DANIELS, W.Va. -- The Ford Expedition, the last full-sized, truck-based, body-on-frame SUV in Ford's lineup, is getting a new look, a new engine and a load of new technology for the 2015 model year.
But the Expedition might not have survived at all were it not for a few places where big SUVs never went out of style -- specifically, Saudi Arabia and Texas.
Last year, Ford sold about 65,000 Expeditions globally. The United States was the largest market with 38,350 trucks sold. Of those, Texas accounted for about 8,000 Expeditions, or more than one in five. And Ford sold 22,000 Expeditions in eight Middle Eastern countries, of which Saudi Arabia accounted for the lion's share.
The Expedition last received an update in 2006 for the 2007 model year. Since then, sales have declined as consumers abandoned the segment for car-based crossovers. U.S. sales of the Expedition peaked in 1999 at 233,125.
Brian Rathsburg, Expedition marketing manager, says Ford believes the segment has stabilized now.
"People who stayed need the capability," he said last week at the press launch here.
In refreshing the Expedition, Ford started in the engine compartment, replacing the 5.4-liter V-8 engine with an EcoBoost V-6, the same engine that has been a hit with F-150 pickup customers.
The Expedition, which arrives in dealerships in mid- to late September, will come in two wheelbase lengths -- 119 inches and 131 inches -- and four trim levels: XLT, Limited, King Ranch and top-of-the-line Platinum, new for 2015.
The Expedition will feature some of Ford's latest technology, including Sync with MyFord Touch and Blind Spot Information System with cross traffic alert.
The Expedition will be the first Ford-brand vehicle to be offered with continuously controlled damping, a feature that has been offered only on Lincoln vehicles until now. The sensor-based system employs 46 body, steering and braking inputs to adjust damping in milliseconds depending on road conditions.
The Expedition also gets Ford's electric power-assisted steering to improve steering feel at high speed and improve maneuverability at low speed.
Ford has not set prices yet, but officials here said prices will increase from $500 to $3,000 depending on the trim level. The sticker price for the 2014 Expedition XLT rear-wheel-drive model starts at $39,730 and ranges up to $66,030 for a fully-loaded, extended-wheelbase King Ranch. Prices include shipping.
|U.S. sales of the Ford Expedition are far below the 1999 peak, but the SUV is still popular in Texas.|
|Source: Automotive News Data Center|