Road Trip to Wrigley Field!

6367262_origHow does one test one of the largest SUV’s on the planet? You take it on a family vacation and drive 2,500 miles and see what happens.

I’ve driven over a million miles in my short lifetime all over America. I was raised on road trips, from the Sunday drive to driving vacations. My grandmother told me once she drove across America (and Europe) because you miss so much flying. Of course this is coming from a woman who was driving a 1969 Cadillac Coup de Ville convertible and pulling an Airstream trailer to see America.

I’ve owned and driven large SUVs such as numerous Suburbans and even the worst SUV ever built, the Infiniti QX56 (that story is too long to write). Large SUVs make road trips fun for the family because everyone has enough room to stretch out and of course the cargo area is loaded from front to back and side to side. Got to make it count right?

Our ride this time was the 2015 Ford Expedition EL Platinum 4X4 with EcoBoost. I’ve driven this SUV before, but not at a distance of 2,500 miles. This is a true road test. So here we go!

Our route was Houston, Texas to Chicago, Illinois and all interstate, 1,200 miles each direction. First, the cargo area. With four adults, we folded the power third row to maximize our space for luggage and hanging up clothes in the back. One note to Ford, please put the clothes hooks in the back on a rail system so they can be moved to allow multiple configurations of packing luggage. The rear cargo area is massive! Loved it! We had our snacks and drinks behind the second row seat and you can fold down the middle seat for easy access to the back cargo area.

Secondly, the cockpit area or what we call the driver seat is where I spend most of my time. I’m one of the hardest people to please when it comes to a driving position. I want everything in its proper place and within an arm’s reach. The 2015 Ford Expedition’s driver area is fantastic! The tilt/telescopic steering wheel and with ample leg room, I was able to create a driving position that allowed a 6’ person to sit behind me without a complaint about legroom. I was comfortable and never experienced any leg or lower back cramping. Also, my shoulders never got stiff, which only happens if you drive with your legs extended and you have to reach for the steering wheel putting pressure on the shoulders moving slightly forward. I’m what you call a long haul driver. I’ve driven for hours solo and the driving position needs to be close to perfect. This Expedition allows you to fine tune the position and it doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you will find the perfect seating position. And let’s not forget the power pedals that can be moved forward for shorter folks.

I love the steering wheel design. There are many spots to place your hands without getting fatigued. There are numerous bits of information available at your fingertips with the info buttons on the steering wheel and it easily becomes the command center. The cruise control buttons allowed me to adjust my speed without hitting the brake pedal. The cruise control was very precise and I used the digital speedo a lot with the cruise control.

The steering wheel allowed me to switch back and forth to check many engine management systems from the fuel mileage gauge, suspension and even the tach. I changed the suspension settings (Sport, Normal, Comfort) while driving to fit the road surface. Not one complaint from the passengers, but I’m still trying to figure out why this SUV has a Sport suspension mode. It’s stiff, but it handles like it’s on rails! Let just say I put it to the test. There are three banked turns on I-55 going through the middle of Jackson, Mississippi that I knew was a perfect place to test it and it handled like a big sports car through those turns. My favorite was the Normal mode as it was the best of both worlds for handling and ride comfort. When the interstate got a rough due to America’s old pavement, the Comfort mode came in very handy.

How does the FordSync system work? Fantastic! The most common uses are Entertainment, Climate, and Navigation. Entertainment area is self explanatory. Anyone can work it without reading the manual. Your smartphone will be perfectly at home and nothing charges a cell phone faster than a Ford vehicle! There are four USB ports and each passenger was able to keep full power on the cell phones. The sound system is Sony-based and sounds great! It’ll definitely make any live recordings sound like the musicians are sitting next to you giving you a personal performance.

Navigation in the FordSync system worked like a charm. It came in handy when navigating downtown Chicago and looking for expensive daily parking. Navigation isn’t just to tell you how to get somewhere, it’s to tell you what is around you and in this case, parking lots. There were so many street closures and detours in Chicago that the navigation system actually kept up with all the changes.

The Climate controls are self-explanatory and this system will keep you cold or warm and everything in between. The best part is the AC/Heated seats. When you are on a long road trip, one needs to learn a bit of health info. On long drives, a bit of heat will help keep the lower back muscles from getting tight and the AC will keep you cool and keep your attire from sticking to you on those extreme hot days. We left Houston with 100+ degree temps and Chicago treated us to 50 degree nights. So we were allowed to fully test the AC/Heated seats and they should be standard in all vehicles!

Let’s get to the engine. Ford’s EcoBoost is a 3.5 liter V6 and is the only engine option for the Expedition, in this case the Expedition EL 4X4. I once owned a 2003 Expedition with the 5.4 Triton V8 and I don’t miss it at all! The EcoBoost gives you everything you could ask for when it comes to power, fuel economy and more. The EcoBoost gives you instant throttle response and the power comes on so fast that you are at highway speed and blending into traffic from onramp to freeway/highway in no time. Its power is smooth and can give you a bit of a rush as Ford did their homework and has come up with an engine design that at this point can’t be matched by any other automaker.

The fuel mileage of a large SUV is nothing to brag about, but with the EcoBoost I can’t stop bragging about it! We averaged 20mpg in combined city/highway and we were able to keep a consistent 23.5mpg on the highway and that’s the only number that matters to me. With a 28 gallon fuel tank and a 660 mile range we only needed two gas stops to make from Houston to Chicago. My Toyota 4Runner would need four gas stops to cover that distance and it has a 24 gallon fuel tank! We made more restroom stops than gas stops and that’s never happened before.

Overall, the 2015 Ford Expedition EL 4X4 Platinum Edition is as superb as ever. Ford has been able to keep the exterior design fresh with minor changes throughout the 12 year run. There are many levels to choose from, the XLT, Limited, King Ranch, and Platinum. Ours was equipped with the optional 22 inch rims and large moonroof, which makes seeing the Chicago skyline very easy along with the Sears Tower.

With all of the large SUV’s I’ve road tested, the 2015 Ford Expedition EL is my top choice. The only difficult decision is to figure out what color I want to drive. My pick would be Tuxedo Black with the Bordeaux leather interior.

So there you have it, a real road test review with one of America’s largest SUV’s driving from the 4th largest city (Houston) to the 3rd largest city (Chicago). Yes, you can drive large and never fear the gas pump ever again. Thanks Ford!

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