Full-size SUVs are an interesting breed. They deliver most of the utility of a light-duty pickup truck with the cargo and people-moving characteristics of a minivan or large crossover. There’s a significant cool-factor that a tough SUV brings over its more common car-like counterparts, and the modern expectation that a big, expensive vehicle should be comfortable and luxurious on the inside lends them even further appeal against their budget-friendly cousins. Ford’s entry to this segment, the 2021 Ford Expedition, delivers on all fronts of interest and is sure to continue its run as US News and World Report’s highest-ranked full-size SUV.
The Expedition is built on the same platform as the legendary F-150. Instead of a truck bed, however, owners get a roomier second row of seating, an extra third row of seating, and an enclosed cargo area. It offers a long-wheelbase configuration to compete with the Suburban for cargo space and carries on Ford’s reputation as the best brand for towing applications with best-in-class towing capacity as well. Ford supplies an impressive list of standard safety tech and a wide range of options making even the base XLT trim a highly upgradeable option.
Currently, there’s surprisingly little information about the 2021 model, but most of the announced changes from the 2020 edition are minor in nature. While we take a look at what’s arguably America’s best big SUV, we’ll point out what’s confirmed for 2021. As a big vehicle, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get started!
Built Ford Tough With a Can-Do Attitude
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America for a few reasons. Among them are overall quality, reliability, tech options, and sheer capability. As an SUV built on the same platform, the 2021 Expedition should be appealing to drivers in the SUV market for the same reasons. Build options are admittedly more limited compared to the pickup truck, but the Expedition is no less capable for it.
Every 2021 Expedition is powered by a 3.5L V6 twin-turbo EcoBoost engine. Direct injection and turbocharger technologies squeeze a ton of power out for a V6 – this engine makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque for the base trims, while the Platinum trim gets a further boost to 400 hp and 480 lb-ft. Depending on the configuration, that’s strong enough for a towing limit of 9,300 lbs, ample capacity for almost any camping trailer.
A strong engine on a heavy vehicle comes with a hefty carbon footprint, though – in EPA testing, it was only rated for 19 MPG combined in its most efficient configuration. However, its primary competitor, the 2021 Chevy Tahoe, is only rated for 18 MPG combined. The engine in the Expedition also feels strong and athletic – with a 0-60 time of under 6 seconds, highway merging is a breeze under most circumstances.
The 2021 Expedition is built with standard rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is an option on every build. Depending on where your travels take you, it might be worth it to sacrifice a bit of fuel efficiency for year-round traction improvements. Additionally, the Expedition MAX long-wheelbase adds about a foot to the overall length of any Expedition trim. This significantly improves cargo room behind the third row for only minor losses in towing capacity.
GM talks a lot about the ride quality of the new Tahoe and Suburban, but it wasn’t until the 2021 model year that those vehicles gained the independent rear suspension the Expedition introduced back in 2003. By installing a fully independent rear suspension, Ford substantially improved Expedition’s ride quality and delivered better handling than the live-axle rear suspension setups that GM stuck with for so long. Taken all together, the 2021 Expedition drives like a modern truck – that is, with surprising refinement, unsurprising efficiency (or lack thereof), and generous power.
Undertake Your Expedition Your Way
A long and impressive list of packages and features makes it easy to upfit every Expedition trim to your precise wants and needs. The base XLT trim has enough features that you can take advantage of the lower price and use the available packages to add anything else you want to have. Standard features on every Expedition ensure that you’re properly equipped no matter what extras you choose. Fog lights, heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, built-in Wi-Fi capability, SYNC 3 infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus a driver’s seat with 8-way powered adjustability are all standard.
The 201A equipment group includes 10-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats; the more comprehensive 202A package adds these, wireless charging for compatible smartphones, a 110V power outlet, a hands-free liftgate, a heated steering wheel, and remote start. The Expedition’s optional interior features are enough to give the Lincoln Navigator a run for its money, though that luxury version of this full-size SUV brings some additional upscale materials and options that make it worth the added price.
The Black Accent package provides the increasingly-popular black-on-black look from top to bottom. Performance-oriented shoppers will appreciate the FX4 Off-Road package that includes premium tuned shocks, two-speed automatic 4×4, and an electronic limited-slip differential, among other features that make the Expedition off-road ready. This package can also be had with a 360-degree camera to give drivers a clear view of all their surroundings right from the driver’s seat. Plus, some of the off-roading equipment overlaps with the Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package, which introduces an integrated trailer brake controller and Ford’s excellent Pro Trailer Backup Assist to take all of the stress out of the trailer parking experience.
The “Discount” packages add higher-trim features like a panoramic vista roof, second-row captain’s chairs, roof rail crossbars, or interior cargo management accessories at a lower price than upgrading to a higher trim. There are a total of 11 equipment groups offered on the 2020 model, as described here, with an STX Package on the way for 2021 that adds tri-zone climate control to the features of the Expedition XLT.
The seating for up to eight passengers is spacious and comfortable with an impressive (for the segment) 36.1″ of third-row legroom and over 42″ of second-row legroom. An available rear entertainment system provides twin screens behind the front seats, and the second-row seats can be had with power-folding tip-and-slide capability for improved third-row access, even when a child seat is installed.
Standard power-folding third-row seats make it easy to maximize your cargo space when the seats aren’t needed, another great benefit. Cargo room is an overall advantage of the Expedition, with the base model able to fit up to 104.6 cu.ft. of cargo. The larger Expedition MAX expands that to an incredible 121.5 cu.ft. That will allow you to fit almost anything that you could squeeze into a pickup in the back of your SUV.
Never Fly Alone – Co-Pilot360
When it comes to safety tech, Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard in every 2021 Expedition. This comprehensive suite of modern active safety features takes some of the stress out of driving, protecting you from many of the unknowns of driving today. The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert watches all of your blind spots to let you know if it’s unsafe to attempt a lane change or if there’s something approaching from your blind spot while backing up. A Lane Keeping System will notify you if you drift near the lane markers – and politely suggest a coffee break if it’s happening a lot.
Sometimes things outside of our control result in potentially deadly situations. Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking will alert you to potential collisions and, if necessary, apply emergency braking to mitigate or even prevent accidents that can result from a sudden highway stop or unexpected pedestrian traffic. Ford’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control is another highlight, using Speed Sign Recognition, Stop-and-Go capability, and Lane Centering to supplement classic adaptive cruise tech for the smoothest sailing experience available in a full-size SUV.
Some neat features that we haven’t seen in many other vehicles are included in Co-Pilot360 too. Should evasive steering be necessary, your Expedition will provide extra steering support to make it easier to execute quick maneuvers in an emergency. Automatic braking is not limited to forward collisions on the Expedition either – a Reverse Brake Assist can activate the brakes if you don’t respond to a rear cross traffic alarm in time.
The 2021 Ford Expedition – Bang for Your Buck
That only scratches the surface of everything that the 2021 Expedition has to offer. If you are the type of driver who wants an F-150 but finds yourself moving people more often than cargo, then the Expedition is the full-size SUV for you. The best-in-class towing capabilities and excellent standard safety suite only help to make Expedition an excellent pick. Even the base XLT trim can be easily dressed up with a dozen equipment packages for a truly comfortable ride.
There’s no mistaking the Expedition for a car – with its size and power, it is impossible to forget that it’s a truck. But Ford has also delivered a comfortable ride for eight passengers and taken many measures to ensure their safety. It’s probably safe to say this is one full-size SUV that is worth the price. No matter where you want to go, a 2021 Ford Expedition will get you there with ease.