A mom + 3 daughters test out the 2016 Ford Expedition over 9 days, 10 states and 2,400 miles.
The 2016 Ford Expedition is a massive vehicle – there’s just no getting around that. With room to comfortably seat eight, plus ample cargo space, this is an SUV you’ll be taken seriously in on the highway, but still won’t completely break the bank when it comes to gas mileage. Safety features such as blind spot information system and rain-sensing windshield wipers make the Expedition a worthy choice for a family road trip.
I drove the Expedition on a 10-state trip from Michigan to Florida and back, with my three teen and tween daughters. The largest vehicle I’d ever driven before this trip was my minivan, so at first glance the Expedition was a bit, well intimidating. However, by the end of our time together, I hated to say goodbye and have had to endure variations on the, “I miss the Expedition!” theme from my kids as well.
If it doesn’t fit inside, you really don’t need to take it with you
One word truly describes this SUV: space. Now while we did not experience putting eight folks inside at once, there was more than enough room for four to comfortably spread out. My older girls are big enough to ride shotgun, which left each of the other two to take over the second and third rows by themselves, switching around often enough for everyone to have a chance at each seating location. The middle row exterior seats fold down easily enough for my 10-year-old to navigate into and out of the third row by herself with no trouble at all.
The only luggage that did not fit in the rear cargo compartment behind the third row seating were the multiplying bags of laundry that we amassed along our way – we didn’t bother to try fitting them in the rear but simply tossed them on the floor in the third row since we knew nobody would need to get to them until we unpacked at the end of our trip. Everything else fit easily in the cargo area, including the souvenirs and other assorted items we picked up while on the road.
Tech and safety features both moms and teens can love
My first few minutes driving the Expedition involved backing out of a parking space, navigating a parking area I wasn’t very familiar with and heading out on the freeway in Detroit. My kids’ first few minutes in the Expedition were spent locating every cup holder, USB and charging port, and determining the best Sirius satellite radio station to musically enhance our road trip (The Hits 1 station was the overwhelming winner, with Kidz Bop as a runner-up for my youngest). It took my 15-year-old exactly 30 seconds to realize that there is no charging port accessible to the third row, which was about the only complaint the girls could come up with about the vehicle, and the only reason she grudgingly gave up that row to her youngest sister from time to time (when her phone was in need of a charge, of course).
The second row boasts both a regular car charging port as well as an AC outlet, and there are two USB ports in the console between the driver and passenger seats as well. This vehicle was the Platinum style, equipped with Bluetooth, SYNC enhanced voice activation, navigation, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, Sirius satellite radio, rain-sensing front wipers, power liftgate, rear view camera, keyless entry with push button start, power running boards, power moonroof and heated and cooled front seats.
My favorite feature by far was BLIS, which notifies you via lights on the side mirrors when a vehicle is in your blind spot – this is a truly helpful feature for such a large (and long) vehicle where you can’t easily see what other vehicles are in your vicinity otherwise. My kids’ favorite features were the rain-sensing wipers (my 13-year-old couldn’t wait for it to rain to see if those actually work – they do), the power running boards (my 10-year-old was obsessed with those) and the keyless entry (my 15-year-old would run to attempt to get to the Expedition first to enter the code before I could remotely unlock the doors each time). Both of the older girls were thrilled to try out the cooling feature on the passenger seat as we got into Georgia and Florida with the increased outdoor temps. Although the second row was also equipped with heated seats, we definitely didn’t need to try those out on this trip.
Vehicle size vs. gas mileage
When I was in college, I drove a teeny car that I could throw $5 of gas in and drive everywhere I needed for a week (or more). Not only were gas prices lower back then, but with just me (or maybe a friend or two) to tote around, I didn’t need much space. Fast-forward many (cough) years and add in a husband and three kids… I drive a minivan both out of necessity and the fact that I’ve discovered I greatly prefer the extra height it gives me to see over traffic (I’m only 5’ 2” so I need all the height I can get!). While the size of the Expedition intimidated me at first, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this is a vehicle that makes other drivers take you very seriously and the added height makes seeing over other cars (and minivans) a breeze.
Of course, there’s the downside of increased vehicle size – what about gas mileage? The 2016 Ford Expedition has an estimated mileage of 14 mpg for city driving, 20 mpg for highway driving and a combined mpg of 16. The in-dash display behind the steering wheel gives the average mpg as you drive – on our trip, which involved mostly highway driving on both flat terrain and in the mountains, we got an average of about 17 mpg most of the time. It was fun to watch how the mpg would vary with changes in speed and terrain. I also appreciated the ‘miles to empty’ countdown which was extremely helpful on the road. The lowest that I let it go before filling up was nine miles to empty – I definitely didn’t want to test it any further and possibly end up stranded with three kids in the middle of the highway.
Driving from Michigan to Orlando used about 2-1/2 tanks of gas each way (counting a $50 fill-up as a ‘tank’) in the Expedition. I haven’t made a long trip like this in a car in many years (before kids) but to me, the added space for both people and cargo is worth driving a larger vehicle on a long road trip. We spent many hours in the Expedition on the road over five total driving days, but the girls weren’t squished together in a back seat and we truly enjoyed the drive together.
What we loved
- Lots of space to spread out in. Seating for eight is perfect for larger families or smaller families with lots of friends.
- Plenty of cargo room, plus the third row seating power folds down for even more cargo room if you don’t need as much seating.
- The Blind Spot Information System and rear view camera – I felt like there was an invisible ‘bubble’ around the vehicle warning me of anything approaching that I couldn’t see right away.
- Bluetooth, voice-activated navigation system, and Sirius satellite radio.
- Push button start and keyless entry.
- Power running boards and liftgate
- Height of the vehicle – easily able to see up over traffic.
- Rain-sensing front wipers that not only start when they sense rain, but speed up or slow down as the rain increases or decreases.
- The 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine easily tackled mountain terrain.
- Heating and cooling options on the driver and passenger seats.
- Power and memory settings for position of driver’s seat, pedals, steering wheel and mirrors. Although I was the only driver on this trip, there’s almost a foot height difference between me and my husband so having to manually correct all of the settings after he’s driven our minivan is endlessly annoying and frustrating (and the same for him when he needs to drive it).
- The navigation system (which we nicknamed Eva). Eva took us to Florida and back, and found gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Disney destinations and more for us along the way. Eva also routed us off the freeway to avoid long construction delays through Tennessee
What you need to know
- No charging ports in the 3rd row of seating
- Watch out for the running boards if you’re not used to them – we knocked a few shins into them during our trip
- The cup holders for the driver and passenger are located on the center console on the opposite side from the gear shift. This seems awkward and I worried about accidentally bumping the gear shift with my cup while driving. The blue LED lighting around the cupholders at night was both helpful and, according to my kids, “so cool!”
- The USB ports are located inside the center console which can be awkward if you want to keep your phone where you can easily see it.
- The size of the vehicle (we had the extended length) can make getting into and out of parking spaces challenging. I tried to park in spaces where I could pull through to exit going forward instead of having to reverse out. One tight parking lot at a hotel resulted in a lot of inching back and forth to safely exit the parking space (loved having the rear view camera to help though!)
- There is an analog speedometer – but the cruise control has digital display. Since we were mostly on the freeway, I used the cruise control almost all of the time and found it very easy to bump up or down to set at an exact speed as limits changed through different states, construction areas, etc. When not using the cruise control though it was slightly frustrating to not have a digital display to know my exact speed
- I almost think this might be too much vehicle for everyday driving for us since we do mostly city/suburb driving on a day-to-day basis – but I would absolutely drive it again on a road trip. In fact, I will miss having it whenever we do hit the road again!
- Base price: $66,025; price for the model I drove, $69,830
The Ford Expedition was provided to me for this road trip. All opinions expressed here are my own.