THE 2012 FORD EXPEDITION EL REVIEW
Full Review by Andy: A Truck for a Beautiful America
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
What America is Katharine Lee Bates describing? Ask one of the 250 million Americans who dwell in an urban area, and he or she describes a far different America. Majestic mountains are replaced by fields of steel colossuses, meandering streams are superseded by drainage pipes, and spacious skies brim with thundering jets. Bates’ country is fast disappearing as Americans migrate to the cities. Who needs the diverse capabilities of the 2012 Ford Expedition EL when everything a mind could conjure is five blocks south? For those to whom amber waves of grain is not a song lyric but a paying job, here is a vehicle Bates might appreciate: the Ford Expedition EL.
What Does It Look Like?
The Expedition EL measures 18.5 feet in length, approximately 3.5 longer than a Ford Focus. In stock condition, it weighs a few ticks under three tons. It employs a body-on-frame construction. In other words, the Expedition EL is a three-ton truck, and it is huge. The blocky and brawny body is accented by roof rails and running boards. Available two-tone exterior color schemes delineate the Ford Expedition from its two main competitors, the GMC Yukon XL and the Chevrolet Suburban.
Trappings & Trimmings
In the Ford Expedition, durability and utility surpass out-and-out hedonism. Base models are slathered in hard plastics, which prove resistant but dowdy. Upper echelon trims add bits of leather and wood trim, but do little to alleviate the sea of obtrusive polymers and their cargo van-esque architecture. However, all trims come with a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
Packin’ a Powertrain
In the Ford Expedition EL, a torque-laden 5.7-liter V8 cranks out 310 horsepower and a hefty dose of 365 lb-ft of twist. Power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission, which does not offer paddle shifters to assist in towing. Rear-wheel drive is standard; full-time four-wheel drive with a low-speed transfer case is optional. Properly equipped, the Expedition can lug 8,900 pounds and can haul a massive 1,580 pounds. Slurping regular fuel, it achieves 14/20 mg with RWD and 13/18 with 4WD, the same as its non-EL sibling and analogous to the base GMC Yukon XL.
Tidbit: Pound-feet (lb-ft) is the British unit for torque. Foot-pounds (ft-lbs) is the British term for work of which torque is a subset. Torque is also measured in Newtons-meters or joules per radian.
As body-on-frame SUVs go, the Expedition EL is a capable performer. It has adequate power for towing large loads on hilly terrain, and its steering system communicates road conditions during towing. Thanks to the independent suspension, ride quality is up to snuff for long trips. Engine noise and highway noise are kept where they belong: outside. However, the GMC Yukon XL offers more powerful engines and similar ride quality.
Standard safety features include front foglamps; four-wheel ABS ventilated disc brakes with EBD; MyKey, which allows parents to set stereo volume and speed limits for teenage drivers, and a full gamut of airbags. A rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, and parking sensors are standard on one or more upper trims. Full crash test ratings are not yet available.
Comfort & Cargo
Cargo is what a full-size SUV does best. Comfort is a casual afterthought. The extended wheelbase Expedition has the same seating arrangement as the regular Expedition – which is good, considering the Expedition already has some of the most spacious accommodations in the class. But the Expedition EL adds an extra 23 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and has larger doors for easier third-row access. All told, the SUV has 130.8 cubic feet of maximum carrying capacity, almost as much as a Ford Transit Connect van. The second-row seats recline, while both the second-row and the third-row benches fold flat into the floor.
The 2012 Ford Expedition EL is available in the same trims as the regular Expedition: XL ($40,055), XLT ($41,850), Limited ($47,920), and King Ranch ($49,430). The base XL is quite well-equipped, lacking only Bluetooth connectivity and a USB/iPod interface. Along with those features, the XLT has power-adjustable pedals, SYNC, steering wheel-mounted controls, etc. Rolling on upgraded 20-inch wheels, the luxurious Limited has everything from a power liftgate and eight-way power-adjustable, heated, cooled, leather-upholstered front seats with memory functions to a deluxe sound system and dual-zone automatic climate control. The topnotch King Ranch trim repackages the Limited’s features in western-style decor.
Like Bates’ America? Drive the 2012 Ford Expedition EL.
Engine: 5.4-liter V8
Horsepower & Torque: 310 hp @5,100 rpm, 365 lb-ft of torque @3,600 rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 13/18 mpg – 14/20 mpg
Base MSRP: $40,055
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