NAPA KNOWS NEW CARS: 2018 FORD EXPEDITION
(Editor’s Note: Welcome to NAPA Knows New Cars with the 2018 Ford Expedition. This is not your normal new car review. This series focuses more on the nuts & bolts of the vehicle that are not usually covered by other outlets. The intention is to inform, not endorse. Ultimately the decision to buy a vehicle should be based on an individual’s needs and situation.)
When the need arises to move not only several people, but also their stuff while pulling a large trailer, there is no substitute for a full-size body-on-frame SUV. The Ford Expedition has been a staple of Ford’s SUV lineup since 1997. A derivative of the full size Ford F-150 platform, this body-on-frame SUV competes in the same space as the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada, and Toyota Sequoia. The 2018 Ford Expedition marks the fourth generation of the Expedition with an all new redesign.
Those who are used to driving large vehicles will be surprised by the maneuverability of the Expedition. The standard backup camera coupled with the optional Enhanced Active Park Assist System make it possible to position the vehicle precisely. The ride is smooth but the overall bulk of the vehicle is noticeable. Power is plentiful from the twin turbo 3.5L V6, which drives like a much larger engine but without the fuel economy penalty. The transmission shifts smoothly without hunting for gears. Brakes are more than adequate for the chassis.
Front passenger seats are roomy with plenty of space to move around and access the various interior storage compartments. The center console is gigantic, with just over a one cubic foot of storage space. A handy storage compartment in front of the shifter features a wireless cell phone charger, along with two USB ports. The rear of the console includes an 110-volt AC power outlet, ideal for charging laptops on the go.
Middle row seating is also generous, with preference given to the optional captain’s chairs for enhanced interior maneuverability and third row seating access. The third row seats three across, but three adults would be cozy. Storage cubbies flank either side of the third row seat. Both the middle and third row seats fold flat when maximum cargo space is required.
Those who tow will appreciate the Pro Trailer Backup Assist feature included in the Heavy-Duty Trailer Towing Package. This feature uses the rear backup camera and a dash mounted control knob to help assist in backing up a trailer. There is some setup involved, as each trailer must have a special supplied black/white checkered sticker applied within sight of the backup camera. Up to 10 trailers can be saved in the system. You will need a tape measure to collect the necessary distances the Pro Trailer Backup Assist system uses to calculate the trailer location. In practice it took a few tries to get the sticker positioned optimally. We suggest performing the setup operation in a large, flat parking lot, as it does require driving forward for some distance in order to complete calibration.
Once the trailer data is entered into the system, the vehicle will recognize when a trailer is attached. Putting the vehicle in reverse activates the Pro Trailer Backup Assist. From that point the driver removes their hands from the steering wheel and uses the dash mounted control know to guide the trailer direction. It does take a little practice to get used to, but it makes trailer backing much easier. This is especially true when backing straight, like when launching a boat at the ramp.
Our test vehicle towed a moderately loaded 5’x8’ utility trailer with almost no effort. Due to the height of the vehicle a 4” drop ball mount would have been a better choice to level out the trailer. Built-in 4-pin and 7-pin trailer wiring connectors help speed up trailer coupling.
The engine bay of the Expedition is roomy, with both the battery and the air filter readily accessible. The height of the vehicle does make reaching across the engine bay a stretch, so a step stool is a good idea for long wrenching sessions. The engine is shrouded by a lightweight cover retained by several washer-headed bolts. Given the long life nature of the components under the engine cover (like spark plugs), requiring tools for removal is not a big deal.
The oil filter is easily accessed from underneath the vehicle at the front of the engine. There are some components directly under the oil filter, so it is a good idea to have plenty of rags on hand to catch the oil that will drip from the filter as you remove it. The oil drain pan plug itself is metal, as is the oil pan, unlike earlier models which had both units made of plastic. The oil drain pan plug is only accessible once a large belly pan is removed from underneath the engine. The belly pan is of a similar material as the engine cover, and is also retained with similar washer-headed bolts. The oil filler cap and dipstick are located on the driver side of the engine, both accented with yellow for easy identification. The engine calls for six quarts of fairly common 5W-30 weight synthetic blend motor oil. Oil changes are dictated by the onboard Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor system.
Access to the serpentine belt is also best done from the underside of the engine. The complex piping necessary for the twin turbos and intercooler air path take up a large portion of the area directly in front of the engine bay. Working from underneath allows the belt tensioner to be easily accessed in the area above the oil filter.
The transmission is a 10-speed unit which will need to have the fluid replaced after 150,000 miles. The transmission uses 13.1 quarts of MERCON® ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid XT-12-QULV or equivalent. Transmission fluid level cannot be checked, as there is no transmission fluid dipstick. The rear axle is an IRS unit (independent rear suspension) which uses CV axles, and should be inspected occasionally for torn boots or worn joints. The front axle (if equipped with four wheel drive) has similar CV axles and should be inspected similarly. The rear differential, as well as the front differential and transfer case (if so equipped) should have their fluid replaced after 150,000 with SAE 75W-85 Hypoid Gear Lube XY-75W85-QL. The steering is electrically power-assisted, so there is no fluid to maintain.
OBD-II port access is easily located at the left side of the driver’s footwell.
The metal oil drain plug can be seen, with the belly pan below.
The optional 22" polished aluminum wheels.
Towing this small trailer and moderate load was extremely easy.
The built-in Class IV hitch with 2" receiver is hidden behind a removable panel in the bumper.
The built-in trailer towing connector has both 4-pin and 7-pin sockets.
The driver's seat is spacious, with easy reach for all controls in familiar locations.
Cargo space is adequate when the third row seats are upright.
Cargo space with the third row seats stored flat is extremely generous.
An absolutely massive amount of cargo space is available when both the second and third rows seats are stored flat.
The emergency jack is located underneath a lid behind the third row seats (right side).
A small storage compartment is lcoated behind the third row seats. We used it to store the trailer hitch cover when towing.
The air filter is located on the driver side of the engine compartment. Replacement is easy with no tools required.
The battery is located on the passenger side of the engine compartment and easily serviced.
The engine coolant reservoir is located front and center for easy checking and filling.
The oil filler cap and oil level dipstick are located on the driver side of the engine with yellow accents.
The oil filter is barely visible from above.
The serpentine belt is barely visible from above.
Both the oil filter and serpentine belt are easily serviced from underneath the vehicle.
This belly pan must be removed in order to access the oil pan and oil drain plug.
The metal oil drain plug can be seen, with the belly pan below.
2018 Ford Expedition Specifications:
Engine Type: EcoBoost twin-turbo V6
Engine Displacement: 3.5 liters
Engine Horsepower: 375 hp – 400 hp depending on trim level
Engine Torque: 470 lb-ft – 480 lb-ft depending on trim level
Transmission: Ten-speed automatic transmission 10R80
Rear Axle Ratios Available: 3.15:1, 3.31:1, 3.73:1
4×2: 17 city / 24 hwy / 20 combined mpg
4×4: 17 city /23 hwy / 19 combined mpg
Weight: 5,433 lbs. (4×2) or 5,692 lbs. (4×4)
Standard Package: 6,000
Optional Heavy-Duty Trailer Towing Package: 9,300
Wheels: Available 18″, 20”, or 22”
Passenger Volume : 171.9 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume with 2nd & 3rd row seats flat: 104.6 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume with 2nd row seats upright & 3rd row seats flat: 57.5 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume with 2nd & 3rd row seats upright:: 19.3 cu. ft.
Seating Capacity: 7 – 8 depending on 2nd row seating choice (bucket or bench)
2018 Ford Expedition XLT, 4×2 – $50,585
2018 Ford Expedition XLT, 4×4 – $53,595
2018 Ford Expedition LIMITED 4×2 – $60,720
2018 Ford Expedition LIMITED 4×4 – $63,845
2018 Ford Expedition PLATINUM 4×2 – $71,075
2018 Ford Expedition PLATINUM 4×4 – $74,220
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