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First Look: 2018 Ford Expedition

Range Rover-esque style and an aluminum body to mitigate the panoramic roof

Perhaps Ford bet that Dak Prescott would get the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, as it chose to unveil the new, aluminum-bodied 2018 Expedition in Dallas at the Cowboys’ new headquarters and training facility, a couple of days ahead of its official premiere at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.

The 2018 Ford Expedition and Expedition Max go on sale this fall, though now with side surfacing that recalls the Range Rover line from certain angles. The aluminum body saves up to 300 pounds over the previous model, Ford says, though a new panoramic sunroof that’s standard on the top-spec Platinum model and optional on the XLT and Limited ought to at least fill in that loss. (Ford will again offer an Expedition XL model for fleet duty.)

The panoramic glass lets second- and third-row passengers see mountaintops or skyscrapers just like the first row, chief engineer Todd Hoevner says.

“In the Tahoe, you see a bunch of headliner material.”

A new 22-inch wheel option also will add (unsprung) weight. Wheel sizes of 17, 18 and 20 inches carry forward.

The 2018 Expedition retains the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 it received for 2015, which rated 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque in the current model. The six-speed automatic goes away, however, in favor of Ford’s new 10-speed unit. The console-mounted gearshift is now an electronically operated dial with pushbuttons for shifting up or down. Hoevner expects improved fuel efficiency, of course, though actual EPA numbers won’t be released until closer to the 2018 Ford Expedition’s fall on-sale date.

Another feature the Expedition retains for 2018 is its independent rear suspension, which gives it a third-row seat space and fold-flat load floor advantage over its Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon/Yukon XL rivals.

New to the Expedition for 2018 are two nifty minivan-esque features: a sliding second-row seat or seats that provide flexible legroom space for its occupants and a height-adjusted rear parcel-shelf that’s hinged to hold groceries and other short-term cargo just below the top of the tailgate door. The second row is available with captain’s seats or a bench; and either can fold forward with child seats left in to let third-row passengers in.

The moveable parcel shelf lets you pop open the rear window without the whole tailgate in order to get to groceries and other shopping items without bags falling out as the tailgate opens. Rated to hold up to 50 pounds, it’s part of the truck’s Advanced Cargo Manager feature, which also features a larger hidden cubby under the floor panel.

Other new features include the latest, third-generation Sync system with an eight-inch touchscreen, in-truck WiFi contracted through AT&T and extending 50-feet past the perimeter for camping and other outdoor events, a new family entertainment system with screens in the back of both front-row headrests, a 360-degree camera, and connectivity for up to 10 devices consisting of four 12-volt powerpoints, six USB ports, and a 110-volt outlet.

Furthermore, with the 2018 Expedition, Ford begins a new contract with Sling that will allow you to watch live broadcasts inside the SUV, though it doesn’t work on the main screen, while the active safety suite receives adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane keeping assist, and blind-spot warning.

On the engineering side, the 2018 Expedition features selectable four-wheel-drive (when ordered, of course), an electronic locking limited-slip differential, and a terrain management system. Pro-trailer backup assist, already offered on F-Series trucks, lets the driver reverse with a boat or horse trailer, or whatever, using a toggle switch on the center stack.

Hoevner won’t comment on whether Ford might consider dropping the F-150’s coming 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 under the hood of the new Expedition, though from our point of view, that seems inevitable.

Second engine or not, Ford has a compelling new package that ought to appeal to the growing number of big families and big-rig haulers who are getting back into the segment as gas remains cheap. Unlike the pickup truck segment, there’s much less brand loyalty in this segment, so the new Expedition (and the inevitable all-new Lincoln Navigator) ought to gain a bit of market share on its GM rivals, which outsold Ford Motor Company 292,981 to 70,256, platform-vs.-platform, in 2016.

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