Tossing weight, V-8 boosts Expedition

The 2018 Ford Expediton turns to new look, V-6 power. (Bud Wells photo)

“Toss it,” is the keyword among Ford decision-makers these days, and its significance is apparent in the attractive, redesigned 2018 Expedition 4X4, full-sized SUV.

The new one has shed 300 pounds of curb weight with an aluminum-alloy body, yet offers a roomier interior; also tossed out is Ford’s long-used V-8 power in favor of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, and with a 10-speed transmission, oh, my, what a performer.

The Expedition has been around for more than 20 years. When it showed up in the fall of ’96 as a ’97 model, I drove it to Durango and back. That one was 3 inches shorter than today in wheelbase, 6 inches shorter in overall length, was equipped with a 4.6-liter V-8 with tow capacity of 6,100 pounds compared to today’s 9,200 tow capacity with the EcoBoost V-6. EPA fuel estimate back then was 14-18; today’s is 17-23.

Though it sits high on 22-inch wheels, access is eased with power-deployable running boards, the interior is filled with latest tech and soft leather, and the third row of seats is adult-sized. It probably moves to the head of its class, yes, ahead of Tahoe and Sequoia.

The Expedition’s high-end Platinum model carried me, Jan, Kim Parker and Barb Lesser into Denver and Coors Field, where son Kurt Wells threw out the first pitch for the Rockies’ game against the New York Mets. Lots of in-town maneuvers prior to the highway drive resulted in overall fuel average of 17.8 miles per gallon of regular unleaded.

Second-row seating is comfortable and the captain’s chairs allow room between them for third-row access or can be tipped forward. Cargo space behind the third row is 21 cubic feet and expands to 57.5 feet with the third row folded. The liftgate can be foot-activated for hands-free operation.

Response of the 5,700-pound Ford with EcoBoost V-6 is impressive, delivering 400 horsepower and 480 lb.-ft. of torque. With the 10-speed transmission, a terrain management system offers drive modes of normal, sport, snow, sand, mud and tow/haul.

The Expedition, a body-on-frame SUV built off the chassis of the F-150 pickup, is ruggedly readied for offroad duty, with 9.8-inch ground clearance and push-button activation of four-wheel high and low.

While pricing for the Expedition XLT 4X4 begins around $55,000, the sticker on the Platinum model provided to me soared to $81,265. Added features included heavy-duty trailer tow package with backup assist, dual-headrest rear-seat entertainment, full-speed automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.