G. Chambers Williams

Ford's redesigned 2015 Expedition offers more fuel efficiency with turbo V-6

The new 2015 Ford Expedition full-size sport utility features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine that Ford says will create the most fuel-efficient and powerful Expedition ever. The vehicle goes on sale later this year.
The new 2015 Ford Expedition full-size sport utility features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine that Ford says will create the most fuel-efficient and powerful Expedition ever. The vehicle goes on sale later this year. Submitted photos/Ford Motor Co.

Fans of Ford’s Expedition full-size sport utility vehicle should be well-pleased with the completely redesigned 2015 model, which is offered in eight versions, including a new extended model called the EL.

For 2015, there are XLT, Limited and King Ranch versions of the Expedition, along with the all-new Platinum model.

Base prices start at $43,390 for the XLT, and top out at $60,600 (plus $1,195 freight) for the Platinum EL.

Our test vehicle was the rear-wheel-drive Platinum regular-length model, which has a base price of $57,950.

The EL version is similar to the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. With the Expedition, both lengths come with three rows of seating, just as the GM sport utilities do, with room for up to eight people.

With the extended-length model, there is more cargo space behind the third row.

The regular-length Expedition has a 119-inch wheelbase, and overall is just six inches longer than the midsize Ford Explorer. It provides up to 108.3 cubic feet of cargo space.

But the EL model has a 131-inch wheelbase, and can accommodate up to 130.8 cubic feet of cargo.

Even though ours was the standard length, we enjoyed the cavernous interior, which helped us move a bunch of stuff from our old home to our new one.

One of the biggest surprises for me was learning that the Expedition I was driving – loaded with our stuff – had a V-6 engine, not a V-8. I sure couldn’t tell from driving it – it seemed like there was a big V-8 under the hood.

But the previous Expedition’s V-8 engine has been replaced by Ford's twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 -- the star of the F-150 pickup line. This engine is rated at 365 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque.

It gives the new model the best EPA ratings ever for an Expedition: 16 mpg city/22 highway for the base rear-drive regular-length model we tested.

I suppose the reason it felt like a V-8 is that it actually has more power than the V-8 it replaced. The 2014 Expedition's 5.4-liter V-8 had 310 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque, and was EPA rated at 14 mpg city/20 highway.

The V-6 is the only engine available in the new Expedition. It’s connected to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift feature.

Among the new technologies included on my Platinum test vehicle were a Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, electric power-assisted steering, SYNC with MyFord Touch, and the Continuous Control Suspension, which uses active suspension damping to improve ride comfort and handling.

With its independent rear suspension, the new Expedition is designed to have much-better ride and handling characteristics. The Continuous Control Suspension is included at no extra charge on the Platinum model.

Another plus for the new Expedition is that it has a lower, more convenient fold-flat third-row bench seat, made possible by a less-intrusive rear suspension. A grandson rode in the third seat on a long road trip, and found it quite comfortable.

All Expeditions are assembled at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, which also makes the Super Duty pickups. Ford added jobs and invested an additional $80 million in the plant to accommodate the addition of Expedition production.

Ford had previously introduced a Platinum model for the F-series, and now has added that option to the Expedition. Among its extra features are a dressed-up interior with either a new Brunello leather -- a red wine color with tuxedo-stripe accents and French-seamed stitching -- or Ebony (black) leather with Agate Gray accents, which was included on our test vehicle.

Outside, our Expedition had the very pleasing Ruby Red Metallic paint, a $395 option.

The cabin was quite roomy, and our leather front bucket seats were comfortable even on the long highway run. There is a cool automatic running board on each side that comes out when the doors are opened, and retracts when they’re closed.

The new Expedition has the same trailer-towing capability as its predecessor, even without the V-8 engine. Trailers of up to 9,200 pounds can be towed with standard-length models, and 9,000 pounds on the EL two-wheel drive, or 9,100 on the EL four-wheel drive.

As for the new continuously controlled damping, available for the first time on a Ford model, it has three selectable drive modes – comfort, normal and sport. Sensors provide 46 unique body, steering and braking inputs to allow the system to monitor body motion and adjust the suspension accordingly.

Throughout, the Expedition is more comfortable and passenger-friendly. On the dash is a new center instrument stack that includes an eight-inch color touch screen for SYNC with MyFord Touch. The separate driver-information center above the steering wheel has two 4.2-inch color LCD screens.

Other new features include a 10-speaker, 700-watt Sony audio system; Intelligent Access with pushbutton start; a rearview camera; seven-color, interior ambient LED lighting; and Ford truck apps to help make trailer-towing and off-road driving easier.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is available on all trim levels.

The center console on our vehicle had four cupholders – two in front, and two more across the back, accessible to middle-row passengers. Dual USB ports and an accessory input port were included just inside the center console at the front, and a tray to the front of the shifter and cupholders was perfect for my smartphone.

The four round HVAC vents across the dash were easy to position for optimum air flow. Automatic climate control is standard, along with heated and cooled front seats. The second-row seats were heated, but not cooled.

Special 22-inch polished-aluminum wheels really dressed up the test vehicle, for an extra cost of $2,180.

Total sticker price of our vehicle was $61,720, including freight and options.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com.

2015 Ford Expedition

The package: Large, rear- or all-wheel-drive, five-door, seven-passenger, V-6 powered sport utility vehicle.

Highlights: Completely redesigned for 2015, the venerable Expedition truck-based SUV now comes in regular and extended-length versions, and only with an EcoBoost V-6 engine; the V-8 engine has been discontinued. The vehicle is roomier, better-equipped and more comfortable than before, and also more fuel-efficient. And it still carries a big family and their stuff.

Negatives: Can get pricey with all the extras.

Overall length: 206 inches (Standard); 220.8 inches (EL).

Curb weight range: 5,559-6,091 pounds.

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6 (turbocharged).

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.

Power/torque: 365 HP./420 foot-pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Cargo volume: 18.6 cubic feet (behind third seat, Standard); 42.6 cubic feet (EL).

Towing capacity: 9,200 pounds.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain (all rows).

EPA fuel economy: 16 mpg city/22 highway (Rear-wheel drive).

Fuel capacity/type: 28 gallons/unleaded regular (Standard); 33.5 gallons (EL).

Main competitors: GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada, Infiniti QX80.

Base price range: $43,390-$60,600, plus $1,195 freight.

Price as tested: $61,720, including freight and options (2WD Platinum standard length model).

On the Road rating: 9.2 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.