Channel your inner gentleman rancher in Ford’s King Ranch Expedition.
The King Ranch is a real ranch in Texas, and one of the largest in the world. The Ford Expedition is a real sport utility vehicle and one of the largest in the world. The similarities don’t end there. Inside and out the King Ranch Expedition bears the Running W brand that the King ranch still uses today. Inside the vehicle the brand is most prominent on the center console. It has the look of a brand, but is actually a leather cutout stitched over another leather surface. Yup, leather, two hides deep. Ford likes to point out that the Mesa Brown leather has undergone “minimal processing.” That means it will break in like a good saddle.
If you are familiar at all with the Ford Expedition, this one will be what you expect, but with most of the options already added. The Expedition is a full-size, three-row, body-on-frame big boy and makes no apologies. My tester had three across seating in the second row and the third as well, so it could handle eight passengers.
All the comforts one would expect of a luxury vehicle are included here with a few weird exceptions. Ford’s touch-screen-based infotainment system with Nav is the focal point of the dash. I found the system intuitive and very easy to operate. Synching a phone was a snap, and the menus logical. The separate HVAC controls were very welcome. No pecking through menus to make it cooler or warmer. Ford also goes with a single stalk on the steering column on the left for everything that isn’t on the dash facing the driver. That frees up space for the drivetrain selector (2H, 4A, 4H, 4L) and also for the trailer nudging system that helps one connect when towing. The large dash area means everything gets its own real estate. Ford had plenty of space to work with here and did a great job.
Like the F-150, the Expedition sports a 3.5-liter turbocharged (Ecoboosted) engine and six-speed automatic. The drivetrain is a sweetheart and offers plenty of power. There is absolutely no indication that this is not a V8. Interestingly, the Ford Ecoboost, intended to supplant a V8 and thus save fuel, does not top its competitor’s V8 fuel economy. This vehicle’s 17 MPG combined, and 20 highway rating is the same combined rating and one MPG lower than a 6.2-liter V8 Yukon Denali.
The 2015 King Ranch Expedition handles nicely as long as the speeds are kept serene. If you try to hurry the Expedition it does not really want to play. Oh, it is happy to go forward like a good muscle car, but that’s about it. Overall, the handling is better than you would ever guess looking at the vehicle. All things are relative. This is a very big object, and it does not want to change direction rapidly.
Only a few minor quibbles. This vehicle costs $62,380. Almost all the vehicles I test that cost half that price will unlock their doors when the owner grabs the door handle with the key fob in her pocket. Not this one. Either hit the button on the fob, or use the antiquated numbered keypad on the door. No thanks. The heated and cooled seats also don’t stay where you set them if you turn off and restart the vehicle. Why not? There is no auto-up/down for the front passenger window. What could that possibly cost to add? Last, every single vehicle this size should come standard with forward collision prevention with full auto braking, even if just for liability reasons. Note that not one of these small annoyances relate to the vehicle’s structure or capability.
One observation I can share having just tested the Lincoln Navigator is that this Expedition would be my choice. It is $11K less expensive, and its 20-inch wheels seem a much saner choice compared to the low-profile 22-inch rubber on the Navigator. The Navigator I tested had a wood and leather wheel, compared to the Expedition’s all-leather one and I prefer the latter. It is hard to justify the added cost for a vehicle that seems almost the same, at least to this Yankee who doesn’t really get the whole sporty wheels on a 4×4 thing. What I do get, and what anyone that looking for an eight-passenger vehicle that can tow about 9,000 pounds will get, is that the Expedition is a great value.
2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch 4×4
- Power Running Boards ($280)
- Monotone Appearance Package (N/C)
Price as tested: $62,380 Including Destination Charge
- $11,500 Less Than a Lincoln Navigator
- Competitively Priced
- Vintage Keyless Entry
- Should Have Forward Collision Mitigation With Full Auto Stop
- No Auto-Up/Down on Front Passenger’s Window