Jun 19, 2017
Ford creates off-road version of its biggest SUV
Ford will add an FX4 off-road version of its big Expedition SUV when the version goes on sale later this year.
The FX4 trim level is popular on Ford's F-150 pickup. The automaker expects it to account for 5% to 10% of Expedition sales when the new, aluminum-body model goes on sale in late fall.
The idea of giving off-road capability to the full-size SUV began in the Middle East, where the Expedition is popular for driving through the soft, deep sand of the Arabian Peninsula. Ford created the FX4 model for that region and then decided some American buyers will also want it.
Ford will announce prices and fuel economy ratings for the 2018 Expedition closer to when sales begin.
The Expedition's heroic proportions -— the short-wheelbase 2017 Expedition was 16.2 inches longer than a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Ford family didn't get rich by shrinking their SUVs from one generation to the next -— preclude off-roading on trails like the famously twisty and grueling Rubicon, but Expedition owners tend to be more interested in towing capacity than exploring the back country.
Buyers are more likely to choose the Expedition FX4 to be admired on the road than to leave it. They take trailer towing seriously, though, and the 2018 Expedition's 9,300-pound towing capacity is up 100 pounds from the steel-bodied 2017.
The FX4 package includes:
•An electronic limited-slip rear differential that varies power between the right and left rear wheels for low-traction surfaces like fine, deep desert sand.
•Off-road shocks tuned stiffly to keep the wheels planted on the ground in aggressive driving.
•All-terrain tires with thicker sidewalls to soften the ride despite the stiff shocks.
•Seven skid plates and sand shields to keep sand from clogging the radiator, transmission cooler, and turbocharger intercoolers.
•Unique 18-inch metallic painted cast aluminum wheels.
•Chrome running boards,
•Removable rubber floor liners.
All Expedition models will have the 10-speed automatic transmission that debuted on the 2017 F-150 pickup. The Expedition's 3.5L twin turbo Ecoboost V-6 engine gains 10 horsepower on XL, XLT and Limited models. Output increases 35 horsepower using premium gasoline in the top Platinum trim level. Ford builds the Expedition in Louisville, Ky.
The F-150 pickup also gets some engine upgrades this fall. The 10-speed transmission will be available with more engines. A 3-liter diesel V-6 will join the F-150 lineup next spring.
by Mark Phelan