Substantially restyled for 2007, the Expedition changes little for 2008, adding a new top trim level and a number of standard and optional features, including a rearview camera. Last sold in 2006, a King Ranch version comes back for 2008 and takes the top slot from the Expedition Limited. An extra $1,940 gets you mostly cosmetic changes inside and outside. The XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited trim levels continue. The longer version of the Expedition, the Expedition EL, has 21 percent more cargo room than the standard Expedition.
Ford introduced the Expedition in the mid-'90s as an answer to Chevrolet's Tahoe and Suburban full-size SUVs. It did only a fair job competing with the Tahoe until 2003, when it was substantially reengineered with a lower center of gravity and a surprisingly roomy third row. Still, it couldn't compete with the Suburban, which offered all the seating plus increased cargo space. Even though the Suburban has been sold for decades, Ford's sole challenger, the Excursion, didn't stand up to it during its 2000-05 run. In 2007, Ford answered with a much more viable competitor in the Expedition EL, which is 14.8 inches longer. Inside, 131 cubic feet of cargo volume puts the Expedition EL within striking distance of the Suburban.
Even in this era of high gas prices and climate-change concerns, the Expedition EL and Suburban fill a true need that isn't met by minivans or crossovers: the capacity to carry up to nine occupants plus luggage — without sacrificing one for the other.
At 220.5 inches long, the Expedition EL is just 5.9 inches shorter than the Excursion and about 2 inches shorter than the Suburban. Regular-length and extended Expeditions sport the same exterior styling overall.
Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, but buyers can also choose 18- or 20-inch wheels. The King Ranch trim level gets its own 18-inch wheels, chrome tailpipes, gold trim and King Ranch badges.
The steering wheel, gauge clusters and climate controls are similar to those in Ford's F-150 pickup truck. New standard features for 2008 include keypad keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated side mirrors. Uplevel models have real wood trim and three-zone automatic climate control. Power-deployed running boards are a new option, first seen on the Lincoln Navigator.
The Expedition can seat up to nine occupants across three rows of seats. Thanks to an independent rear suspension, the third-row seat folds flat into the floor — a feature not offered in competitors primarily because live-axle suspension components obstruct this space. A power-folding mechanism for the third-row seat is optional on lower trims and standard on higher ones, including the King Ranch.
With the second- and third-row seats folded, the Expedition's maximum cargo capacity is 108.2 cubic feet. The Expedition EL offers 131 cubic feet of volume. All the extra length goes to the cargo area, so the EL's third row is no larger than the regular Expedition's, though it is admirably accommodating.
The King Ranch has Chaparral leather not found on other trim levels, with a King Ranch logo debossed in the backrests. Wood trim appears on the gear selector, instrument panel and switch bezels.
The Expedition's 5.4-liter V-8 makes 300 horsepower and 365 pounds-feet of torque, but it's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission instead of the previous Expedition's four-speed automatic.
Rear-wheel drive is standard and part-time four-wheel drive is optional. When properly equipped, the Expedition can tow up to 9,100 pounds. Unlike the Tahoe and Suburban, the Expedition comes only as a half-ton truck. The 2500-series three-quarter-ton Chevys come with larger engines and higher towing and hauling capacities.
The Expedition has not been crash tested by our preferred source, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It scores five stars in government frontal-crash tests, the highest possible.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats are standard. All-disc antilock brakes and Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic stability system with Roll Stability Control are standard. RSC monitors body lean and will intervene if it senses an impending rollover in order to keep the vehicle's wheels on the ground. If a rollover does occur, the curtain airbags deploy to cushion occupants and prevent their ejection.