Compact and mid-size SUV/crossovers are the most popular vehicle types in Canada, but for some buyers, there’s nothing to beat a full-size rig in this class. It may be because of a large family, demanding business usage or substantial towing capability for a boat or RV but whatever the reason, there’s sometimes no substitute for a big truck.
For this kind of buyer, Ford markets its Expedition, a big, brawny, pickup-based vehicle with exceptional power and roominess. And for 2018, there’s a new fourth- generation model, indicating that although full-size SUVs are not volume sellers like other classes, no automaker is going to abandon the segment just yet.
As though to emphasize the Expedition’s massive towing capability, Ford has equipped this truck with class-exclusive Pro Trailer Backup Assist which simplifies boat launching or trailer maneuvering to make backing up “as easy as turning a knob,” as Ford puts it. Even users with minimal trailer towing experience can get the job done without any drama. Ford points out that over half of Expedition owners value towing and 15 per cent tow weekly or monthly. Using the optional system, the driver rotates a knob to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer and the technology automatically steers the vehicle to turn the trailer the desired amount. Vehicle speed can be limited when poor surfaces are involved, as they often are on remote boat ramps or camp sites.
Behind all this capability is a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V-6 producing 400-horsepower and more importantly in a product like this, 480 pound-feet of torque (high-output engine). Traditionally, vehicles in this class come with big V-8 engines, but today’s turbo sixes can get the job just as effectively and with better fuel economy. Power reaches the road via a 10-speed automatic transmission, so the Expedition’s drivetrain is state-of-the-art in this segment. In Canada, all Expeditions come with full-time all-wheel drive, which can be switched to rear-wheel drive to enhance fuel economy when the vehicle is unladen and nothing is being towed.
This is a very large SUV so naturally, there’s lots of interior space. More or less a luxury vehicle, the truck is very well trimmed and equipped and comes with a long list of benefits, even in basic form. Users will love the amount of stowage space around the cabin, very handy on long road trips when all kinds of gear is being carried. Exercise liberal use of the options list and you can get convenience features like running boards that glide out from underneath the vehicle as required.
Other features include wireless charging for mobile devices, dual head restraint rear seat entertainment, SYNC3 with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six USB chargers and an available Bang & Olufsen premium audio. An optional panoramic roof spans two rows and Ford says no competitor offers this.
The new Expedition drives like a much smaller rig, though it is a very large vehicle. It’s comfortable, very capable off-road, powerful and offers towing capacity that’s more or less unequalled. For buyers who need the space, power and torque, it’s almost out there on its own.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Full-size SUV
ENGINE: 3.5-litre twin-turbo V-6
TRANSMISSION: Ten-speed automatic
TOWING CAPACITY: 9,300 lbs
FUEL ECONOMY: 12.4 litres/100 km combined
PRICE: Starts at around $60,000 MSRP