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2012 Ford Expedition

Base MSRP: $36,530 to $52,330
Reviewed
April 2012
by ConsumerSearch
2012 Ford Expedition

Practical full-size SUV whose engine is an also-ran

Pros
  • Good tow capacity
  • Cargo space
  • Seating for up to 8
  • Comfortable seating
  • Interior flexibility
  • Commendable ride quality
Cons
  • Unimpressive fuel economy
  • Competitors more powerful
  • Lackluster interior
  • Mediocre stopping distances

Like many of the largest SUVs on the market today, the 2012 Ford Expedition (Base MSRP: $36,530 to $52,330) is a carryover design that has not changed for several years; in fact, its last major redesign was 2007. Even so, experts have many positive things to say about the 2012 Expedition and the extended-length Expedition EL variant.

A solid all-around performer

In addition to the expected strengths of powerful towing and good cargo capacity, the Expedition performs well in less-expected areas such as interior quality and ride quality (for its size, that is). While reviewers most often choose the Expedition's major competitors like the 2012 Toyota Sequoia (Base MSRP: $40,930 to $61,805) and the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe ((Base MSRP: $38,530 to $55,850)) as the top choices in the large SUV category, the Expedition is universally considered a solid alternative.

In standard guise, all Ford Expeditions can tow up to 6,000 pounds. Adding the available heavy-duty towing package, however, markedly increases the maximum tow capacity. Depending on body style (standard or EL) and drivetrain choice (two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive), the tow capacity runs from 8,700 to 9,200 pounds. Generally though, reviewers prefer the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe and the 2012 GMC Yukon (Base MSRP: $39,860 to $57,780), which offer similar towing capability but edge the Expedition in a few other areas.

Just one V8, and it's down on muscle

Many experts single out the relatively weak 5.4-liter V8 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Experts say that the engine power is sufficient in most scenarios, but Edmunds.com echoes the sentiments of most reviewers when it notes that the "performance suffers when you've packed up the Expedition with a full load of passengers and cargo or you're towing a trailer, much less both." There are no optional engine upgrades offered, which disappoints some reviewers. The Ford's V8 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and delivers an EPA-estimated 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway/16 mpg combined when equipped with two-wheel drive; 4x4 models deliver 1 mpg less in city and combined, and 2 mpg less on the highway.

Comfortable and easy to drive

Reviewers say the Ford Expedition is a pleasing drive given its jumbo size. "Despite the tall seating position, the driving impression feels connected to the road, helped in no small part by steering with a good degree of precision," says Kelly Blue Book. "Over-the-road comfort is good and the handling feels balanced." The smooth ride is compared favorably to the best-in-class Toyota Sequoia. Experts say that the Ford Expedition and Expedition EL perform commendably on surfaces other than pavement, too. A Motor Trend comparison test highlights this fact, saying that the Expedition "handled snow with aplomb" in testing. Ground clearance of 8.7 inches certainly helps in that regard.

Good cargo room, interior quality

Both the Expedition and the Expedition EL can carry eight passengers. The Expedition EL is longer by 15 inches, which translates into more cargo room behind the third-row seat. With all the seats down, the Expedition EL has a cargo capacity of 130.8 cubic feet, and the regular Expedition can carry 108.3 cubic feet. It's worth noting that many of today's larger midsize crossovers can carry as much as the Expedition in terms of cargo and passengers, and do so while delivering better fuel economy.

Critics like the Expedition's interior, particularly in the high-end King Ranch trim level, which adds many options and upgraded interior materials, including leather on the seats and dashboard. Interior quality on the lower Expedition trim levels is good overall, if not as good as the competing Toyota Sequoia. William Montgomery from TheTruthAboutCars.com calls the fit and finish "remarkable."

Rearmost seats fold flat, unlike GM rivals

Standard equipment on the base XL model includes fog lights, heated mirrors, a six-speaker stereo with CD player, cruise control, front and rear air conditioning, and keyless entry. Higher trim levels include or offer niceties such as Ford's Sync infotainment system, leather seating, and heated front and rear seats. Of all the interior features, reviewers often cite the folding third-row seat as a favorite; the rearmost seats fold flat into the cargo floor (and on some trim levels, that action can be performed via a motorized push-button mechanism). The Expedition's convenient third-row seating stands in contrast to that of the Chevrolet Tahoe, from which one must completely remove and store the third-row seats to achieve maximum cargo capacity.

Untested by NHTSA and IIHS

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tested the Expedition's crash worthiness. Front and side airbags are standard, as are full-length side curtain airbags. Electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes and trailer sway control are standard as well.

Reliability is expected to be average based on information from a leading consumer publication. Furthermore, ConsumerGuide.com considers overall performance to be good enough to merit its Best Buy commendation.

Solid, if you don't mind the weaker engine

The 2012 Ford Expedition is a solid overall choice in the large SUV segment, especially given its slightly lower base price than the competition. Ultimately, its modestly powered engine is the primary weakness compared to its competitors, most of which offer a choice of powertrains.

Where To Buy

Our Sources

1. Edmunds.com

Overall Edmunds.com finds the Expedition to be a solid choice but says it's ultimately topped by its primary competitors, the 2012 Toyota Sequoia and the 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe. Editors cite the weaker V8 engine as a primary drawback.

Review: 2012 Ford Expedition SUV, Editors of Edmunds.com, Jan. 13, 2012

2. ConsumerReports.org

ConsumerReports.org tested the Expedition (in EL guise) back in 2007, but the SUV has not significantly changed since then. The road test provides editors' impressions on the driving experience, ride, interior and available safety features. ConsumerReports.org also provides unique reliability and owner satisfaction data.

Review: Full-Size SUVs and Cargo Room, Editors of ConsumerReports.org

3. FuelEconomy.gov

Compared to the large SUV competition the Ford Expedition falls about mid pack in terms of efficiency. Fuel economy is slightly better in the two-wheel drive version (16 mpg combined) than the four-wheel drive version (15 mpg combined). Unless you have a need for the additional towing capacity of a large SUV, you can find equally competent midsize SUVs that also get superior fuel economy.

Review: 2012 Sport Utility Vehicles, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy

4. SaferCar.gov

The 2012 Ford Expedition has not been fully tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the agency does provide a rollover resistance rating for the identical 2011 model year. The four-wheel drive version gets 4 stars out of 5 for rollover resistance, while the two-wheel drive version gets a 3-star rating.

Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

5. Truck Trend

Truck Trend compares the 2007 Chevrolet Suburban with the 2007 Ford Expedition EL. Unlike other comparisons, there is no winner selected here. Although the article is a bit dated, it focuses primarily on the towing experience of these two models, something most outlets don't emphasize.

Review: Full-Size SUV Comparison: 2007 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 LTZ vs. 2007 Ford Expedition EL Limited, G.R. Whale, Feb. 2007

6. Motor Trend

There have been no recent, significant comparison tests of large SUVs, primarily because most models have received only minor changes in the last four years. This Motor Trend comparison from 2008 compares the most popular large SUVs, including the 2008 Ford Expedition. The Expedition is ranked third of four here. Reviewer Ron Kiino applauds the interior amenities and options in the King Ranch trim level he sampled, but he says driving dynamics are behind the curve compared to the Nissan and Toyota.

Review: Comparison: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2008 Ford Expedition vs. 2008 Nissan Armada vs. 2008 Toyota Sequoia, Ron Kiino, April 2008

7. Kelley Blue Book

Editors find that the Expedition EL drives smoothly for a truck of its size and say it's a good option for towing. They lament that unlike the competition, there are no additional engine options beyond the base 5.4-liter V8.

Review: 2010 Ford Expedition EL, Editors of Kelley Blue Book, Not Dated

8. ConsumerGuide.com

Road test reviews here are very brief, devoting a handful of sentences to each aspect of the car and then assigning a score on a 1-10 scale for ease of comparison with other vehicles. Despite the lack of detail, they do offer a good snapshot of the pros and cons of each vehicle. Editors find the 2012 Ford Expedition to be great for towing and accommodating passengers, giving it a Best Buy recommendation.

Review: 2012 Ford Expedition: Road Test, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, Not Dated

9. TheTruthAboutCars.com

This is a brief, older review of the 2008 Ford Expedition King Ranch, a more expensive trim model. There have been no significant changes since 2008 for the Expedition, so the findings still apply. The reviewer is impressed with the interior fit and finish, but like others, he notes that the engine feels weaker than competitors' offerings.

Review: 2008 Ford Expedition King Ranch Review, William C. Montgomery, April 2, 2008

Large SUVs Runners Up:

2012 Chevrolet Suburban (Base MSRP: $41,995 to $57,890)

5 picks including: About.com, ConsumerGuide.com…

2012 Chevrolet Tahoe (Base MSRP: $38,530 to $55,850)

4 picks including: ConsumerGuide.com, FuelEconomy.gov…

2012 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class (Base MSRP: $61,570 to $85,300)

3 picks including: ConsumerGuide.com, FuelEconomy.gov…

2012 GMC Yukon Base MSRP: $39,860 to $57,780

3 picks including: ConsumerGuide.com, FuelEconomy.gov…

2012 Ford Expedition Base MSRP: $36,530 to $52,330

2 picks including: ConsumerGuide.com, FuelEconomy.gov…

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