What's New for 2008
The 2008 Ford Expedition EL gains the King Ranch trim level, a few more standard features (including keyless entry keypad, leather-wrapped steering wheel and auto-dimming rearview mirror) and a few new options (rearview camera and power-deployed running boards). Furthermore, the base XLT trim gets a monochrome look consisting of color-keyed bumpers, side moldings and wheel lip moldings.
Although environmentalists concerned about finite fuel sources and commuters tired of dealing with rolling roadblocks may have applauded the death of the gargantuan Ford Excursion a few years ago, it left the blue oval boys in a jam. The company had nothing left in its lineup to battle GM's supersized SUVs, namely the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. Last year, Ford took care of that problem by bringing out a stretched version of the Expedition (and no, we're not talking about one of those goofy limos you see cruising to senior prom). To counter the biggies from GM, Ford added a foot to the standard Expedition's wheelbase and nearly 15 inches to its overall length to create the Expedition EL. So done, the EL (Extended Length) is virtually identical in size to those GM utes.
The 2008 Ford Expedition EL sees minimal changes, essentially a handful of new features added as either standard or optional. Highlights include a rearview camera, power-deployed running boards and a keyless entry system that uses a keypad mounted on the door. Unfortunately, Ford didn't do anything about what's underneath the Expedition EL's hood. Unlike GM's big utes, the Ford is only available with a single engine choice: the workhorse 5.4-liter V8 that's rated for 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Although those are respectable numbers, the EL's rivals offer considerably more available power and weigh less as well. The end result is that this Expedition's performance when loaded up can be sluggish at higher speeds, such as when merging or passing on the freeway.
Handling and ride are this Ford's forte, as both are impressive and best the GM full-sizers. The Expedition EL gives up a bit of maximum cargo capacity to them, but those who plan on using a third-row seat should know that the Ford is more user-friendly in that regard, as it folds flat (versus having to be physically removed). There's also considerably more legroom for those in the way back thanks to the Expedition's lower floor (made possible by running the driveshafts through the frame rails).
Finally, the 2008 Ford Expedition may offer a price advantage. Although the Ford's top trim levels are comparably priced to competitors' upper trims, the entry-level Expedition EL XLT is a few grand less than anything else in its class. It may not be the fastest big SUV around, but its ease of usability and comfortable demeanor make the 2008 Ford Expedition EL worth an expedition to your nearest Ford dealer.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Ford Expedition EL is a long-wheelbase version of the standard Expedition. It is available in four trim levels: XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch. The XLT is well-equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, running boards, a keyless entry keypad, power/heated side-view mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, air-conditioning (front and rear), full power accessories, a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio input jack, front captain's chairs (with power adjustment for the driver), a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cruise control.
The Eddie Bauer adds two-tone exterior paint, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded sound system with a CD changer, leather seating, a 10-way power driver seat with memory, a six-way power passenger seat, a power-folding third-row seat and a trip computer.
Stepping up to the Limited means getting the Eddie Bauer's equipment plus chrome wheels, a monochromatic paint job, perforated leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a 10-way power front passenger seat, a wood/leather-trimmed steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals and reverse parking sensors. This year's new Expedition XL King Ranch trim adds unique wheels, gold-painted exterior accents, mirror-mounted signal repeaters and puddle lights, a saddle-like leather upholstery scheme and steering-wheel-mounted audio and climate controls.
Option highlights include second-row captain's chairs (which reduce maximum seating from eight to seven), a sunroof, a rear DVD entertainment system, satellite radio, a power liftgate, a navigation system, a rearview camera and power-deployed running boards. Some of the more upscale options, such as the navigation system, are restricted to the higher trims.
Powertrains and Performance
A 5.4-liter V8 that makes 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque powers every Expedition EL. No other engine choices are offered. The 5.4 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that allows manual-style shifting if desired. All trims can be had in either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (with low-range gearing). Fuel economy testing hasn't been done on the Expedition EL, though given the EL's greater weight, we'd expect a couple of mpg less than the standard (2WD) Expedition's ratings of 12 city and 18 highway. Properly equipped, the Expedition EL's maximum towing capacity stands at 9,000 pounds for the 2WD version and 8,750 for the 4WD version.
Antilock disc brakes (with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist), stability control with rollover protection, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard across the line. In National Highway Safety Administration crash testing, the 2008 Ford Expedition EL received a five-star frontal-impact rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Expedition EL's cabin boasts an attractive design and easy-to-use controls. A few points are lost because of some low-grade plastic trim but overall fit and finish is good and a number of clever features make this SUV ideal for large families. The second-row bench seat has a 40/20/40 split and allows you to scoot the middle section close to the front seats for easier access to a baby. If you opt for the second-row captain's chairs, seating capacity drops to seven, though you do get a storage console between those seats. A standard parabolic conversation mirror mounted in the overhead console allows you to keep tabs on feisty kids. The third-row seat can accommodate adults, and when you need the cargo room, it folds flat in a convenient 60/40 split.
The EL offers 42.6 cubic feet of luggage space with the third row in use. If that's not enough, you can fold one or both of the seat's 60/40 sections flat into the floor. (They're power controlled on all but the XLT.) With the third row down, there are a generous 85.5 cubic feet of cargo space available. When it's time to move the kid to college, flip down the second and third rows and you'll have nearly 131 cubes.
Drive a 2008 Ford Expedition EL and you'll likely be impressed by its smooth ride and agile handling. It's still a big vehicle and demands that you respect it as such, but its steering response, controllability and general composure are quite good for a full-size SUV. From behind the wheel, the Expedition EL's hefty 6,000-pound curb weight is apparent, and even with 300 hp on tap, advance planning is required for highway passing attempts. The six-speed automatic makes the most of the engine's power band, but sometimes falters when choosing the right gear in passing situations.