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2018 Ford Expedition first drive: Two sizes, three rows, all families
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By: AutoweekUSA On: 11-10-2017 Model(s): The first Ford Expeditions rolled off the Michigan Truck Plant assembly line in 1997. 2018 Ford Expedition
Author Experience: Expert review

The first Ford Expeditions rolled off the Michigan Truck Plant assembly line in 1997. Ravenous SUV customers snapped up more than 214,000 of them that first year. That’s a staggering number in today’s much smaller full-size SUV market. The Expedition was progressive both in terms of its design and its efficient modular Triton V8 powertrains -- a leap forward compared to the old Bronco. And those advances helped the Expedition outsell the Chevrolet Tahoe that year by almost 100,000 trucks.

Fast forward 20 years later and the sales leadership now belongs to Chevrolet. Of the seven full-size body-on-frame vehicles that make up this non-luxury class of roughly 340,000 vehicles, only Chevy moved more than 100,000 of them last year. The outgoing Expedition, of which Ford sold fewer than 60,000 last year, has been very slow to evolve. The company’s largest SUV was clearly ready for a remake, and a new one is finally here.

The handsome new Expedition follows the trend set by the Ford F-150. The greasy bits beneath are hidden by aluminum bodywork. Ford says the move saves around 300 pounds over steel. However, much of that weight loss has been baked back into the truck in the form of noise and vibration silencers like structural adhesives, foams and pads. The 2018 Expedition has something like 10 times the sealant that’s found in the old one. So it promises to be far quieter on the road.

Beneath the metal is an upgraded version of the fully boxed frame used in the F-150. How improved is the chassis rigidity? Engineer Alex Long says their modeling showed that in order to match the stiffness of the new Expedition, you’d have to bolt in a giant roll-cage-like X brace across the cargo opening of the old one. So that makes the new one a lot stiffer.

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