Full 2008 Ford Expedition Review
What's New for 2008
The 2008 Ford Expedition's trim levels have been expanded this year with the addition of the King Ranch edition featuring special wheels, leather and interior trim. Additionally, all Expeditions gain a standard keyless entry keypad, auxiliary air-conditioning and an overhead console. A rearview camera becomes an option on all but the base XLT model.
Sales of traditional full-size SUVs have fallen in the past couple of years as consumers have downsized to more maneuverable and fuel-efficient cars and crossover SUVs. While an understandable development, those still wanting a traditional SUV will find the 2008 Ford Expedition to be about as modern and easy to live with as big sport-utes get. An extensive update last year brought a wealth of changes, including a revised suspension design, added power for the V8 engine and an efficiency-boosting six-speed automatic transmission. Updated steering made the Expedition easier to pilot, and the interior was restyled and quieted down. Finally, a substantial price cut resulted in a sticker that starts down around $30,000.
We were impressed with the result. While no one would confuse the Expedition with a car, its behavior on the road is accessible, almost agile. It steers with ease and accuracy, and its ride quality is refined thanks to one of the few all-independent rear suspensions in the full-size SUV class. Overall, we found the Expedition to move with a grace that belies its 3-ton curb weight.
Furthermore, the Expedition comes out ahead of its peers in comfortably seating a full load of passengers -- presumably a key selling point for vehicles this huge. We found the Expedition's seats to be among the most comfortable to sit in and the easiest to fold down -- both a pleasant contrast to, say, the cramped, non-folding third-row bench in the Chevrolet Tahoe. Another prime attraction of traditional SUVs is towing ability, and the Expedition does well here, too, with a considerable 9,200-pound maximum towing capacity.
Of course, the Expedition isn't without its faults. It's still a gas-guzzler, not only in general but also in this already thirsty class. Further, the interior controls and displays aren't always easy to read or use, and some plastics feel cheap. Still, all things considered, the Expedition compares favorably in its class. True, the Chevrolet Tahoe might ride a bit smoother and the Nissan Armada might have more off-road prowess. But the Expedition covers all the bases of a full-size SUV, and its comfortable, easy-to-fold third-row seat makes it the king at carrying both people and cargo. When one also factors in its lower-than-average price tag, the 2008 Ford Expedition stands tall as a prime choice for a full-size SUV.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A full-size, body-on-frame SUV, the 2008 Ford Expedition is available in four trim levels: XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited and new King Ranch. The well-equipped XLT model seats five and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, running boards, a Class III trailer hitch, air-conditioning (with rear controls), a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack, front captain's chairs, a power driver seat, cruise control and full power accessories. Next up is the Eddie Bauer, which adds 18-inch wheels, gold body cladding and running boards, a power-folding third-row seat, leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded sound system with an in-dash CD changer, power front seats with driver memory, and steering-wheel audio controls. Topping that is the ritzy Expedition Limited with its 18-inch chrome wheels, monochromatic paint job, rear parking sensor, power rear quarter windows, perforated leather seats with heating and cooling elements up front, a wood/leather-trimmed steering wheel and power adjustable pedals. Finally, there's the new King Ranch edition, which is mostly equivalent to the Limited but wears its own 18-inch wheels, upgraded "Chaparral" leather upholstery in all three rows and wood trim.
Major options include 20-inch chrome wheels, a manually folding third-row seat for the XLT (increasing seating capacity to eight), second-row captain's chairs, a moonroof, a rear DVD entertainment system, satellite radio, a load-leveling rear air suspension and a Class IV towing package. Exclusive to the Eddie Bauer, Limited and King Ranch are a navigation system, a power liftgate and a rearview backup camera. Expedition XLT buyers can also get an off-road package with skid plates and tubular step bars.
Powertrains and Performance
All Expeditions come standard with a 5.4-liter V8 making 300 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque, matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. Two-wheel or four-wheel drive (with low-range gearing) is offered. An Expedition 4WD we tested accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, a decent time for this class. Ford's full-size SUV can tow a 9,200-pound trailer when properly equipped.
All major safety equipment is standard on the 2008 Ford Expedition, including antilock disc brakes with brake assist and a rollover-sensing stability control system. Airbag coverage includes seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants and all-row side curtain airbags. Rear parking sensors and power-adjustable pedals are optional across the line; the pedals have a memory feature on Eddie Bauer and Limited models.
The Ford Expedition received a five-star frontal-impact rating in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests for both the driver and front passenger.
Interior Design and Special Features
Expeditions can seat anywhere from five to eight passengers, depending on configuration. The standard second-row bench seat has a 40/20/40 split and the middle section can be moved forward for easier access to an infant. Opting for the second-row captain's chairs drops seating capacity to seven but earns a storage console between the seats.
The Expedition's 60/40-split third-row seat is perhaps the most comfortable in the full-size SUV class, with an agreeable height and adult-sized space. It folds flat with a quick and easy release handle in XLT models or powers up and down at the press of a button in the higher trims. As expected, there's not much cargo room behind the third-row seat (18.6 cubic feet), but folding it increases that to 54.9. Folding down the second-row expands it all the way to 108.2, nearly as much room as the Chevrolet Tahoe offers with its rear seats removed. Best of all, folding down both rear rows creates a perfectly flat load floor.
The Expedition's cabin has up-to-date electronics and a generally modern feel, though there are quite a few small, cheap-feeling buttons that are hard to tell apart at a glance. One family-friendly touch is the overhead conversation mirror in all but the XLT model -- a valuable tool for keeping tabs on squabbling siblings.
Drive a 2008 Ford Expedition and you might even be impressed by its handling. For such a big and heavy vehicle, its steering response and general composure are pleasing. Ride quality is fairly smooth (more so with a full load aboard), though the big Ford isn't as plush on the highway as some competitors. Despite some noticeable noise from the tires, the Expedition's cabin remains quiet enough to carry on a conversation. The V8 offers solid acceleration in most situations and delivers its power in a smooth manner. The six-speed automatic generally makes good use of the V8's reserves but occasionally has difficulty finding the right gear during passing maneuvers.