I went into the ‘Ultimate Expedition’ driving experience organized by Ford in Ras al Khaimah and Dubai expecting the usual Ford Expedition with a facelift and some extra tech. Boy, did they prove me wrong! At first glance it’s a big, mammoth SUV. I’m not just saying this as a small person, it really is massive. I tested the legroom and headspace with someone who’s about 6 feet, and they assured me, it really is quite spacious. The Expedition is available in two sizes, there’s the long wheelbase Max version with an added 12 inches in overall length and 8 inches of wheelbase.
It has updated headlights and a grille which actually reminds me of the Explorer Platinum that was released in 2016. The wheels are 22 inches. The Expedition comes with power-deploying running boards which deploy when the door is opened making it easy to hop into the cushy leather seats, or in my case, jump into them and the running boards retract as soon as the doors are closed giving the car a nice look without having the running boards sticking out at all times. The Expedition has new tail lights, giving it a completely different design from the previous versions of the Expedition. The cargo space has a button to fold the 2nd and 3rd seating rows, making it infinitely easier to carry cargo.
The interior of the Ford Expedition Platinum is luxurious, the leather has a very nice look and feel to it and my personal favorite feature of the Expedition Platinum: Massage seats! Both the driver and passenger seats come with massage settings. It goes without saying that it also includes heating and cooling of the seats. The steering wheel and information cluster are very much like the F-150. The digital cluster in the middle is customizable. One amazing improvement from the previous model that blew me away is the 12 Speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System. I tested it at full volume and it was intense. Another new feature in the 2018 Expedition is the rotary dial shifter, which gives the centre stack area a sleek and clean look. There’s a terrain management system where you can set the car to every terrain imaginable. Really, try your best, Ford has thought about it. The Expedition has a full view best-in-class panoramic sunroof, it really lights up the interiors. The best part? It has 6 USB ports and one full blown power port in the back seat taking the worst part of road trips out of the equation. Yes, the millennial in me can’t stand it when my phone dies on a road trip. Must-instagram-every-scenic-picture.
There are 2 engine output choices. Most of the trim levels get a 375-horsepower, 470-lb-ft torque of Ford’s admirable EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, which, fun fact is the same thing (more or less) you can find in the Raptor and $500,000 GT! The EcoBoost power plant has made it to the new 10 speed automatic transmission that was co-developed with GM which is a very very smooth transmission. Now, if you’re like me and you prefer to shift your gears manually, you’re going to have a hard time. As I previously mentioned there’s now a rotary gear shift and there’s no paddle shifters. It comes with 2 buttons, a plus and minus sign right under the rotary dial to manually shift gears. Now, I find myself having a really hard time doing that if I were to own this car. But it really isn’t a big deal as it’s not a performance vehicle so I’d just leave it on automatic the whole time. The V6 certainly helps in the car being quiet, and the 22” wheels, are also surprisingly quiet and there isn’t much road noise into the cabin. The Platinum Expedition has a power spike to about 400 horses, and torque also climbs to 480 lb-ft. The Expedition is significantly lighter than the previous models, because just like the F-150 the Expedition is now full aluminum body. It still weighs over 5000 pounds but that being said, the drive is very comfortable, it feels like riding on a cloud.
Let’s talk about tech, the car I tested being a Platinum, it came jam packed with every technical feature Ford has to offer. The Expedition has adaptive cruise control, lane keeping system, auto start stop, 360 camera with excellent resolution and panoramic view. Cross traffic alert for when you’re backing out of a tough parking spot, especially in Dubai with every parking spot being a tight spot, this system alerts you if there’s cars coming from a direction which you generally can’t see. If you have worries about parking such a big SUV, don’t worry, Ford has you covered, it comes with Active Parking Assist! The infotainment system is the sync 3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
If I had to sum up how it feels to drive the Expedition in one word, I would say, fun. Not only do you feel the absolute power of 400 horses on straight roads, it really manages to maneuver well on the bends. The Expedition is, if I’m being a bit daring here, athletic. I was pleasantly surprised how easily I could wheel it around on some challenging curves. Now, the question everyone wants answered, how does the Expedition do off-road? The #ultimateExpedition drive had thought about that and arranged for us to have a drive in the desert. We took it up to the desert in Ras Al Khaimah, which was an absolute blast! It was so much fun, and being an off-road enthusiast and a Nissan Patrol owner myself, I had every intention of pushing this car to its limits. Initially, driving it through the desert was a breeze, but I wasn’t convinced yet. Finally we got to a challenging sand dune that was quite high. I wasn’t carrying enough speed on my initial attempt and as I applied more throttle the Michelins dug into the sand. I reversed down, built up some speed and took the path up. The Expedition struggled a bit, but it managed to climb up in the end. I was impressed, I was half expecting it to not be up to the challenge.
So how was my Expedition experience? I was blown away. I was most shocked by how much more elegant and comfortable the Expedition was. Is it worth the price tag? The Expedition Platinum is somewhere close to about AED 300k and it’s a difficult pill to swallow given that this is a Ford. It’s not a Cadillac Escalade it’s not a Lincoln Navigator but can it compete with these cars?I would say yes. It really is the best in class.