By Aaron Bragman on February 18, 2014
Competes with: Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada
Looks like: It didn't change much
Powertrains: Twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6; rear- or four-wheel-drive; six-speed automatic transmission
Hits dealerships: Second half of 2014
Ford is showing an updated version of the company's full-size Expedition SUV at the Dallas Auto Show Feb. 19-23, unveiling the mildly restyled truck in friendly territory — Texas is the Expedition's best market nationally, and GM builds its own full-size SUVs not far from Dallas.
Just like the 2015 Lincoln Navigator that was sort of unveiled at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show earlier in February, the Expedition continues almost unchanged from the current model; some powertrain and suspension updates are the big story for this big truck.
You'd be hard pressed to tell the 2015 model from the 2014 version, as the changes are limited to some new head- and taillights, the inclusion of LED running lamps and some restyled bumpers. All sheet metal remains the same, there's a new grille up front and fender trim has been added to the wheel wells. New wheels are offered, with 22-inch wheels optional. The overall changes do nothing to update the Expedition, especially in comparison to the major styling update GM has brought to the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon for 2015. The Expedition looked dated before this update and unfortunately still does.
As with the Navigator, two lengths will be offered. The standard Expedition has a 119-inch wheelbase with three rows of seats, offering up to 108.3 cubic feet of cargo room. The long wheelbase Expedition EL spans 131 inches, with a cavernous 130.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the second and third rows folded.
Changes to the interior are minimal as well. The Expedition keeps the old-look Ford truck dash with its last-generation plastics, but adds push-button start, Ford Sync and the latest up-to-date connectivity abilities. A new 8-inch touch-screen is present in a refreshed console, and new gauges with twin 4.2-inch LCDs are offered. Other than that, anyone familiar with the old truck's cabin will feel right at home in the updated one.
Where the Expedition does maintain its advantage is in passenger comfort, thanks to its independent rear suspension, which allows the third row of seats to be folded flat into the floor. This means that the third row is fully usable for real adults, and when stowed it doesn't eat up a few inches of height like the ones in GM's SUVs. A new trim level joins the Expedition lineup, the Platinum trim that's popular on the F-150 pickup truck. It brings upgraded leather in two color choices, Brunello dark red or black, but no real wood trim or upgraded dashboard materials.
The biggest changes to the '15 Expedition are where you can't see them. Front and center is a new powertrain for the truck: the only engine offered will be a new twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic and sending power to the rear wheels. Four-wheel-drive is optional. Ford has not released horsepower numbers for the truck, but says that the turbo V-6 should be more powerful and more fuel efficient than the old 5.4-liter V-8 it replaces. No V-8 engine will be available for the Expedition, just like the Navigator.
The suspension gets some revision as well, with Ford including a new continuously controlled damping system that lets drivers select between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes. The system monitors 46 unique inputs from body sensors, steering, brakes and more to adjust the dampers in milliseconds and create what Ford says will be a far more engaging vehicle to drive. Combined with the truck's independent rear suspension and fully electric power steering, this could be an interesting setup.
The new Expedition will go on sale sometime in the latter half of the year, says Ford, likely around fall or winter.
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron