2015 Ford Expedition Platinum Review

Has there ever been a longer running runner-up in an automotive category than the Ford Expedition? The large three-row SUV has been outsold by the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins for years by as much as a 2:1 margin in the ever-shrinking large SUV segment. Throw in the Tahoe and regular Yukon numbers and the Expedition lags even further behind. The Expedition does outsell its luxo Lincoln stablemate, the Navigator, by about a 4:1 margin.
It may not be able to overcome the years of momentum and iconic brand image of the Suburban — proclaimed back in 1986 as the “National Car Of Texas” — but the latest iteration of the Expedition is fighting back.

The Tester
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum 4×2
Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 EcoBoost, twin-turbocharged and intercooled, direct injection (365 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm, 420 lbs-ft torque @ 2,500 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed SelectShift automatic
Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 16 city/22 highway/18 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 17.1 mpg, approx. 75 percent city
Options: Power deployable running boards, power liftgate, 600A Equipment Group (power moonroof and voice-activated navigation system), 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, leather front bucket seats, heated/cooled front seats, heated 2nd-row seats, Powerfold 3rd-row seats, 390W Sony premium audio, SYNC with MyFord Touch, Continuous Control Damping Suspension with three selectable drive modes, HD Trailer Towing Package.
Base Price (U.S.): $59,995
As Tested: $63,750
Additional Reviewer Notes:
Average available savings off MSRP per TrueCar: Los Angeles: $4,974; Dallas: $6,459; Chicago: $6,774; New Jersey: $6,319.
Other styles, base price: XLT, $45,095; Limited, $54,805; King Ranch, $59,035
Add approx. $3,000 for 4WD.
Wheelbase: 119 inches. Add approx. $2,700 for 131-inch wheelbase EL models.
Maximum towing capacity: 9,200 pounds.
The 2015 Expedition’s refresh highlight was Ford’s dropping the 5.4-liter V-8 engine in favor of the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 power plant. With a jump in horsepower from 310 to 365 and an additional 2 mpg in gas mileage over the V-8, it is hard to argue with this CAFE-driven decision. Other upgrades for 2015 include the optional controlled damping suspension on our tester that offers three driving modes — comfort, normal and sport — and a redesigned center stack.
Exterior changes were minor and included an enlarged grill and tweaked lower bumper, fog lights and taillights. Ford calls these visual updates “fresh and aggressive.” Every automaker calls such changes “fresh and aggressive.”
It may be an 8-year-old design, but the optional 22-inch polished aluminum wheels and Ruby Red Metallic paint on this top of the line Platinum edition make the old war-horse look pretty darn good…until you notice other Expeditions on the street and realize its looks are pretty darn tired.
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum Review
The first thing you see when climbing aboard is the keyless entry keypad on the doorsill. I had forgotten this feature was still around. first seeing it on a 1990s Lincoln Mk VIII Coupe (which means Sajeev probably has three of the pads in his parts bin). Instructions on how to program the keys and keypad take up 28 pages of the owner’s manual but work intuitively. Open the door and the Escalade-like stainless power running boards whir down to assist you with the two-step climb into the cab.
The voluminous interior is a mix of old and new: tons of outlets, cubbies and cup holders with modern satin aluminum trim clashing with ugly, dark vertical slabs of plastic on the dash. The heated and cooled leather front seats in our tester were comfortable but already showing signs of cracking on the edges after a few thousand miles. It is too bad Ford does not offer a panorama sunroof option because the expanse of black tones made for a dark interior on our tester.
This is a true eight-adult-sized vehicle with third-row seats that fold down at the touch of a button on the back of the seats. Cargo volume is 108 cubic feet (131 cubic feet in the long-wheelbase EL model) with 55 cubic feet available with the 3rd row of seats folded down. A low load height thanks to the independent rear suspension makes access to the rear a snap.
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum Review
The last Ford I drove with the MyFord Touch infotainment center was a 2012 Escape and it was fine if you were a Rubik’s Cube champion, but was way too confusing for the average driver. In this redesigned system, with an 8-inch touch screen high sitting in the center stack and twin 4.2-inch LCD screens surrounding the speedometer, every function was easy to find. Syncing phones and iPods was easy and the soft multi-colored glow it emits at night looks great.
One quirk I noted is when you switch the transmission into manual mode a tiny tachometer pops up on one of the small LCD screens and it’s truly comical in appearance.
The center touch screen can be divided into quadrants displaying Phone, Navigation, Entertainment and Climate functions. It resembles an electronic version of the old-school car dealer “Four-Square” closing worksheet. Perhaps Ford could speed up the sales process by programming the elements of the four square into the boxes and you could negotiate your deal with your salesperson during your test drive:
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum Review
Why yes, I have been in the car business way too long.
It is strange to fire up a 5,600 pound SUV and not hear the rumble of a V-8. You will not miss the sound when you hit the gas on the EcoBoost V-6: the Expedition is quick, whooshing from 0 to 60 mph in the mid 6-second range. There is a touch of turbo lag but the motor shows tremendous flexibility at all speeds, helped along by the smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. I absolutely loved the brakes, which are firm and easy to modulate.
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum Review
Along with its independent rear suspension, our tester had the new Continuous Control Suspension option with three selectable drive modes — comfort, normal and sport. You can actually feel the difference in the each mode. In the sport setting, the slightly sloppy steering tightened up, the cornering was much crisper and the ride much more choppy. The comfort mode may as well be called the wallow mode. All three settings eased the pain of driving Tucson’s crater-filled roads. After fooling around with the settings on the first day, I ended up leaving it in normal mode for the duration of the test. Who needs a sport setting on a school bus anyway?
Despite a tiny bit too much wind and road noise, the Expedition is an extremely comfortable long-distance cruiser.
As far as the comparison to the Suburban, tests indicate the refreshed Ford offers a better ride thanks to its independent rear suspension and adjustable damping, slightly better acceleration and better towing capacity at 9,200 pounds vs. 8,000 pounds. With the Suburban you get a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 with only a slight sacrifice in gas mileage (16/23) versus the Expedition, but it’s accompanied by less road noise and a more luxurious interior thanks to a generous use of softer materials.
2015 Ford Expedition Platinum Review
The Suburban offers much more interior room than our 119-inch wheelbase tester; the 131-inch wheelbase Expedition EL is slightly roomier than the Chevy.
Basically, the Expedition is the better truck and the Suburban the better car.
Comparing similarly equipped models shows a Suburban LTZ stickering at $70,215, or about $3,600 more than a long-wheelbase Expedition Platinum.
Ford is readying a complete overhaul of the Expedition for 2017. Word is they will add a diesel engine option, which Chevrolet has not offered in the Suburban since 2000. (Ford’s even-larger Excursion, discontinued after 2005, did have an available 6.0-liter Powerstroke diesel.) The Mercedes-Benz GL is the only large SUV currently offered with an oil-burner engine and I think an American-brand, full-size SUV with a diesel powerplant would sell very well.
The 2015 Ford Expedition is an old-school SUV with a new-school motor. If you are a road warrior needing lots of room for cargo or kids and tons of towing capacity, this may be the sport-ute for you.

Powerful EcoBoost V-6
Power-folding third-row seats
Plush, comfortable ride

Nit Pics:

Some cheap interior materials
Even 22-inch dubs can’t hide dated look
No pano roof available

Wife Sez: I love the power extending running boards!
Ford provided the vehicle for one week, one tank of gas and insurance.
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