August 28, 2017
Purchasing a vehicle, any vehicle, involves the evaluation of a number of trade offs. An Expedition El is a very large vehicle, over 6000 lbs. Such a large vehicle brings a lot of benefits: room to carry 8, plus luggage with room to spare, the advantage of a truck frame, substantial towing capacity, carry stacks of 4x8 sheets completely in the interior and real 4WD. Of course a vehicle this large also carries a number of disadvantages, the gas mileage will never compare with a Prius, parking can be a challenge in tight quarters, and it will never handle like a Porsche. The real issue for a car buyer is what parameters are most important to you. Our 2011 King Ranch EL Expedition is our 3rd Expy (this year!), so Ford must have got something right in the Expedition. Our earlier 2005 (Eddie Bauer) went to our daughter, whose hubby enjoyed the 4WD which worked wonderfully in Sequoia National Park in a Christmas snow storm ... think 12" of snowfall and very steep grades at high altitude. We replaced the 2005 with a 2007 Eddie Bauer EL (purchased with 110K miles) and got 18.1 mpg driving from Monterey, Ca, back to the SF Bay Area. Unfortunately, our son thought so highly of the 2007 when we got it home, that he convinced us to sell it to him and do another upgrade ... which bring us to the 2011 King Ranch EL. the 2011 was purchased from AutoNation Katy in Texas and driven back to California. Best mileage thus far is 18.4 mpg, driving from Danville, Ca, to Palo Alto, Ca, as a commute vehicle, mainly freeway driving, which I'm fairly pleased with. Things I like about the 2011: (1) It's a big vehicle, other vehicles tend to stay away from me while on the freeway, (2) The ride is really comfortable on the SF Bay Area's pot holed freeways ... much better than my Mercedes E320, (3) Gas mileage is not great but it's not too bad. The cautionary tale here is: it's a 6000+ lb vehicle, engine has plenty of low rpm torque, abuse the gas pedal and your gas mileage will suffer, (4) 6 speed transmission has been very smooth, 65 mph at only 1700 rpm, (5) It's real quiet (6) No surprise here, the interior is really roomy with more leg room and comfortable 3rd row seats than a Chevy Suburban / GMC Yukon XL. We rented a 2017 GMC Yukon XL in Hawaii to accommodate 6 adults + 1 toddler, and neither son nor son-in-law (6'+) wanted to sit in the third row. Not an issue in the 2011 KR EL Expy, (7) Plenty of towing capacity for us, handles a 6 x 12 utility trailer like it's not there. (8) 4WD comes in handy when you unexpectedly need it (picking up 15 cubic yards of soil from a neighbor's muddy & slippery field), (9) For such a large vehicle, visibility is really excellent, due in part of the large windows. The GMC Yukon XL with its narrower windows comes in a poor second in visibility. Here are some of the things which are less positive: (1) It's been said before ... the interior of the 2011 looks dated and is plasticky. The looks weren't a big concern of mine, but I'll never rate the fit and finish of the interior as highly as my 2001 Mercedes E320. (2) Location of button to close rear hatch is poor (on inside of rear compartment). GMCs have their button located on the rear hatch and is more convenient. (3) Interior overhead lights are too dim, and there are no lights for the third row. In summary, we've enjoyed our three Expeditions as they've filled needs we considered important. In closing I would also say that the King Ranch interior is really nice with a better leather quality than in our earlier Eddie Bauers. And, we have the 2nd row Captains Chairs which ease getting into the third row. If there's someone who wants a lot of leg room, place him or her in the third row, middle seat. With no 2nd row seat in the middle, that individual can stretch out with almost 48" of leg room.