Recently the opportunity came about to take Ford’s big selling Full-Size SUV on a trip to the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis Indiana. A 1200-mile round trip, which was a perfect chance to get the feel of this large station wagon of an SUV. Built like a linebacker and dressed in a tuxedo, this highway cruiser, and a suburban hauler, while big, has all the comfort, safety and features you want for a $72K price
Our 2018 model year ride was decked out in Premium Trim, Part of Ford’s east coast press fleet it came to us with 24K miles already on the odometer. If you follow my columns, you know I like to get cars with miles racked up, this gives you a clear view of how they hold up. Press vehicles take a lot of abuse, maybe more so than rental cars, just that the fleet companies are paid to detail them better, than a quick wash and vacuum before it is rolled out to the next customer at the airport. This Expedition had held up well, which shows that it is well made with quality materials and workmanship.
The Explorer is tall, and with the automatically appearing (and retracting) side steps, you can easily climb aboard this massive beast. Once inside you really feel connected behind the wheel of this truck, to the controls, gauges, and switchgear. Everything is well placed and being the size it is, is in easy reach while driving. Visibility is excellent, you have a good view of the road, in all directions all around you. While this is an over-sized vehicle, it feels more maneuverable than you might first think.
Interior space is well detailed and thought out. The driver’s seat is heated, cooled and offered both a bottom and back massage feature, useful on a long haul trip. Passengers also benefit from attention to their needs, no wonder families choose this vehicle. Front, rear, even third-row seats provide more than just a place to sit. Power outlets, HVAC vents and controls, and areas to hold small items are located throughout the cabin.
Bells and Whistles
When I first got aboard I noticed a red light on top of the dash over the gauge cluster, wondering what it was, it proved itself when a vehicle stopped short in front of me. That bar glowed brightly and started the brake pedal action, much better than my own reaction time, by the time I got my foot on the brake the vehicle was already hard at work slowing down. That red bar gave me notice and proved to be effective, a couple of times during the trip. The Pilot 360 safety system that Ford provides in its vehicles is useful and more important than ever in today’ sever increasing traffic.
Beyond the smartphone interface and satellite radio options, the vehicle was equipped with a CD Player, hard as that is to believe, such old tech, but listening to books on CD (or as we used to say on tape) was a great use of this (Name of Sound System) in this vehicle. Also USB connections to devices for streaming and connecting to apps, which in today’s world this has become the norm on almost every car.
No large vehicle is going to handle like a sports sedan, this rolls like a pickup truck, just with more interior room. At times it can be a bit disconnected due to the electrically assisted steering that helps keep it safely in its lane. The ride is quite comfortable, to the point of luxurious. One of the benefits of having 22-inch tires on pothole-filled rough roads.
The all-wheel-drive provided a feeling of being well connected to the road. Never did this vehicle feel that it was not sure-footed even on wet slushy roads. Steering was typical for this size Ford vehicle be it a pickup or SUV, the safety sentries every once in a while made a small tug or steering correction.
While it was not dismal, it was what you would expect from a vehicle of this size and stature, we eeked out almost 19 mpg on this trip on the 3.6 EcoBoost v-6 engine, which for a large 5600- pound piece of metal was pretty good.
Speaking of metal, weight savings is critical in the Expedition, and thus many parts of this vehicle are made from Aluminium, not steel. While you may not notice the difference, you will hear it when there is a strong rainstorm, and raindrops are hitting the roof, it sounds very different than it would in a vehicle with a steel roof. And with that will come additional expense to do metal body repair, as finding a shop with technicians trained in working aluminum is not as common as steel craftsman/women.
Cargo and Passenger space are plentiful, spacious and comfortable, all three rows of seating provide space to spread out, and even allow for the gear that is brought along on any trip, be it a big box store run, or a cross country trip with luggage.
Overall, I have to say I was quite impressed with the Expedition, how it drove, how it rode, and how it handled. If you are towing a trailer, or just need a large family hauler, this is a vehicle to consider. After driving the Expedition, you can understand the reason that Ford has increased the production of this vehicle at its Kentucky plant, and why
customers are buying it. Ford had made this vehicle modern, tech-savvy and safe. Keeping the model fresh with more than just a restyle, putting into it what buyers today want from a full-size SUV. Want bigger, Yep, Ford can handle that with an extended length version, the Expedition Max, for even a larger vehicle.
While you will not be able to find a lot of discounts on a vehicle that is in demand, by visiting your local auto show, or doing some competitive research with Costco, your credit union or buying service, no doubt you can get a great deal on a new Explorer, or even consider a pre-owned one, as we can tell you they hold up quite well.
Words and images by William West Hopper
The 2018 Ford Explorer Platinum Trim Edition was provided to us for a week of unlimited driving by Ford Motor Company, without any compensation. This review is my own personal opinion from real-time experience behind the wheel.