The Ford Expedition is popular with drivers who need high levels of off-road capability, towing capacity, and space. The Expedition first appeared in the mid-90s and remains on sale today, in its fourth generation.
While Ford has plenty of sport utilities of varying sizes – the tiny EcoSport, the popular Escape, the Canadian-made Edge, and the venerable Explorer – with the Expedition being the largest of the lot, riding on a truck platform unlike its car-based siblings.
Looking at the third-generation Expedition in particular, its lengthy production run spanning from 2007 until 2017 may well have contributed to the machine’s stellar dependability and reliability ratings. There’s plenty of information to suggest that vehicles built late in a long production cycle tend to be especially reliable, and with 10 years of practice getting it right, the Expedition fits the bill.
If your budget allows it, a 2015 or newer model may be your best choice. Joining the Expedition’s proven platform – borrowed from the best-selling Ford F-150 –was a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that replaced the aging 5.4L V8 used in previous models. The result was more power and improved fuel efficiency. An update for 2015 also gave the Expedition refreshed styling, feature content, safety equipment, and infotainment systems.
Earlier Expedition models from this generation ran a 5.4L V8 with 300 or 310 hp, depending on the year and model selected. From 2015 and on, that engine was replaced by Ford’s more modern 3.5L V6, which made 365 hp and provided a dramatic improvement in low-end torque. All models use an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive to deliver power to the ground.
What Owners Like
Owners report a smooth and comfortable highway ride, plenty of space for cargo, and sufficient passenger space for adults to relax and socialize with room to spare. With turbo power on tap, the Expedition’s low-end torque is highly appreciated by owners who frequently tow a trailer. All-weather capability with proper tires is highly rated as well.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wish for more upscale interior materials, an easier time parking and manoeuvring in tight quarters, and better fuel efficiency.
Pro Tip: Check the Dealership
Shoppers seeking to minimize uncertainty in their used SUV buying experience should consider seeking out a used Expedition from a Ford dealer, ideally sold as part of a certified pre-owned (CPO) program, which requires used vehicles to meet higher quality standards than those sold privately. Other perks including extended warranty coverage and roadside assistance may be included as well.
The Test Drive
On your test drive, be sure to spend some time with heavy throttle inputs, being on the lookout for any signs of hesitation from the Expedition’s engine as you accelerate from city to highway speeds several times, and at several different throttle positions.
A hesitation or surge from the engine has been reported by some owners in this situation, and may indicate a problem with one or more ignition coil packs in the engine, or with one or more sensors attached to the engine. Here’s more reading.
As you accelerate, note that any slamming or roughness from the transmission as it shifts gears is another sign of trouble. Often, transmission trouble like this is fixed with a simple software update. Sometimes, it’s a sign of a more serious issue.
The majority of Expedition owners do not report problems like these, but being on the lookout can save you money in the long run. If the Expedition you’re test-driving doesn’t perform smoothly under heavy throttle, have it seen by a technician before you buy.
Carefully Check the Electronics
Some owners have reported problems with hardware or electronics relating to door locks, door handles, and power windows. Other owners have reported a clumsy or loose feeling from the power driver’s seat. Most have not.
When seated, run the driver’s seat through its range of motion, confirming smooth motion in all directions. Open and close the sunroof fully several times. Work the sunshade, too. If you notice any straining, binding, or an unexpected change in direction, you’ll want to have the vehicle seen by a professional before you buy.
Finally, confirm proper operation of all door locks, door handles, and power windows. Be sure to operate each of the above from inside the vehicle, outside the vehicle, and from the remote keyfob and all interior switches, as applicable.
The power tailgate (if equipped) should be inspected, too. Fully open and close it several times, noting any straining, unwanted noises, or a sudden reversal in direction. Power tailgate problems can cost you money, so you’ll want to know about them before you buy.
A Sneaky Leak
A small number of owners have reported water leaks, possibly caused by improperly installed or missing weather seals, or a problem with the drainage system built into the Expedition’s sunroof opening. To help avoid the headache, remove all floor mats and items from the Expedition’s interior, revealing the bare carpeting. Press your hand into the carpeting throughout the vehicle, checking for dampness or moisture. If there’s a sunroof, windshield, or door leak, water should present itself with this test, likely below the vehicle dashboard. Carefully check all carpeting for signs of moisture. If you detect a leak, moving to another unit is best.
Some owners have reported paint and corrosion problems that should be fairly apparent on close inspection. Focus your efforts on the Expedition’s hood and tailgate. Inspect the lower edges of both for signs of bubbling, peeling, or a low-quality repair. If everything looks in order, open the hood and tailgate, and check around the inner edges for rust as well. Some owners have had success at having dealers repair this issue, possibly under warranty.
A Lot More Reading
An online Ford Expedition owner’s community has compiled this lengthy list of feedback based on the ownership experiences of some forum members. As you browse the list of posts, you may find other useful information, advice, or owner insight. Note that forum posts represent the feedback of a very small portion of Expedition owners.
With strong expert ratings for dependability and an owner’s community that’s largely satisfied with their machines, a used Ford Expedition from the later part of its third generation looks like a confident buy in a large SUV that’s ready to work for growing families.
IIHS: details here
NHTSA: 5/5 stars (2015)
Here’s a list of safety recalls.