Ford Motor Company’s sales pace has been severely hampered by a shortage of computer chips, which is reducing production (and sales) of many new products. With a greater emphasis on trucks and SUVs than most rivals, supply issues have created many challenges for Ford as it looks set to transform from one automaker into two, with internal combustion engine vehicles and battery electric vehicles soon to split.
For Ford, the highlight of this drama is the full-size Expedition lineup, which has been redesigned for 2022. With new rivals Jeep’s Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer and GM’s redesigned Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban/Escalade family, as well as the new Toyota Sequoia , this highly profitable (and still popular) three-row SUV segment has much more to offer consumers than ever before. New technology, new space, new powertrains and, for most, higher towing ratings mean no manufacturer can hope to cede the edge to their rivals.
So Ford created two new Expedition models for 2022 — an off-road-focused Timberline package with higher ground clearance, 33-inch all-terrain tires, a distinctive interior, and a beefier 400-horsepower version of the 3.5-liter twin-turbo. Ecoboost V-6, as well as a new Stealth Edition trim for mid-range Limited models stocked for pavement sport. The Stone Blue Stealth Limited – in long-wheelbase MAX trim – recently visited Downeast Maine.
While the base Expedition is a large, 5,800-pound, three-row SUV that measures 210 inches long and has a 122-inch wheelbase, the MAX model stretches to 222 inches with a 132-inch wheelbase. The third-row seats are power-folding, the middle seats can be triple or captain’s chairs, while all rear seatbacks fold flat for a maximum capacity of just under 130 cubic feet — about 15 cubic feet less than the latest Suburban.
The big Ford rides on a fully independent suspension that includes powerful 22-inch blacked-out sports wheels. Red brake calipers and dual rear exhausts are really the only clues to the Stealth model’s healthy engine upgrade, carrying over 440 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque from the Ecoboost twin-turbo engine. Powered by the company’s 10-speed automatic transmission developed with GM, the Expedition MAX Stealth is the fastest SUV in its segment.
EPA mileage figures are 16/22 mpg, highway mileage was 19.5 mpg during our visit, and city driving returns a strong 21.5 mpg.
The cabin is spacious, comfortable and quiet. The ride is smooth. But warn your passengers to hold on to their Dunkin’ drinks while you hit the gas pedal, unless you’re into wet cleaning.
There are hits and misses. The Expedition’s electric lift hatch allows the upper window to be opened separately from the entire gate, the massive panoramic roof creates a very airy passenger space, and electrically folding running boards help everyone get in and out gracefully. The massive 15.5-inch touchscreen (a 12-inch unit is now standard) seems overkill and seems like a late addition to the dash, while the lack of a screen at this price point and massaging seats ($84,660 as shown) seem like an understatement.
However, the subtle vibe from the Stealth Edition’s aggressive stance will please buyers who want something special without shouting about it. The grille shutters, those red brake calipers, the unique LED lighting, and the 22-inch wheels work really well with the dark metallic paint. The high-output Ecoboost V-6 runs strong, and its subtle performance compared to larger V-8 powerplants is quite surprising.
Rear-wheel drive XL Expeditions start at $55,120. The XLT trim is priced at $59,185, with all-wheel drive adding $3,000. The Limited starts at $69,345, with the Stealth package (304A) adding nearly $10,000 to the sticker. Limited includes front tow bars, tri-zone climate control, trailer sway control, heated rear seats, heated and cooled power front seats, heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera, parking sensors, FordPass connectivity, intelligent all-wheel drive with terrain selection, wireless charging, Bang & Olufsen 22-speaker audio, navigation , active noise control and more. The Stealth package also includes a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, a 3.73 rear axle ratio, a locking rear differential and an HD Class IV towing package.
Ford has struggled to get Expedition production where they want it, with F-series pickups (like the recent Lightning) driving the necessary parts. As a result, sales are down by 1/3 from 2021 – which puts the Expedition just ahead of the new Jeep Wagoneer on the sales charts and far behind GM’s family of SUVs.
Thanks to its performance and a wider range of Expedition models, Ford hopes to turn things around in 2023.
Tim Plouff has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years.