2012 Ford Expedition Review and Prices

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2010

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2012 Ford Expedition Buying Advice

The 2012 Ford Expedition is the best sport-utility vehicle for you if you want an old-school, full-size SUV for towing or hauling, or you simply prefer to pilot one of the largest and roomiest vehicles on the road -- this side of a motor home.

The 2012 Ford Expedition is the biggest SUV in Ford’s fleet and is expected to get revisions that include minor changes to styling and some cabin updates. More significant would be a new engine lineup that could include this truck’s first-ever V-6, as well as a more efficient V-8 borrowed from the F-150 pickup. Meanwhile, falling demand for Expedition’s extended-length version, the Expedition EL, might have Ford thinking about dropping that body style for model-year 2012 or 2013.

Should you wait for the 2012 Ford Expedition or buy the 2011 Ford Expedition? Wait for the 2012 Expedition. Styling changes should spruce up what’s a dated look and new engines are likely to boost fuel economy -- a little – while sacrificing few of this big wagon’s practical capabilities.

2012 Ford Expedition Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Ford Expedition is expected to receive assorted exterior and interior styling revisions as part of a moderate makeover. Its basic size and shape aren’t likely to change: no worries, the 2012 Ford Expedition will remain large, long, and boxy.

Based on a modified version of the F-150 pickup truck’s stout frame, Expedition beats out the Chevrolet Suburban by a few inches here and there to rank among the largest non-commercial vehicles on the road. The regular-length 2012 Ford Expedition will return at some 17.2 feet long, bumper to bumper, with the EL version -- should it survive -- repeating at a full 18.4 feet. The EL’s wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear axles – is foot longer, too. Most of the EL’s extra length goes to create a longer cargo bay. Note also that these Fords are nearly 7 feet tall at the top of their roof rails. Check your available garage space before committing to an Expedition.

The 2012 Expedition probably will wear a new front end featuring an updated version of Ford’s trademark three-bar grille. That would be accompanied by a more aggressive-looking lower fascia and more elegantly integrated headlamps. A revised rear end will likely have new vertical tail lamps. And the body sides may get some sculpting and more pronounced wheel arches to give the 2012 Expedition an even more muscular look.

Inside, the 2012 Ford Expedition will probably get a mildly freshened dashboard with updated gauges and a revised center stack of controls. A large center console will continue, but will likely feature additional storage capabilities.

Both 2012 Ford Expedition body lengths will again carry seven passengers on three rows of seats, or eight when the middle row is fitted with a bench seat instead of two captain’s chairs. In either configuration, the 2012 Ford Expedition will continue with comfy seating and ample head, shoulder and leg room for first- and second-row passengers. Its third row should again be adequate for the kids, but a bit cramped and difficult to access for most adults. Third-row leg room is surprisingly tight, in fact, though the EL model’s longer wheelbase means the rear wheelhousings don’t intrude as they do on the regular-length Expedition, lending rearmost passengers a welcome measure of additional hip and shoulder room. Still, this truck’s off-road ground clearance and big tires means it’ll remain in a tall climb up and into an Expedition’s cabin for shorter riders.

The 2012 Expedition’s second- and third-row seats will again fold down to expand cargo capabilities. And cargo volume the Expedition does have. The regular-length model has 18.6 cubic feet behind the third row, 55 cubic feet with the third row folded, and 108.3 with both rear rows stowed. In the Expedition EL, the cubic-foot-volume figures are 42.6, 85.5, and 130.8, respectively.  

The 2012 Ford Expedition should again be offered in multiple trim levels complemented by numerous options opportunities. Look for the base XL, volume-selling XLT, well-equipped Limited, and opulent King Ranch models to return.

Mechanical: The 2012 Ford Expedition is expected to offer new engine choices that can help bring this automotive throwback into the modern age. Out to pasture should go the long-serving 5.4-liter V-8 with its 310 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. Torque, the true force behind acceleration, is more valuable than horsepower in the world of big SUVs, and the 5.4 V-8’s output was middling in this regard, especially because it was being asked to move trucks that tipped the scales at some 6,000 pounds – before adding passengers and cargo. Unfortunately, neither of the two potential replacement engines actually has more torque than the 5.4, but each is a more modern design that should prove far more fuel efficient.

One possibility is Expedition’s first V-6, which likely would become the 2012 model’s base engine. Some reports peg this as the 3.5-liter V-6 used in the Ford Flex and Explorer crossover SUVs, but we’re betting Ford will carry over the 3.7-liter V-6 from the F-150 full-size pickup, where it’s rated at 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque.

Given its heavy-duty mission, the 2012 Expedition will certainly continue to offer a V-8, though it may become standard only on Limited or King Ranch and be the optional engine for other models. Odds are good the new V-8 would be the impressive  5.0-liter that powers the Ford Mustang GT and was added to the F-150 line for model-year 2011. Tuned for truck duty in the F-150, output is 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. With similar ratings in the 2012 Expedition, the 5.0 should enable the SUV to maintain maximum trailer-towing capacity at around 9,000 pounds, enough to pull all but the largest boats and trailers. The 5.0 also has a dual-overhead-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder design that’s more efficient than the 5.4’s single-overhead-cam, three-valves-per cylinder engineering.

There’s a third, less likely possibility, at least for model-year 2012. This would be Ford’s also-impressive twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. It’s available in the F-150, where it’s rated at 365 horsepower and, thanks to a stout 420 pound-feet of torque, can pull trailers of 11,300 pounds. However, this engine could be a relatively pricey option in the Expedition – it costs as much as $1,750 in some F-150 models -- Expedition buyers who needed such power might be more likely to gravitate to the V-8. No matter its engine lineup, expect the 2012 Expedition to retain a six-speed automatic as its sole transmission.

The 2012 Expedition will also remain true to truck tradition in its construction and drivetrain layout. Unlike crossover SUVs, which employ carlike unibody design in which the body and frame are essentially a single unit, the 2012 Ford Expedition will continue as a conventional truck-type SUV in which the body is attached to a separate, heavy-duty frame. It does, however, feature a four-wheel independent suspension; most pickups and some big SUVs still use a less sophisticated solid rear axle suspension. In combination with the long wheelbase and bump-flattening weight, this setup would again afford a relatively smooth ride. Still, the 2012 Expedition will get bouncy on uneven pavement – especially for third-row passengers – and its sheer bulk will prevent it from being easy to maneuver in many city and suburban environments. Expedition has always been at its best on the open road – the straighter the better -- where it’s a stable cruiser.  Standard and available wheel sizes should again run from 17- to 20 inches in diameter, depending on the model.

The 2012 Ford Expedition will continue with a choice of rear-drive or optional four-wheel drive (4wd). This 4wd system is fairly versatile and is adjusted by a simple dashboard knob. It can be set in an automatic mode that shifts power to the front axle to help maintain traction in changing road and weather situations. It can also be locked in 4wd mode and includes a low-range 4wd selection for off-road use.

As before, the 2012 Ford Expedition will come standard with Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability control system that works to prevent fishtailing in extreme cornering or emergency handling maneuvers. This system will again include Roll Stability Control to help prevent rollovers and Trailer Sway Control that detects trailer sway and helps counteract it by selectively applying the Expedition’s brakes and throttle. The 2012 Ford Expedition will also continue standard with antilock four-wheel-disc antilock brakes for added stability in stops. Ford may also be working to equip the 2012 Expedition with its new Curve Control technology, essentially a more sensitive AdvanceTrac system that automatically cuts engine torque and applies four-wheel braking if the driver is taking a turn too quickly.

Features: The 2012 Ford Expedition will continue with at least six airbags, including chest-protecting side-impact airbags for the driver and front passenger and head-protecting side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats; the curtain bags are designed to deploy both in side collisions and when sensors detect an impending rollover. Ford has introduced self-inflating second-row shoulder belts to the Explorer. They’re designed to help reduce head, chest and neck injuries and could be offered on the 2012 Expedition.

Expect even the base 2012 Expedition XL model to come with a nice range of amenities, including air conditioning, power windows, locks, and mirrors, keyless entry, a roof rack, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and a CD audio system.

Likely to be standard on all 2012 Expeditions except  XL will be the latest version of Ford’s Sync multimedia system that can operate various entertainment, navigation, and climate control functions entirely by voice commands and provide subscription based services like turn-by-turn navigation instructions, sports scores, and real-time traffic and weather information. Other features offered as options or included with higher trim levels will again include a power liftgate, power folding third-row seats, a rearview camera for easier and safer parking, and a remote-start function. Also returning will be power deploying running boards, adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, rain-activated windshield wipers, leather upholstery, heated power front seats, a dual-screen rear DVD entertainment system, a power moonroof, and a navigation system.

The 2012 Ford Explorer will also likely offer an adaptive cruise control system that can maintain a set speed and distance from traffic ahead as well as alert the driver and prime the brakes to full force if it senses the vehicle is approaching a stopped or slowed car too quickly. Also available should be Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS) that warns of vehicles sitting outside the driver’s field of vision or when backing out of a parking space or garage.

2012 Ford Expedition Prices back to top

Prices for the 2012 Ford Expedition weren’t available in time for this review, but we expect them to remain comparable with those of the 2011 Expedition. This suggests a 2012 Ford Expedition base-price of about $37,000-$48,000. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2011 Expedition was $925.)

Expect 2012 Ford Expedition prices for rear-drive, standard-length models to start around $37,000 for the XL, around $40,000 for an XLT, $47,000 for a limited, and $48,000 for a King Ranch. Add another $2,700 or so for extended-EL versions, and an addition $3,000 or so to get 4wd. A fully loaded top-of-the-line 2012 Ford Expedition King Ranch 4wd EL could easily crack the $60,000 mark.

In terms of individual option prices, expect to pay around $1,000 for the 5.0-liter V-8 engine, $2,200 for the voice-activated navigation system, $2,000 for the dual-screen DVD entertainment array, and about $1,000 each for a power moonroof or power-deploying running boards. Leather upholstery will add around $2,300 to the cost of higher trim-level models, with a trailer-towing package again costing around $400.

2012 Ford Expedition Fuel Economy back to top

Final EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2012 Ford Expedition weren’t available in time for this review, but we can make some estimates based on F-150 fuel-economy ratings.

Expect a 2012 Expedition with either the 3.5- or 3.7-liter V-6 to rate around 17/22 mpg city/highway with rear-wheel drive. If Ford decides this engine is capable of handling the additional 300-350 pounds of a 4wd system, a 2012 V-6 Expedition might rate 16/21 mpg with 4wd.

Anticipating the F-150’s 5.0-liter V-8, the 2012 Expedition would rate an estimated 15/20 mpg with rear-drive and 14/19 with 4wd.

By comparison, the 2011 Expedition with its 5.4-liter V-8 was rated at 14/20 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 13/18 with 4wd. The 5.4 V-8 was also tuned to run on E85, the 15-percent gasoline, 85-percent ethanol blend, or any combination of gas and E85. However, as typical with such applications, running on pure E85 reduced fuel economy markedly, in this case to 10/15 mpg with rear-drive and 9/13 with 4wd.  

2012 Ford Expedition Release Date back to top

The 2012 Ford Expedition should arrive at dealerships during September 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Ford Expedition back to top

Despite a sales jump of 25 percent during the first 10 months of 2010 compared to the same period a year earlier, Expedition remains one of Ford’s lowest-volume vehicles. As such, don’t expect Ford to invest much money to further revamp this giant SUV anytime soon. Assuming the Expedition continues in the automaker’s lineup for the long haul it would almost certainly remain based on the F-150 platform. A full redesign might come sometime after the F-150 pickup’s next major makeover, which isn’t expected until model-year 2015 or 2016.

That next-generation Expedition would be built with increased fuel economy a priority. Like every carmaker, Ford must meet the stricter federal corporate standards that fully kick in for model-year 2016. Since reducing a vehicle’s weight is the easiest and most cost-effective way to boost its fuel economy, there’s a strong possibility the next generation Expedition (and F-150, too) could be smaller and lighter current versions.

If Ford cuts enough weight, its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine could possibly supplant a V-6 as the next-generation Expedition’s standard engine. In the latest Ford Explorer crossover SUV, this engine produces 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, though by the time it goes on duty in an Expedition it could be tweaked to generate added muscle.

2012 Ford Expedition Competition back to top

Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL: These are the General Motors rivals to the Expedition. The Suburban and Yukon XL are stretched versions of the Tahoe and Yukon and in size and driving feel represent the most direct competitors for the Expedition. Any of these GM SUVs is a solid choice for the same reasons you’d buy an Expedition. All seat up to eight, though the Tahoe and regular-length Yukon have the advantage in close-quarter maneuverability, if not overall interior volume. Base powertrain should again be a 320-horsepower 5.3-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic transmission rated around 15/21 with rear- or four-wheel drive. Suburban and Yukon XL also should return in heavier-duty models available with a 352-horse 6.0-liter V-8. Also apt to return are gas/electric hybrid versions of the Tahoe and Yukon with electric assist for the 5.3 V-8 that boosts to 20/23 mpg, though at prices that start above $50,000. Estimated base-prices range is $38,500-$55,000 for Tahoe/Yukon and $41,000-$56,000 for Suburban/Yukon XL.

Nissan Armada: This full-size SUV shares its platform and components with Nissan’s Titan pickup truck and it feels as big and heavy on the road as it looks. Armada can seat seven or eight passengers, depending on the configuration, and has a lengthy list of standard and optional equipment. Expect the only available engine to again be a 5.6-liter V-8 with some 317 horsepower and a strong 385 pound-feet of torque. Estimated fuel economy is 13/19 mpg with rear drive and 12/18 with AWD. Estimated base-price range is $39,000-$54,000. Armada probably won’t be redesigned until model-year 2015, but its companion, the QX56 from Nissan’s premium Infiniti division was redone for model-year 2011 with fresh styling inside and out, a 400-horsepower 5.6, and a $57,000-$60,000 base-price range.

Toyota Sequoia: Based on the Toyota Tundra pickup truck, the Sequoia, like the Nissan Armada, is slightly larger than the regular-length Expedition (and Tahoe) but smaller than the Expedition EL (and Suburban/Yukon XL). It’s plenty roomy inside, with seating for up to eight and a maximum 120 cubic feet of cargo space with both rear rows folded. The 2012 Sequoia can be expected to again offer two engines, a 310-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 rated around 14/20 mpg or a 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 that furnishes a 10,000-pound towing capacity but is thirstier at an estimated 13/18 mpg. . Estimated base-price range is $40,000-$60,000. Assuming Sequoia continues in Toyota's lineup it should get a remake for model-year 2014 or 2015.

2012 Ford Expedition Next Steps