Why the 2018 Ford Expedition is a real off-roader
With its new FX4 package, Ford is proving it hasn’t forgotten the off-roading faithful that put a premium on their SUV’s performance rather than its appearance.
In the race to capitalize on the crossover trend, it can be all too easy for car companies to forget that there is a sizable group of drivers that have always been SUV owners because of what these cars are capable of doing in challenging conditions.
For example, on the all-new Hyundai Kona B-Segment SUV that officially launched this week, four-wheel drive is an option, while on the equally new Toyota C-HR, all power is routed exclusively to the front wheels.
But with the new Expedition FX4 Off-Road Package, Ford is demonstrating that it hasn’t forgotten these drivers. Announced Friday, it’s a suite of upgrades that have been specifically developed to ensure that serious off-road enthusiasts can head off the beaten track with supreme levels of confidence. And it was developed because 20 percent of its traditional Expedition customer base are frequent off-road adventurers.
So, the full-size, eight-seat SUV gets an electronic limited-slip rear differential with special gearing so that as well as helping to improve grip, it also optimizes towing capabilities. The shock absorbers are stiffer to reduce bounce and rebound over potholes and rocky surfaces, and the wheels are wrapped in all-terrain tire with better sidewalls.
To keep the car in one piece and to avoid underside damage, the car is fitted with seven skid plates that shield the engine, intercooler, transfer case, fuel tank and steering box, and the finishing touch is a rugged rubber floor liner that can be easily removed from the cabin and cleaned.
All of these features are in addition to the car’s standard electronic terrain management system, 3.5-liter, 350hp EcoBoost engine, 10-speed automatic gearbox and manual 2WD/4WD selector.
“The FX4 Off-Road package delivers off-road driving confidence,” said Mike Kipley, Expedition vehicle engineering manager. “The technology we’re using works to adapt to different driving conditions so customers can enjoy the adventure without worry.”
The Ford Expedition FX4 will go on sale later this year. JB