Car-based crossovers are eclipsing body-on frame SUVs in the market these days, but the 2016 Ford Expedition is our top recommendation for those shoppers demanding the upmost in passenger, cargo and towing capacities.
Roomy third-row seat; strong and efficient turbocharged V6; easy-folding rear seats increase interior flexibility; tows more than similarly sized crossovers.
Sometimes, you just need a vehicle that can tow a trailer and haul a big load of passengers and gear all at the same time. A regular crossover SUV just won't do. That's when traditional, full-size SUVs like the 2016 Ford Expedition step in, providing three rows of seating for up to eight people, heavy-duty towing capacity and copious amounts of cargo space.
With its truck-based platform and available four-wheel drive, the 2016 Expedition can tackle dirt trails without issue.
The 2016 Expedition, with its 365-horsepower turbocharged V6, adjustable suspension and loads of seating flexibility meets expectations nicely when size and power do matter. This is one of the few vehicles that can handle most anything you can throw at it. It can tow up to 9,200 pounds when properly equipped, and with the rear seating folded away, standard-length models can hold 108 cubic feet of cargo and extended-length models have up to 130.8 cubic feet of room for stuff.
Ford's decision to use its new Sync 3 infotainment system in place of the previous MyFord Touch system makes the 2016 Ford Expedition even more user-friendly than its predecessor. The only significant drawback to owning an Expedition is its sheer size. This is a big SUV, and some may find it a real beast in tight spaces and even on the open road. Plus, there's a difference between wanting a big SUV like this and actually needing one. We recommend looking at some easier to drive and more fuel-efficient crossovers (such as Ford's Explorer) if you don't need to haul house-sized trailers, battleship-sized boats or seven other folks and all their gear on a regular basis.
If big is high your list, though, the Expedition is the best of the breed right now. The Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Suburban (and their GMC Yukon twins) are quite capable, but we've found in testing that they aren't as quick and don't ride as comfortably as the Expedition. Their rear seating and cargo areas aren't as roomy, either. The Toyota Sequoia is also worth a look, though it's getting on in years. When all is said, the 2016 Ford Expedition is clearly a top contender.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Ford Expedition is a full-size, body-on-frame SUV available in standard and extended-length (EL) body styles. The EL Expeditions are 15 inches longer overall than the standard models. Each body style is offered in four trim levels (XLT, Limited, King Ranch and Platinum), and all trims can be had in two-wheel- or four-wheel-drive versions. All 2016 Expeditions come standard with seating for eight passengers, while optional captain's chairs for the second row reduce passenger capacity to seven.
Standard equipment on the XLT includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, LED foglights, running boards, a roof rack, parking sensors, a rearview camera, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat with manual recline, power-adjustable pedals, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40-split second-row seat and a one-touch fold-flat third-row seat. There's also a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Ford's Sync voice-control system, a 4.2-inch screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio, USB interface, auxiliary jack and rear audio controls.
The XLT 201A package adds a power liftgate, heated mirrors, leather upholstery for the first- and second-row seats (the third row has vinyl), a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a six-way power front passenger seat and a power-folding third-row seat.
The 202A package gets those items plus a heavy-duty trailer tow package, remote ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, a 10-way power front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, the Sync 3 interface with an 8-inch touchscreen and an upgraded 12-speaker Sony audio system with satellite radio.
The Limited trim includes all of the above items along with 20-inch wheels, front parking sensors, power-folding mirrors (with a driver-side auto-dimming mirror), automatic wipers and heated second-row seats. The 301A Package adds a sunroof, retractable running boards and a navigation system.
There's not a whole lot of daylight between luxury-oriented 2016 Expedition trim levels and the related Lincoln Navigator.
The Western-chic King Ranch Edition is equipped similarly to the Limited, but has special two-tone paint, special exterior styling details, a blind-spot monitoring system, premium leather upholstery and wood grain interior trim. The Platinum is similarly equipped to the King Ranch, but it loses the Western theme and gets a sunroof as standard.
Stand-alone options for the 2016 Expedition, depending on the trim level, include many of the items in the pre-packaged equipment groups, plus a load-leveling rear suspension, 22-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, second-row captain's chairs, power retractable running boards, a dual-screen rear seat video entertainment system and a 3.73 limited-slip rear axle.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2016 Ford Expeditions are powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 making 365 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is rear-wheel drive. But buyers can opt for four-wheel drive with low-range gearing. Properly equipped, the Expedition has a maximum tow rating of 9,200 pounds.
The EPA estimates that the RWD Expedition will deliver 18 mpg combined (16 city/22 highway), or 17 mpg combined (15/20) with 4WD. Going for the EL versions drops those numbers by about 1 mpg. On our evaluation driving loop, we matched the EPA's 17 mpg combined estimate in a 4WD Expedition.
At the Edmunds test track, that same Expedition proved to be one of the quickest trucks in its class, as it made the dash to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, easily trouncing competitive full-size SUVs equipped with traditional V8 engines.
The Ford Expedition comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. At the Edmunds test facility, a 4WD Expedition came to a controlled stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, an average distance for its class.
Ford's programmable MyKey system, which allows parents to specify maximum speed limits and stereo volumes for secondary drivers, is standard. Rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are also standard across the board, and the Limited and King Ranch also have front sensors. A blind-spot monitoring system is standard on the King Ranch and Platinum trim levels and optional for the others.
In government crash testing, the Expedition received a top five-star rating for overall protection, with a five-star rating for both frontal and side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
There's plenty of room and an attractive look inside the 2016 Ford Expedition. The Limited, King Ranch and Platinum models are especially classy, but there are a few low-budget surfaces that don't fit the upscale cabin theme. This year's Expedition gets the Sync 3 interface as an option on the XLT and as standard equipment on trims above the XLT level. With Sync 3, Ford ditches the old MyFord Touch touchscreen that caused so much user dissatisfaction in favor of a new, easier-to-use interface. It can be a powerful tool for configuring and controlling the vehicle and your smartphone.
The new-for-2016 Sync 3 infotainment system is a huge improvement, delivering fast and user-friendly functionality.
Everyone in a 2016 Expedition, regular or EL, has a good amount of room to stretch out. The standard 40/20/40-split second-row seat both slides and reclines for greater comfort, and includes a center section that can be scooted forward to put small kids within reach of mom or dad. The available second-row captain's chairs are a small luxury, even though they drop seating capacity to seven passengers. The third-row seat also folds flat into the floor when you need more cargo room, useful for any family going on a luggage-heavy vacation.
Speaking of cargo room, there's no shortage of it here. The standard 2016 Expedition offers 18.6 cubic feet behind the third row, while the Expedition EL sports 42.6 cubic feet. Fold down both rows of rear seats and you get a flat load floor with 108.3 cubic feet in the regular-size Expedition and 130.8 cubic feet in the Expedition EL. For comparison, that's about 10 cubic feet more than the Sequoia and Suburban.
Although the Ford Expedition is a sizable beast, its four-wheel independent suspension gives it exceptionally smooth ride qualities for a traditional full-size SUV. This cannot be said of similarly sized SUVs with live-axle rear suspensions. Opting for the 2016 Expedition's three-way adaptive dampers makes its excellent manners even better. Precise and responsive steering also contributes to an easy-to-drive nature, but the Expedition's considerable bulk is a notable limitation when negotiating tight spaces.
The 2016 Expedition drives quite well for such a sizable beast, and the 365-hp V6 makes quick work of passing and merging maneuvers.
The turbocharged V6 engine is surprisingly well suited for this big SUV. The turbocharger lights quickly, and the immediate shove it produces will convert even the most stubborn critic bemoaning the loss of the V8.