While the tide of bigger-is-better SUVs has been in recession since, well, the recession, fullsize utes are still very much with us. Conservative creatures that have been loathe to evolve, fullsize SUVs nonetheless remain enduringly popular among large families, livery customers, and anyone with lots of friends, relatives, and toys to tug around. With respect to Toyota
, the only players that really matter in the segment are the new-for-2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
, the GMC Yukon
/Yukon XL, and this truck: the Ford Expedition
, the latest evolution of which we just drove for the first time at a press preview in West Virginia.
Unlike the General Motors
utilities, the standard Expedition and the long-wheelbase Expedition EL are not all-new, but rather are heavily refreshed versions of the same basic truck Ford
started selling way back in 2007. The front fascia is where most of the exterior update happens for 2015, with a new three-bar grille design, halogen projector headlamps, and new bumper design with available LED foglamps. Despite all the new bits, the facelift breaks exactly zero ground in terms of design; in fact, it already looks dated, and will only look older once the macho 2015 F-150
bows later this year. Even less has changed out back, where the tailgate gets a wide chrome band spanning the taillamps and a new chrome exhaust tip. Other exterior changes are generally limited to colors and an all-new wheel lineup that includes a gleaming set of six-spoke 22-inch polished wheels on high-end models.
Speaking of high-end models, a new Platinum trim is positioned above the cowboy-spec King Ranch model for 2015. Both the Platinum and King Ranch get their own color combos and exterior trim finishes (satin metal for the Platinum, chrome everywhere and ginormous badges for the King Ranch) and posh, leather-lined interiors with their own aesthetic. The Expedition family also now includes a price-leading XL model, as well as XLT and Limited grades.
That's nice and all, but we didn't fly to Appalachia to ogle new headlights and caress leather seats. The real draw was to see how the Expedition fares after making the switch from its outgoing V8 to turbocharged V6 power, the only way it will come henceforth. The change makes sense on paper, given that the turbo six – the same engine found in the F-150 EcoBoost – simply trounces the old V8 with 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, compared to the outgoing 5.4's 310 hp and meager 365 lb-ft of torque. Notably, the EcoBoost V6 also outmuscles the 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque produced by the 5.3-litre base V8 in GM's portfolio, though it comes up shy of their forceful – and thirsty – optional 420-hp, 460 lb-ft 6.2-litre V8.