The 2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch edition continues to do both brands (Ford and King Ranch) proud in delivering a top notch full-size eight-passenger SUV with more power and features that provide consumers one of the most ruggedly capable, yet comfortable and premium appointed vehicles in the segment.
We recently spent a week driving a new 2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch EL (extended length) 4×4 around Central Texas to see what was new, what was the same and why this latest King Ranch is the best one yet.
First, let ’s get the numbers out of the way. The base price on our test King Ranch EL 4×4 was $62,500. It had added the power deployable running boards ($995) plus the new 22-inch wheels with King Ranch logo insert caps ($2,180) and freight ($1,195) for a delivered price of $66,990.
As we have reported before, the one thing Ford did not do for 2015 is make any major body style changes as they felt their King Ranch customer was very comfortable with the current design overall – a design that works, provides convenience with amenities and a comfortable drive, but skips some of the superfluous (frou-frou) touches found in some other brands.
2015 Expedition is still a Body-on-Frame SUV
Both King Ranch and Ford will remind you that this 2015 Ford Expedition is still a body on frame utility vehicle. It is both a serious truck and a full-size SUV – all in one – which is a key to its success. Needless to say, the King Ranch in Texas buys a lot of them for both business and personal use.
Knowing their customer, Ford has made sure that its heritage truck capability has been maintained for 2015. The new King Ranch Expedition EL 4×4 retains all of its earlier generation attributes including a class leading 9,100 pound tow capacity that is supported by the Heavy Duty Tow Package, a Load Leveling System, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, Trailer Sway Control and Integrated Trailer Brake Controller (TBC).
But there is some freshening on the King Ranch and across the line starting with a new all-wheel line for each trim and adding new 22-inch polished aluminum wheels that are found on the King Ranch EL that we tested. Other updates include new Halogen Projector Headlamps and LED Fog Lamps, a redesigned rear hatch, chrome-tipped exhaust, a redesigned the center stack and console on the inside plus new fabrics including a new Mesa Brown leather interior with wood accents on the King Ranch including stitched logo on the seating.
Power plant is the 3.5L EcoBoost V6
The big change is the power plant. No more V8, they don ’t need it. Instead, all of the 2015 Expeditions are powered by the same engine – already proven in the F-150 – the EcoBoost 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 which delivers 365 horsepower and a whopping 420 lb.-ft. of torque that easily handles up to 9,100 pounds of tow – more than many full-size pickup trucks out there.
With three row seating for up to eight plus an ability to pull the big trailer for work and camping or boat for fishing, the new Expedition meets just about every conceivable need for both work and play.
Fuel economy ratings for the EcoBoost-powered Expedition King Ranch EL 4×4 are 14/20 mpg city/highway with an expected average of 16 mpg. We drove the King Ranch EL around 300 miles during the week and averaged 17.3 mpg on mixed road types.
Ford also added four new colors: Green Gem, Blue Jeans, Bronze Fire (on our King Ranch EL) and Magnetic – plus for the King Ranch – a new Caribou exterior trim color is featured on the traditional exterior. A monotone color scheme (on our test EL) is available.
New Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD)
Our 2015 King Ranch EL had the new (a first time in a Ford) Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) suspension that allows drivers to select from three drive modes – COMFORT, NORMAL and SPORT to tailor their ride/drive experience to the road conditions and/or personal preference.
The Ford CCD uses a suite of sensors to continuously monitor 46 unique body, steering and braking inputs. From those inputs, the 2015 Expedition CCD technology analyzes the performance in relation to the road conditions to adjust suspension and steering for driver control and passenger comfort. To add to the CCD driving responsiveness, the new Expedition is equipped with a specially tuned electric power-assisted steering that reduces steering effort, improves low speed maneuverability and provides more driver feedback at high speeds.
Other Features of the Expedition King Ranch EL
Other standard features on the Expedition King Ranch EL included the Power Lift Gate, Rearview Camera, Power-Adjustable Pedals, Forward and Reverse Sensing Systems, Power/Tilt/Telescoping Steering Wheel with Audio Controls, Interior Ambient Lighting, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert, along with Remote and Push Button Start and more.
There was plenty of technology in the 2015 Expedition King Ranch EL 4×4 as well – anchored by a Sony Audio system with a 390-watt amplifier and 12-speaker set up plus an 8-inch touch screen for the SYNC with MyFord Touch infomatics function that features driver information in the gauge cluster shown on two full-color 4.2-inch screens.
The EL and Fold Flat Floor Advantage
All of the 2015 Expeditions feature a power fold flat floor advantage which is the result of its independent rear suspension (instead of the usual solid axle) that allows a lower deck height behind the front seats all the way to the back hatch.
The extended length EL has a 131-inch wheelbase compared to the standard 119-inch. With the extended length, our King Ranch EL had nearly 131 cubic feet of cargo space with second and third rows flat; almost 86 cubic feet behind the second row and still almost 43 cubic feet behind the third row.
Where we come from, that is people hauler room for a foursome of golf bags or crew bags for eight oilfield workers or even saddles and bags as needed for a gaggle of ranch hands on board.
King Ranch is Comfortable and Quiet
The King Ranch EL is remarkably quiet in the cabin – just as we experienced in the Platinum edition we drove back in July. Ford spent a fair amount of engineering effort to make the new 2015 Expedition quieter as part of the refresh – developing new and improved seals on the body that reduce air leaks by 20 percent, using new sound dampening material in the cabin pillars and packed into the center console, plus sound absorbent carpeting, headliners and door trim panels and acoustic windshield glass on all models to further reduce outside noises.
Seating comfort with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room in all three rows is another competitive advantage for the Expedition EL. The extra length plus the lower floor height gives even the third row passengers 38-inches of head and legroom which is more than some competitor ’s second rows.
MEMO: Expedition Platinum First Drive in July
Our first drive of the 2015 Ford Expedition was in July of this year when we spent part of day driving over 100 miles in the hills of West Virginia in a brand new Platinum edition clad in the new Magnetic (Graphite) color with the lush Ebony Brunello Leather interior highlighted by Agate Gray accents.
The Platinum test vehicle was not the longer EL or 4×4 as was the King Ranch we just drove. But, as the Titanium, it was extremely well equipped with the CCD system, 22-inch Polished Aluminum Wheels, Second Row Bucket Seats, Power Moonroof, Power Deployable Running Boards and Voice Activated Navigation with HD Radio.
The new standard 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine and power train performed exceptionally well in the Platinum – maximizing the 365 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque up, down, and along the two lane roads and interstates of West Virginia. Using the CCD driver selectable Drive Mode system in SPORT most of the way, we found acceleration and shift control points performed beyond our expectations on the mountain roads of West Virginia.
We did not have pricing on this Platinum at the time of the drive. But, using the ‘Build & Price ’ feature on the Expedition web site, we estimate the sticker price for that vehicle (including delivery) at $63,795. As a Platinum EL in a 4×4 configuration like the King Ranch we just drove, it would price at $67,845.