Next-Gen Ford Expedition Spotted with Aluminum Bodywork

The full-size SUV will switch to the lightweight material.

The next generation of the Ford Expedition will see the full-size SUV switching to the lightweight aluminum bodywork of the F-150 pickup truck. These spy photos show a prototype Expedition testing with the front end and cab design of an F-150, but the boxy rear body of an SUV.

Reports last year indicated that the Lincoln Navigator, the Expedition's mechanical twin, would go aluminum for the 2017 model year. Given that the Expedition and Navigator were updated concurrently for the 2015 model year, it wouldn't be surprising to see both the SUVs switch to the lightweight material within two years' time. Today's Expedition chassis is related to that of the outgoing F-150, so it makes sense for the next version of the SUV to switch to a version the new truck's architecture.

As was the case for the 2015 Ford F-150 and the 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty, switching to aluminum bodywork will be key in shedding mass from the heavy eight-passenger SUV. Today's Ford Expedition weighs 5,600-5,846 lb in its standard-wheelbase form and 5,897-6,103 in its more spacious extended-wheelbase model. By using aluminum instead of steel for many of the large exterior body panels, the next-gen Ford Expedition should be able to cut those numbers by several hundred pounds. That will reduce fuel consumption by allowing Ford to use smaller engines.

The Ford Expedition prototype seen here clearly adopts the front-end and cab design of the F-150 pickup truck, with a straight roofline that will preserve the model's interior spaciousness. The most notable styling departure is a slightly sloped rear window, which may be an effort to improve the large vehicle's aerodynamic performance and thus its fuel efficiency.

With weight cut, the next Ford Expedition could conceivably use smaller engines, just as the new Ford F-150 downsized its engines as its weight fell. Instead of the 365-hp, 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 in the current Expedition, the new model might be able to switch to the thriftier 325-hp, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 used in the Ford F-150.

Look for more on the next-generation Ford Expedition over the coming year.