We could put together a convincing argument that Ford is the King of Trucks in North America. Between its F-150 pickup and Escape compact crossover, the blue oval logo is ubiquitous anywhere you find trucks and SUVs, which, these days, is just about everywhere.
We figure that makes the Expedition the King of Kings as Ford's largest SUV model. For 2018, this full-size utility gets a serious dose of modernization that includes slick new styling, a new, stronger version of Ford's 3.5L EcoBoost turbocharged V6 and a 10-speed automatic transmission that makes this the first SUV or crossover of any size with that many ratios.
Ford says it expects the 3.5L EcoBoost/ten-speed combo to work together for the best towing capacity in the Expedition's class, and calls out a class-best level of driver assist technology, including active park assist that will pull in and out of parking spots, a 360-degree camera, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go.
Like the F-150, the new Expedition wear an aluminum body, which, along with a high-strength steel frame, helps cut curb weight by more than 135 kg -- weight that can be put toward the truck's towing abilities. But this new model is also larger: it's wider and longer by about 25 mm and rides on a wheelbase stretched about 75 mm.
Like the smaller Explorer, the Expedition now gets a terrain management system that lets the driver choose from different powertrain modes depending on driving style, road surface and what's being towed and/or hauled.
Other neato tech includes wireless smartphone charging, a wifi hotspot and a rear-seat entertainment system. Infotainment tasks are handled by Ford's excellent Sync 3 system, and for passengers who prefer to be left to their own devices, there are six USB ports, four 12-volt power outlets and a single 110-volt outlet arranged throughout the cabin. On the lower-tech side of the ledger, there are 17(!) cupholders, too.
The new Expedition is set up to accommodate up to eight, and Ford says it's the first full-size utility to offer tip-and-slide second row seats to ease access to the third row. And for cargo-moving duty, a 4x8 sheet of plywood will fit atop the folded second and third rows with the tailgate closed. Folding those seats is now as easy as hitting a button inside at the rear of the cargo area, and a cargo management system is there to keep things organized and in their respective places.
Somewhat ironically, the market for big SUVs is fairly small, at least compared to that for pickups, but nevertheless, the Expedition is far from alone. It competes for dollars with the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon, Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada and, maybe, a future Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
This may not be prime real estate in the automotive marketplace, but those are all very good vehicles that will find a formidable competitor in this new Expedition, which will now have high-tech construction and safety features to help it catch the attention of big utility buyers.