at Ford hope to keep the Expedition relevant until all-new models can fit into Ford's updated/upgraded product plan, which could include many of the same upgrades seen on the next-generation 2015 Ford F-150.
First things first: While aluminum exists on the '15 Expedition, its use is confined to those ancillary pieces typically reserved for the lightweight alloy and not — we'll emphasize — for the entire body structure. In short, this is not the SUV derivative of Ford's '15 F-Series. Instead, exterior changes are limited to a new front clip (featuring available LED fog lamps), optional 22-inch wheels and a redesigned rear hatch. At the reveal it was difficult to gauge the extent of the changes relative to the existing model, but there's far greater commonality between the new Expedition and today's F-Series than there exists with the all-new F-Series. Compared to the 2015 F-Series (if you choose to do so) there's little shared beyond the EcoBoost V-6 and — of course — the Ford logo.
Inside, interior updates are clearly evident, especially on the new Platinum edition Expedition. What is described as "lush leather seating" is available in a new Brunello leather, a red wine color featuring tuxedo-stripe accents and French-seamed stitching. And if it's simply not your time for red wine, you can also choose black leather with Agate Gray accents. The Platinum will sit at the top of the trim triangle, with XLT and Limited providing the other two initial choices; a new King Ranch edition will be available later.
Of course, a newish Ford wouldn't be newish without the latest technologies, including Sync with MyFord Touch, push-button start and a blind spot information system. We had hoped Ford's truck division, through marketing, messaging or tweets, might simply tell customers to shut up and drive, but it hasn't happened yet.
Real change can be seen under the hood, where the Expedition's current 5.4-liter V-8 is no longer available. The only powertrain will be Ford's well-received and popular 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, delivering more power and performance than the outgoing V-8 while promising better fuel efficiency. Combine that with the segment's only independent rear suspension and three selectable (albeit optional) drive modes — Comfort, Normal and Sport — and you have the makings of a sophisticated player.
At the end of the day, Ford loyalists will be satisfied with the full menu of upgrades, while Chevrolet loyalists — with an all-new Tahoe/Suburban on the way — will have little reason to stray, save for the EcoBoost V-6. These are interesting times, with an increasing variety of interesting trucks.
To read the full Ford press release, click here.
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